LEWISTON, Maine -- The Bates men's lacrosse team capped a memorable home campaign with a fitting flourish, beating Colby 13-12 in the third overtime period on sophomore Jack Strain's sixth goal of the game Wednesday at Garcelon Field.
Strain scored on an assist by sophomore Nick Ford (Columbus, Ohio) with 2:23 remaining in the third overtime period, suddenly ending Bates' longest game since the 2006 season, before a crowd of about 900 on a warm and sunny day. Bates was 5-1 at Garcelon this season, 3-0 in games decided by one goal.
The Bobcats (7-6, 5-5 NESCAC) finish the regular season with their best overall and conference marks since 2006, when they were 9-5 overall and 5-4 in NESCAC play.
Bates finishes in a three-way tie for fifth place in the conference with Bowdoin and Hamilton. In head-to-head play among the three, Bowdoin is 2-0, Bates 1-1 and Hamilton 0-2; thus Bates earns the sixth seed will play at No. 3 seed Tufts on Saturday in the conference quarterfinals, signifying Bates' first postseason berth since 2006.
Colby finishes the season with a 6-9 overall record, 2-8 in NESCAC play.
The first overtime period saw Bates take three straight shots, two of them saved by Will, before Colby took four in a row, one of them saved by Kazarian. With 17.8 seconds to go, Bates was called for holding, giving Colby a 30-second power play that lapsed at in the second overtime, with Colby not attempting a shot in that span.
Kazarian stopped a shot by Deveau 43 seconds into the second OT. Bates cleared and would attempt the final five shots of the period, with Will saving two of them, including a buzzer-beating shot from close range by Hines.
Colby won the faceoff to start the third four-minute overtime period, and called timeout with 3:07 on the clock. Out of the timeout, John Grimaldi's shot rang off the right goalpost, to Bates junior goalie Charlie Kazarian's (Providence, R.I.) left, and Bates senior Dan Hines (Manchester, Mass.) corralled the ground ball. Hines cleared, drifted behind Colby's goal and passed to Ford on the other side of the field. Heavily guarded, Ford dished from the left baseline to Strain, located about 15 yards away from Colby's goal on the left wing. Strain's quick sidearm shot passed Colby goalie Tyler Will and into the net, bringing a big roar from the crowd of about 900 that had gathered for the game on a warm, sunny day. Strain's teammates raced on the sideline rushed at him in an exuberant celebration.
The Mules led 4-1 early in the second quarter and 5-2 with 4:58 left in the first half, before the Bobcats ended the half with a 3-0 run to tie the game at 5-5. With 2:41 left in the quarter, senior Kyle Starr (Concord, N.H.) found Strain with a diagonal pass from one side of the circle to the other. Strain dipped his crosse under a outstretched defender's and fired up into the upper left corner of the goal to bring Bates all the way back from three goals down.
Neither team led by more than a goal the rest of the way, in a very evenly played contest. Bates took 54 shots to Colby's 49, as both teams' goalies piled up the saves: Colby's Will finished with 21 saves, while Bates' Kazarian collected a career-high 19. Both goalies had 17 saves apiece at the end of regulation.
Both teams scored three goals apiece in the third quarter, for an 8-8 tie heading into the fourth. Gilkeson's second goal of the game, scored with 11:55 to go, on senior Kyle Starr's (Concord, N.H.) third assist of the contest, made it 9-8 in Bates' favor. Colby's Garth Franklin answered three minutes later with an unassisted tally, his lone goal of the game. Reed Lewallen scored his first goal since March 16 on a feed by Bates sophomore Jack Allen (Westfield, N.J.) with 6:38 to go, but Colby answered with back-to-back goals by John Jennings and Derek Youngman at the 5:31 and 4:34 marks to assume its first lead since 6-5 early in the third quarter. Jennings backed his defender closer and closer to the face of Bates' goal, then turned and shot around his hip, likely never seen by Kazarian. Youngman made it 11-10 Colby when he got a step on his defender behind Bates' goal and beat Kazarian one-on-one from an angle in the left flat.
Highland tied it back up for Bates with 2:17 to go, as he ran the perimeter of the circle before unleashing a shot from a tight angle on the left just before running out of shooting room. Bates junior Paul Donovan (Norwell, Mass.) won the ensuing faceoff, and with 1:37 to go junior Will Gilkeson (Cleveland Heights, Ohio) got his second goal of the game from 15 yards out on a left-handed offering.
With the clock approaching the 1:00 mark, Youngman found an open path to the front of the goal, but Kazarian stoned him from point-blank range to bring the biggest cheer of the game to that point from the crowd.
Colby's Max Eberhart outdueled Donovan for the next faceoff, and the Mules called timeout with 41.1 seconds on the clock. Out of the timeout, Greg McKillop drove toward Bates' goal before passing back out to the top of the circle to Ian Deveau, whose wicked bounce shot landed caromed just under the crossbar for another game-tying goal with 32 seconds left in regulation, sending the game into extra periods.
Strain's goals were the most by a Bates player since Nick Woods '10 netted six goals against Southern Maine in 2007.
Gilkeson finished with three goals, and Highland and Ford added one goal and an assist apiece. Donovan won 10 of 17 faceoffs and was credited with a team-high seven ground balls. Senior Andrew Berry (Westwood, Mass.) caused three Colby turnovers to spark Bates' defense in front of Kazarian.
Youngman led Colby's attack with four goals and an assist, while Deveau chimed in with three goals. Jennings had two goals and an assist, McKillop had three assists, and Chip Grossman tallied a goal and an assist. Peter Willauer scooped a game-high eight ground balls and added a goal for the Mules. Max Eberhart won 15 of 29 faceoffs.
NOTES: Strain's 27 goals this season are the most by a Bates player since Jack Sandler '02, now the head coach at Skidmore, netted 32 in 2002.... Strain, first-year Jack Allard (Ridgewood, N.J.) and Highland are Bates' first trio of 20-goal scorers since 2002 (Allard has 24, Highland 22).... The game was Bates' longest since a four-overtime contest against Tufts in 2006.... The win snapped Bates' three-game skid against the Mules, all regular-season finales.