WATERVILLE, Maine -- The Bates College men's soccer team fought to the bitter end, nearly pulling off a comeback in their season finale on Wednesday, a 3-2 loss at Colby.
The Mules (7-6-1 overall, 3-6-1 NESCAC) will be the eighth seed in the NESCAC Championship and will visit top-seeded Amherst for a quarterfinal game Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Bates finishes the season at 4-10 overall and 0-10 in conference play, with seven of their NESCAC losses suffered by a one-goal margin.
After a scoreless first half, the Mules appeared to take over the game with two goals in a span of 1:16. Eric Barthold, one of six Colby seniors playing their final home games, scored on a header off a cross from the left side by first-year Jon Stronach at 57:16. Colby junior Donny MacMaster then scored off an assist from Nate Tolman just 1:16 later.
Bates refused to give up and scored a pretty goal when first-year Tyler Schleich (Santa Barbara, Calif.) had a fine cross from the right side for a diving header by sophomore Ethan Kass (New York, N.Y.) for the Bobcats' first goal at 73:32. It was Kass's first collegiate goal, and the second assist this season for Schleich.
Tolman was taken down in the penalty area at 77:21 and the Mules were rewarded a penalty kick. Andrew Meisel ripped a shot up the middle after Bates senior goalkeeper Greg Watts (West Chester, Pa.) leaned to dive to his left.
Bates once again made it a one-goal game when junior John Murphy (Yarmouth, Maine) hit an unassisted shot from about 20 to 25 yards out that eluded Colby keeper Ben Joslin and went into the lower right corner of the net at 79:19. The goal gave Murphy 22 points on the season (nine goals, four assists), the highest total by a Bobcat since 2005.
The Bobcats put forth great effort to secure the equalizer, but the Mules were able to hold on. Bates hit the crossbar on a shot with about six minutes to play.
Joslin finished with four saves for the Mules, while Watts stopped six shots for Bates.