Kyle Weber, left, and Charlie Fay are the leading scorers on the Bates College lacrosse team.
LEWISTON — The Bates College men’s lacrosse team isn’t afraid to attack — the season’s statistics bear that out quite nicely.
Going into Wednesday’s road game against conference rival Bowdoin College, the Bobcats are undefeated at 8-0 (5-0 in the NESCAC), and sit fourth in the latest USILA Coaches poll. A big reason why? They are averaging 17 goals per game, fourth in the nation at the Division III level.
The Bobcats are also firing 52.5 shots per game on opposing goalies, and their 32.4 shooting percentage is second in the highly competitive conference.
“Most people don’t want to get in a run-or-gun shootout with us, because we have prolific scorers,” head coach Peter Lasagna said.
Seniors Charlie Fay of Falmouth and Kyle Weber lead the way with 28 and 27 goals, respectively. But don’t call the team a two-headed monster.
“Part of why we are so difficult to defend is everybody’s scouting report starts with Charlie Fay and Kyle Weber,” Lasagna said. “If you just concentrate on those guys, we really have a lot of great offensive players. I think they all help each other, plus we play a style that really encourages everybody on our team — defensemen, goalies, everybody — to be an offensive player. We are trying to attack when you aren’t ready to defend, thus that’s why we have scored so many goals.”
In addition to Fay and Weber, Matt Chlastawa and Andrew Melvin each have 16 goals as the Bobcats are just past the midway point of the season.
They like to score off forced turnovers.
“One of the biggest things is on our game goals every single week, it’s riding goals,” Weber said. “When the defense gets possession of the ball and they are trying to clear it into their offensive zone, when we cause a turnover and get the ball back. If we can score off of that, those are usually those unsettled transition situations. We like to get a riding goal per half of each game. We’ve been able to do that, and I think against Williams we had two in a single half. Those are really big momentum swings for us.”
The numbers are also impressive considering the weather in which many of the team’s early-season games have been played.
“A lot of people are going to approach us, the best game plan for them is to slow things down,” Lasagna said. “I am not worried about finishing good opportunities. We always will. But we have to be patient when somebody wants to slow the ball down on us. We faced it a couple times already and dealt with it pretty well. Again, we can score in bursts. We can have an OK day, which we did against Williams where we play OK in a driving snow, sleet and rain, and still score 17. That makes a coach pretty confident.”
Fay is glad he doesn’t have to shoulder the load game in and game out.
“It’s been definitely different,” he said. “We have a lot of different guys stepping into different roles. We’ve had a lot of guys who, last year, were more facilitators, like Andrew Melvin and Jake Walsh. Now, they are turning into legitimate goal scorers around us. Having those guys around and taking a little pressure off of me, and Kyle has stepped up with his play this year. He has been lighting it up, but having those guys step up, it takes a lot of pressure off me.”
Walsh has six goals and 14 assists this season.
Fay had 45 goals in 2016 as a junior, while Weber had 22 last season.
Both players learned leadership skills from last year’s senior group. It was that class that helped propel Bates to its first NCAA Tournament berth and into the Sweet 16, where they bowed out to NESCAC rival and eventual NCAA champion Tufts University.
“My sophomore and junior years we had great leaders,” Fay said. “They set the precedent; even when you are practicing, you have to put in the work off the field. Making sure you are homing in on your skills and coming every day to practice as ready as possible. That work off the field is just as important as any work we do as a team together.”
There’s no question about it: Weber and Fay make the Bobcats’ offense go. Part of the reason for that, Lasagna said, is that they are two of the hardest-working players he has ever been around, including the time he spent coaching at the Division I level at Brown, his alma mater.
Lasagna also said the chemistry they’ve developed isn’t surprising: They are two of the best offensive players in the country who have practically been joined at the hip since arriving on campus.
“Charlie and I, we’ve been playing midfield together a lot of our career with Jake (Walsh),” Weber said. “The three of us really harbored a lot of chemistry running that midfield. We’ve lived together and we are spending every waking moment at Bates together. Charlie and I have been playing a lot of summer lacrosse games together along the East Coast. We’ve spent this (past) summer working for a lacrosse company and spending more time together around the game, telling each other different ideas, just talking about the game and watching some really good lacrosse.”
It’s a partnership that has helped the Bobcats to new heights this season, with a string of big games on the horizon. After Wednesday’s trip to Brunswick to face Bowdoin, Bates hosts Middlebury on Saturday before traveling to defending national champ Tufts — which is also unbeaten — early next week.