LEWISTON — Saturday’s NESCAC men’s lacrosse semifinal game between Middlebury and Bates came down to faceoffs — win the faceoffs, gain possession, score and, hopefully, repeat.

Middlebury resoundingly won the faceoff battle, 23-8, and in doing so also won the battle where it mattered most — on the scoreboard.

The sixth-seeded Panthers defeated the top-ranked Bobcats 14-13 at Garcelon Field on Saturday afternoon and kept their NCAA Tourney hopes alive.

The loss was the Bobcats’ first of the season. They are now 14-1, while Middlebury improves to 9-8 on the year.

Jake Madnick didn’t find the score sheet for Middlebury, but his contributions were perhaps the most valuable of the afternoon. He won 20 faceoffs for the Panthers, who won 23 total in the game. For perspective, Bates won just eight in the game, and only two in the second half.

“We had great wing play all the way around,” Madnick said. “Our ground balls were awesome and (Charles) Midgley played really well in net. The faceoffs were definitely huge, but we had a lot of help around that contributed to that.”

Bates tried a couple different faceoff men of their own.

“We threw Jack O’Brien with a long stick out there, maybe he could cause a turnover if they won it, and he actually did the first time.” Bates College coach Peter Lasagna said. “But their kid is great, their kid was fantastic and he had a great game. That’s certainly a big part why they are advancing. They beat us when the ball was on the ground. Their goalie played great, they played great in every phase.”

The other faceoff men for Bates were Sam Francis and Eli Cooper.

Bates edged Milddlebury in overall ground balls, 49-44.

It’s the second straight year Middlebury has knocked Bates out in the NESCAC tournament. A year ago, the Panthers defeated Bates 11-10 in a quarterfinal.

“I don’t think last year had to do anything to do with this,” Middlebury coach Dave Campbell said. “We have have been getting better with a young team throughout. We played a lot better today then the last time we were up here.”

Bates had defeated Middlebury earlier this season, 15-12.

In the first quarter, the Panthers jumped out to a 4-1 lead. Henry Riehl, AJ Kucinski, Chase Goree and Parker Lawlor scored for Middlebury. Jake Walsh was the lone goal scorer for the Bobcats early in the fist quarter.

Bates started to chip away at the lead late in the first. Burke Smith picked up the second goal, followed by a Clarke Jones strike to make it 4-3. Frank Coslito restored a two-goal lead for Middlebury before Charlie Fay notched his first goal of the game to get Bates within one again.

Kucinski scored again to give Middlebury a 6-4 lead with 5:33 remaining in the first quarter before Kyle Weber cut the deficit 6-5 at the end of the first quarter.

The game turned defensive in the second quarter — just three total goals found the twine. Henry Riehl gave the Panthers a 7-5 lead. Fay answered, which gave the Bobcats some momentum, and they started to have some extended time in the offensive zone and took a timeout with 8:26 remaining in the opening half.

The shots started to come for the Bobcats, and for the next three-plus minutes, Bates fired 12 shots, forcing Middlebury goaltender Charles Midgley to make five solid saves. None of the remaining shots found the back of the net for the Bobcats.

“It’s really easy to play goalie for me when I have a great defense in front of me,” Midgley said. “We did a great job communicating and competing all day. I think we are such a close group that it’s real easy to play for each other and the group.”

He made 19 saves on the game, while his counterpart, Rob Strain of Bates, made 12.

Fay eventually tied the game at seven before the half.

Again in the second half the Bobcats had to play catchup. Kucinski and JP Miller gave Middlebury a 9-7 lead. Jones put Bates back within one before Miller scored again to give Middlebury a 10-8 lead. Bates evened the game up at 10 as Matt Chlastawa and Fay scored late in the third.

Middlebury entered the final quarter with an 11-10 lead after Lawlor scored his second goal of the game, and it extended the lead to two again early in the fourth as Wes Quinzani notched his first of the game.

Chlastawa kept the Bobcats in it, scoring three goals in the half. Middlebury always responded, though. Matthew O’Neal scored after Chlastawa’s first of the quarter and Miller responded after Chlastawa’s second of the quarter to give Middlebury a 14-12 lead.

With time winding down, Chlastawa put Bates within one with 79 seconds remaining. The Bobcats had a chance to tie it in the final 30 seconds after Bates defender Fred Ulbrick created a turnover and Bates gained possession and called a timeout with 27.6 seconds on the clock.

