Eight isn’t enough for the Bates College men’s lacrosse team.

Sure, starting 8-0 for the second straight season and being ranked 10th in the nation are enough to coax a smile from coach Peter Lasagna. But Lasagna also remembers what happened last year when a splendid start got the Bobcats’ heads spinning prior to final examinations.

“We were in kind of the same situation last year,” Lasagna said, “and then Connecticut College beat us in five overtimes.”

Bates was scheduled to play its ninth game of the season Wednesday on the artificial turf at rival Colby before its traditional 10-day break. The Bobcats take finals about a month earlier than most colleges and universities to make room for “short term,” a period of individualized study at the end of each school year.

Last spring, the marathon loss to Conn. College triggered a skid of five straight defeats to end the regular season. Bates rebounded to upset Bowdoin in the New England Small College Athletic Conference quarterfinals before falling at Middlebury.

Bates’ latest blast from the starting block includes gritty victories at Trinity (11-10) and Williams (8-6). Lasagna said he isn’t sure the last time Bates knocked off Williams on the road or beat the Ephs two years in a row, but they accomplished both last Saturday.

The top four scorers are underclassmen. Sophomore attacker Justin Simon leads the way with 18 goals and four assists for 22 points. Junior Matt Erisman (11-11-22) and sophomores Mike Medeiros (10-11-21) and Brent Morin (11-8-19) also have double-digit goals at the halfway point.

“The most wonderful thing in coaching is to see sophomore year arrive. The biggest jump college athletes make is from freshman to sophomore year,” said Lasagna.

Defense is home to most of the Bobcats’ experience, with junior Wes Couture roaming the midfield and Ryan O’Connor and A.J. Majeski joined by junior Rory Baldini on the back line. Paul Kazarian is a four-year starter in the cage. When exams are done, the team’s tests will continue outside the classroom. The second half of April includes trips to Bowdoin and Conn. College in addition to home dates with Tufts on the 22nd and Middlebury on the 29th.

“We’re in a position to do what we want to do,” Lasagna said, “(which is to) earn a home playoff game.”

Southern hospitality

Two Edward Little High School graduates gave the University of Southern Maine track and field teams cause for celebration during their recent spring trips.

Senior thrower Andy Sloat was one of five USM individual champions at the Furman Invitational in Greenville, S.C. Sloat’s winning distance in the discus was 132 feet, inch.

On the women’s side, sophomore Pam Yomoah placed 26th with a time of 59.56 seconds in the 400 meters at the Diet Pepsi Classic in Gainesville, Fla. Yomoah was one of a select number of NCAA Division III competitors sharing the track with athletes from Florida, Florida State, Tennessee, South Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, Georgetown and other Division I schools.

Southern Maine split its men’s squad last weekend, sending some to Furman and a slew of others to the Tufts Invitational in Medford, Mass. There, sophomore Aaron Whitten of Farmington (Mt. Blue) logged sixth place in triple jump and 10th in long jump.

Elsewhere, two of Maine’s top seniors had a banner weekend. Stephanie McCusker of Lisbon led a one-two-three triple jump sweep over New Hampshire in the University of Maine’s only home track meet of the season, while Keelin Godsey of Bates collected three victories at Tufts’ Snowflake Classic. Godsey dominated the hammer throw, discus and shot put and staked the Bobcats to fourth place out of 16 schools.

First class

Three local athletes were named to the NESCAC winter all-academic team.

Erin Wing of Greene (Leavitt) appeared in 23 games for the Connecticut College women’s hockey team as a senior on defense, doling out three assists. The Camels pushed nationally ranked Bowdoin to the brink before falling 2-1 in the opening round of the NESCAC tournament. Connecticut College’s six wins and three ties added up to 15 points, the highest total of Wing’s career with the program. Bates cross-country skier John Reuter of Bethel (Telstar) and Tufts indoor track and field standout Sarah Crispin of Auburn (Edward Little) also made the grade. NESCAC all-academic performers must achieve junior or senior status and see significant time with a varsity team while maintaining a 3.35 cumulative grade point average.

NESCAC bestowed the honor to 347 athletes during the winter season.

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