LEWISTON — It is the kind of start they hoped they could have and knew they could have if all went well. Thus, far things have been perfect for the Bates College men’s lacrosse team.
With a convincing 18-3 win over UNE, the Bobcats improved to 3-0 on the young season and like what they’ve seen so far.
“That’s as well as we can be doing after three games,” said Bates coach Peter Lasagna. “We hoped when we put this schedule together that if we played well and things went right, that we could be 3-0. We have a big win with a real good in-region team, Keene State, and now we’re ready for Middlebury at home for our first NESAC game.”
Bates got five goals from Nick Sampson and three from Gary Guinta. Rob Highland, Dave Barrett and Jason Hichborn all added a pair. Barrett also had two assists. The Bobcats have now scored 41 goals in three games, including the 11-10 overtime win over Keene State. The Bobcats host Middlebury on Saturday at 1 p.m.
“We’ve got 14 or 15 freshmen and 14 or 15 sophomores,” said Lasagna. “We don’t have a lot of juniors and seven or eight seniors. The youth is good. It enables us to play a lot of people and the quality of lacrosse, I thought, stayed very high no matter who was out there.”
UNE (1-2) got two goals from Tyler Thomas and a goal and two assists from Luke DiFiore.
“They’re a very good team, and they just outplayed us,” said UNE coach Jon Hunt. “We came out a little flat and didn’t keep our momentum going. They were able to run past us.”
Bates has also allowed just 18 goals in three games. The Bobcat defense did a nice job playing physical and jamming up the UNE offense. Defenders didn’t allow for easy shots, and when the Nor’easters got off a decent try Bates keeper Adam Scharff made the save. Bates outshot UNE 49-22.
“We looked to play defense together with our goal,” said Lasagna. “Because we played team defense, they were giving our goalie shots that he could see. I thought he played great. We cleared the ball as well as we’ve cleared it all year.”
UNE managed to stay close in the first quarter and tied the game 2-2 before goals by Mike Antoniou and Hichborn made it 4-2. Hichborn’s came with just 11 seconds left in the period.
In the second, Bates opened up the lead with four straight. Don Hines, Sampson, Barrett and Reed Brown opened up an 8-2 lead at the half. Brown’s goal came in transition moments after a Bates penalty expired.
“It really helps when you win every faceoff,” said Lasagna. “I think our faceoff man Cody Newman did a phenomenal job. We won a lot of them if not every one. That just kept giving us possession.
Newman won 15 of his 17 faceoffs while the team had a 19-6 edge overall.
“Then I thought we rolled the ball back really well,” Lasagna continued. “We got almost every ball in the middle of the field, and we were able to push it in transition. We moved the ball well and found the open guy and finished.”
In the third, Bates continued to roll and UNE couldn’t keep pace. The Bobcats outscored the Nor’easters 8-1 in the period and built a comfortable 16-3 lead.
“They took away the momentum, and we struggled to get it back,” said Hunt. “It’s a game of runs. They went on a run, and we couldn’t stop it.”
Sampson had three goals in the third while Guinta had a pair. Barrett added a goal and an assist. UNE got one from DiFiore but could only muster the lone tally in the entire second half.
“They did a pretty good job defensively,” said Hunt. “They were pressing us out a little bit, and we struggled under pressure. We haven’t seen pressure, and we haven’t see a team this good yet.”