LEWISTON, Maine -- For the third straight year, the Bates men's lacrosse team entered its annual game against Wesleyan University as the unranked underdog against the nationally ranked Cardinals, and emerged as the victor.
Bates scored the first four goals of Saturday's game at Garcelon Field and stayed ahead the rest of the way for a 7-5 win over the 17th-ranked Cardinals (3-1, 2-1), who suffered their first defeat of the season.
It is the third straight win for the Bobcats (3-2, 2-1 NESCAC), Bates' first three-game streak since starting the 2010 season 3-0.
Bates junior goalie Charlie Kazarian (Providence, R.I.), getting his first start since the season opener, played a major factor in the Bobcats' fortunes, making 12 saves for a .706 save percentage, ameliorating a 39-23 advantage in shots taken by Wesleyan. Bates also dominated faceoffs, winning the first nine of the game and ending up with an 11-5 edge for the game.
Sophomore Jack Strain (Montclair, N.J.) scored two goals for Bates, while senior Dan Hines (Manchester, Mass.) and sophomore Nick Ford (Columbus, Ohio) totaled one goal and two assists apiece to lead Bates' attack. Mac Jackson continued to torment Wesleyan in the faceoff circle, winning 10 of 14 draws and collecting a game-high eight ground balls. As a freshman last season Jackson won 12 of 15 faceoffs in Middletown.
David Murphy scored once and assisted on two other goals for Wesleyan, and Matt Prezioso added a goal and an assist. Mark Simmons made four saves in goal against a patient Bates attack.
Senior Kyle Starr (Concord, N.H.) put Bates on top in the third minute of the game, making a nice individual move to free up a 5-yard shot under Simmons' reach. Forty seconds later Bates made it 2-0, when Strain had a close-range shot blocked by a Wesleyan defender, but was able to collect the loose ball and shovel off to Ford. Ford drove to the baseline before passing back to Strain on the wing, and Strain ripped a 20-footer into the net.
Strain made it 3-0 on Hines' 11th assist of the season with 7:00 left in the first quarter, and with 5:14 left Hines added his fifth goal of the year for a 4-0 Bates lead.
Wesleyan finally rebounded with 2:58 left in the first, when Murphy picked up Christian Kennedy's miss and passed to Prezioso for the finish and a 4-1 score. Neither team would score again for the next 18 minutes. Wesleyan attempted eight shots in that span, two of them turned away by Kazarian, while Bates attempted seven shots, two saved by Simmons. With 1:14 to go in the half, Bates turned the ball over to Wesleyan, who called timeout with 53 seconds remaining. With 40 ticks to go, Murphy set up a score by Aidan Daniell, closing the gap to 4-2 at the half.
The third quarter was another single-goal affair, this time to Bates' benefit. Ford set up the score again, faking a run behind Wesleyan's goal, turning around and finding sophomore Reed Lewallen (Portland, Ore.), who juked a defender and finished against the isolated Simmons for a 5-2 Bates lead with 10:49 left in the third. Another scoring dry spell ensued over the next 12 minutes, before Ford's unassisted tally made it 6-2 with 14:06 left in regulation.
After falling behind 5-2 after three quarters, Wesleyan dominated possession in the fourth quarter, outshooting Bates 17-4 and winning 16 of 24 ground balls in the period, but the Cardinals were unable to get closer than a two-goal deficit. But that didn't mean the Cardinals went away. With 12:20 to go they closed the gap to 6-3, as Murphy finished off a transition goal on an assist by Prezioso, following a Bates turnover. As the clock went under the 8:00 mark, Wesleyan peppered the Bates goal with five shots in a row, with Nate Ryan finally cashing in with his first goal to close it to 6-4. With 4:11 left, Bates freshman Jack Allard (Ridgewood, N.J.) scored his team-high ninth goal on Hines' 12th assist, importantly raising Bates' edge to 7-4, because less than a minute later Wesleyan closed the gap again: Kevin Campbell won the next faceoff, leading to Quentin DellaFera's first goal of the season and a 7-5 score with 3:29 left.
A non-releasable one-minute penalty called against Bates with 1:04 left in the game immediately put its 7-5 lead into jeopardy. But Wesleyan unleashed two shots that sailed wide, the second of which Kazarian was the first to track out of bounds, giving Bates a critical possession. Kazarian soon found himself isolated with the ball in front of his goal, with a single Wesleyan attacker advancing on him. But the Bates goalie faked out the Cardinal before releasing the ball up the middle for Bates' final clear, enabling the Bobcats to run out the rest of the game clock.
Two years ago, Bates defeated 13th-ranked Cardinals 12-7 in Lewiston, and in last year's matchup in Middletown, the Bobcats upset the 20th-ranked Cardinals 6-5 in overtime.
Bates will next play its first game as the visiting team this season on Wednesday, playing at Bowdoin at 7pm. Wesleyan will host New York Maritime in a non-conference game at the same time.