Coming out of the timeout, though, it was Middlebury that created a turnover, and Bates couldn’t put a scoring chance together in the final seconds.

“That’s every position a lacrosse player dreams of,” Midgley said. “Big game, one goal game, with two minutes left to play. That’s everything you could ask for as a lacrosse player.”

Bates’ season isn’t over yet. The Bobcats are almost certain to land for an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament when the field is announced on Sunday. The 34-team field begins play on Tuesday, with two play-in, first-round games to winnow the field to 32 for the second round, which begins Wednesday.

The NESCAC Championship, meanwhile, is Sunday at noon at Bates College. Middlebury will take on Wesleyan after the Cardinals defeated Tufts in the second semifinal game Saturday, 17-12.

“It’s going to be tough to watch two other teams play for the NESCAC Championship on our field,” Lasagna said. “Middlebury earned it, and we will find out Sunday who we are going to play (in the NCAA Tournament.)”

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Bates College’s Kyle Weber, left, takes a stick to the face from Middlebury College’s Quincy Nichols during their NESCAC men’s lacrosse semifinal at Garcelon Field on the campus of Bates College in Lewiston on Saturday.

Middlebury College players J.P. Miller, right, Charles Midgley, center, and Matthew O’Neal celebrate after defeating Bates College in their NESCAC men’s lacrosse semifinal at Garcelon Field on the campus of Bates College in Lewiston on Saturday.Middlebury College’s Charles Midgley (37) celebrates with his team after the Panthers defeated Bates College in their NESCAC men’s lacrosse semifinal at Garcelon Field on the campus of Bates College in Lewiston on Saturday.Middlebury College’s Jake Madnick, right, wins a faceoff against Bates College’s Eli Cooper during their NESCAC men’s lacrosse semifinal at Garcelon Field on the campus of Bates College in Lewiston on Saturday.Middlebury College’s Matthew O’Neal, left, takes a stick check from Bates College’s Jack O’Brien during their NESCAC men’s lacrosse semifinal at Garcelon Field on the campus of Bates College in Lewiston on Saturday.Bates College’s Sam Francis, right, and Middlebury College’s Cedric Rhodes battle for a ground ball during their NESCAC men’s lacrosse semifinal at Garcelon Field on the campus of Bates College in Lewiston on Saturday.Bates College’s Burke Smith, right, whacks Middlebury College’s Matthew O’Neal in the arm trying to dislodge the ball during their NESCAC men’s lacrosse semifinal at Garcelon Field on the campus of Bates College in Lewiston on Saturday.Bates College’s Dahnique Brown-Jones, right, defends against Middlebury College’s Parker Lawlor during their NESCAC men’s lacrosse semifinal at Garcelon Field on the campus of Bates College in Lewiston on Saturday.Middlebury College’s J.P. Miller, left, looks to make a move on Bates College’s Curtis Knapton during their NESCAC men’s lacrosse semifinal at Garcelon Field on the campus of Bates College in Lewiston on Saturday.Bates College goalie Rob Strain makes a stop on Middlebury College’s Chase Goree, left, during their NESCAC men’s lacrosse semifinal at Garcelon Field on the campus of Bates College in Lewiston on Saturday.Bates College senior Charlie Fay, right, runs past the check of Middle Bury College defender Eric Rogers during their NESCAC men’s lacrosse semifinal at Garcelon Field on the campus of Bates College in Lewiston on Saturday.Bates College’s Sam Francis, center, comes away with a rare faceoff win against Middlebury College’s Jake Madnick (6) during their NESCAC men’s lacrosse semifinal at Garcelon Field on the campus of Bates College in Lewiston on Saturday.Bates College’s Dahnique Brown-Jones (10) tries to muscle past Middlebury College defender John Jackson in front of keeper Charles Midgley during their NESCAC men’s lacrosse semifinal at Garcelon Field on the campus of Bates College in Lewiston on Saturday.Middlebury College’s Luke Peterson (3) swipes at the stick of Bates College’s William Holland during their NESCAC men’s lacrosse semifinal at Garcelon Field on the campus of Bates College in Lewiston on Saturday.Bates College’s Kyle Weber (3) runs away from Middlebury College’s Cedric Rhodes during their NESCAC men’s lacrosse semifinal at Garcelon Field on the campus of Bates College in Lewiston on Saturday.


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