LEWISTON, Maine -- After a false start -- Wednesday's scheduled season opener at Keene State was postponed due to weather -- the Bates men's lacrosse team is ready to go this Sunday.
Coming off a 4-9 season in 2012, the Bobcats will host Skidmore at Harvard University on Sunday at 2pm, in the second annual "Morgan's Game." The teams met in March 2012 at Tufts in the first Morgan's Game, which brought together two teams with strong ties to Morgan McDuffee. The Thoroughbreds' head coach is Jack Sandler ’02, McDuffee’s close friend, teammate and classmate at Bates.
Bates' fortunes this year may depend on maintaining the strong defensive base established over the past couple of seasons while striving to put the ball in the back of the net more often.
Senior co-captains Charlie Clark (Pepper Pike, Ohio) and Torben Noto (Portland, Ore.) lead a Bates defense that allowed only 8.12 goals per game in 2012, ranking fifth in the NESCAC, and will try to pick up where that defensive unit, led by now-graduated defenders Mark Murphy and All-American defender Kevin Helm, left off.
Sophomore Mac Jackson (Hood River, Ore.), named Second Team All-NESCAC as a faceoff specialist a year ago, should continue to give Bates an edge for the majority of the time in the all-important faceoff category, though the Bobcats will miss the faceoff-retrieving services of the graduated Reed Brown. Bates won 55.6 percent of its faceoffs in NESCAC games last season, fourth best in the league.
Bates graduated its top scorer from 2012, Jason Hichborn, but the Bobcats return eight of their top 10 scorers from last season. Senior attacker Kyle Starr (Concord, N.H.) emerged as Bates' primary setup man in 2012, racking up a team-high 13 assists. Senior Rob Highland (Yarmouth, Maine) scored 13 goals last season -- 12 of them over the final five games, including a career-high five in Bates' win over rival Bowdoin. Sophomore Jack Strain (Montclair, N.J.), senior Dan Hines (Manchester, Mass.) and junior Wylie Leabo (Belmont, Mass.) all return to Bates' attack, all with six or more goals scored a year ago.
After they try to avenge last season's 14-10 defeat to Skidmore, the Bobcats will play their home and conference opener against Middlebury on Saturday, March 9 at 1pm. Another NESCAC rival, Amherst, visits the following day at 2pm.