For the first time in 10 years, the Bobcats defeated NESCAC rival Williams in men’s lacrosse. The No. 6 team in the country had a rough start, but a better finish, and it meant a long-awaited win for Bates at Garcelon Field.

The two conference rivals have met every year since that last victory, but every time the Ephs came out on top. The last win for the Bobcats in the rivalry came at Williamstown, Mass., a decade ago. Bates’ last home win against Williams came the year before, in 2005.

That was the first win for the Bobcats in the series.

“I was not aware that it had been that long,” Bates coach Peter Lasagna said. “I was not doing a very good job in those 10 years.”

The Bobcats (7-1, 3-1 in NESCAC) have gotten off to a solid start to the season, but that wasn’t the case Saturday. The conference’s second-best offense, averaging more than 13 goals per game, was held without one in the first quarter. Bates put six shots on goal, but they were all stopped by Williams goalie Miles McCarthy.

“We were finding our looks, we just weren’t finishing it,” Bates junior Andrew Melvin said. “They had a great goalie. He was making saves all over the place.”

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The Ephs (3-3, 2-2) were similarly stymied on their attack, but Thomas Fowler broke the ice with 15.5 seconds left in the first quarter after Bates goalie Joe Faria stopped the first three shots he faced.

Michael Fahey made it 2-0 Williams just over a minute into the second, running in from the left sideline after a save by Faria went out of bounds.

Clarke Jones put the Bobcats on the board a minute later, then Melvin made it 2-2 two minutes after that. Melvin’s goal was in similar fashion to Fahey’s, with Melvin bringing the ball in from the endline behind McCarthy before beating the netminder from in front.

The scoring slowed down after that, then picked up in the final three minutes of the half. Fowler put the Ephs back on top, then Burke Smith tied it back up with just over a minute left. Kyle Weber gave the Bobcats their first lead with 22.9 seconds remaining in the first half, with Melvin feeding him for the go-ahead goal.

Weber started the second-half scoring, ripping a shot from the top of the attacking zone just over two minutes into the third quarter. That two-goal lead didn’t last long for the Bobcats, who allowed a pair from the Ephs to tie it back up.

Bates then answered Williams’ two goals with four of its own to end the quarter. Included in the quartet of scores were one each from senior snipers Charlie Fay and Jack Allard.

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“Like Coach always says, whenever they make a punch we got to respond with a bigger punch,” Melvin said. “They got two or three goals, so we just had to respond, and we came out with four. The ball was definitely working around.”

Williams got two quick goals to start the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 9-7, but Melvin answered with one of his own less than three minutes in.

Conor Roddy scored with six minutes left for the Ephs, but otherwise the Bobcats were able to play keep away.

“With seven-something left in the game, we had maybe the longest possession we’ve had all season long, and it was really impressive,” Lasagna said. “We need to clean it up a little bit. There at the end we turned it over a couple times. But I was really impressed with how hard we played and the composure that we played with.”

“We definitely dig down deep and we rely on our preseason conditioning,” Melvin, who at one point ran seemingly in circles behind the net, said of playing keep away, noting to mention conditioning coach Mike Seltzer. “We just say, ‘It’s Seltzer time.’ We were making sure we were running as hard as we can, not getting ourselves trapped in the corner, and making sure we got the ball spinning around as fast as we can.”

Long-pole defender Ken O’Friel put the finishing touches on the win with one final goal into an open net.

O’Friel and his fellow seniors became the first Bates class to beat every other NESCAC opponent in their careers.

“The seniors, this is their last to do it, so we kind of owed it to them for all their hard work,” said Melvin, a junior. “And it feels great to come out on top.”

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