Bates College Attacker Matt Chlastawa, left, fakes out Keene State’s Noah DeGoursey as he pivots around him to get a clear lane toward the net during Tuesday’s game in Lewiston. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

[UPDATE: Bates College lacrosse scores the top play on ESPN’s SportsCenter]

LEWISTON — Bates sophomore attack Matt Chlastawa may be putting up some eye-popping goal totals this season, but his assists can be quite astounding, too.

Chlastawa tallied seven goals and three assists and the Bobcats’ defense held Keene State to a season-low in goals in a 21-8 men’s lacrosse non-conference win Tuesday at Garcelon Field.

“A lot of things were working today,” Chlastawa said. “It starts with the defense. We were winning some faceoffs and they adjusted very well. We were just possessing on offense, getting some shots and sticking them. All in all, it was just a good day.”

The Bobcats improved to 4-3 with their third win in a row as they head into the heart of their NESCAC schedule with a home game against Williams on Saturday.

Chlastawa, who tied for fifth in goals in the NESCAC last year with 53, already has 26 this season, which ranks him among the top 20 in the nation. Four of those goals came in the second quarter Tuesday as he led a run of nine unanswered goals for the Bobcats after they fell behind 1-0 early.

“The offense as a whole is working really well. I just happen to be at the back end of some good ball movement and stuff like that,” said Chlastawa, who missed on only one shot he attempted. “It just speaks to our unit as a whole. Sometimes I’m at the back end of it and sometimes other people are.”

Fellow sophomore Brendan Mullally (three goals) was on the back end when he and Chalstawa teamed up on the play of the day.

Leading 12-2 and a man up, Bates worked the ball around the perimeter from one side to the other and back to Chlastawa about 25 feet to the right of the goal. Chlastawa flipped a behind-the-back pass to a cutting Mullally, who immediately went behind his back and over his left shoulder, past the second of three Owls’ goalies on the day and into the upper far corner of the net.

“It’s nice to mess around out there and have some fun with it,” Chlastawa said. “That’s why we’re out here, because we love the sport.”

Bates coach Peter Lasagna said the Bobcats fine-tuned the extra man attack in practice on Monday and the extra flair wasn’t an accident.

“We talked about getting into a certain person in a certain area, and if he couldn’t turn and throw it regular to throw it behind the back. So it’s good they’re taking me seriously,” Lasagna said. “We try to keep it really fun and creative and it’s neat to see those things work.”

Not much worked for the Owls (3-3) after Jon Nassif’s goal gave them their only lead 1:37 into the game. Sophomore midfielder netted the equalizer with 11:55 left in the first quarter.

Bates took the lead for good 49 seconds later when sophomore goalie Rob Strain (12 saves) made a save and a long outlet to senior defender Jack O’ Brien, who raced further upfield and found senior attack Clarke Jones (one goal, two assists) for a low, sweeping shot from 13 yards out.

Goals by Max Breschi and Jack Scribner (two goals and one assist each) inflated Bates’ lead to 4-1 at the end of the quarter.

Chlastawa’s onslaught began with his first goal 38 seconds into the second quarter. He scored two more over the next 3 1/2 minutes, then assisted Knapton on his second goal.

Jack Maritz scored on a rebound to make it 9-1 before Nassif finally answered with his and the Owls’ second goal with 3:47 to go in the half. But Chlastawa offset that tally 32 seconds later with his fourth goal of the period.

“It’s fun to watch him step up to this role. It’s a very different role,” Lasagna said. “He’s going to be a primary initiator this year, more than he was last year. He’s going to end up with the ball in his stick, a lot, during the play, not just at the end of the play. He’s always going to be a great distributor, but he’s starting to really come into his own as a dodger.

“People are also looking for him, and I think he trusts that if he gets rid of the ball he’s going to get it back in a good spot,” he added.

Bates outshot Keene State 21-7 in the second quarter, and 46-41 for the game. The Bobcats also won the ground balls, 44-37.

“Our defense is playing at a really high level right now,” Lasagna said. “We were patient defensively. When we had an opportunity to double them and get the ball down on the ground, I thought we did a really effective job with that.”

“The key to the defense was just communication. Everyone was on the same page,” Bates junior defender Rocco Fantoni said. “And obviously our offense controlling the ball for most of the game and just putting the ball in the back of the net whenever was great for our defense.”

In addition to Chlastawa and Mullally’s flash, junior Matt Kelleher’s two goals and freshman Devin Russell’s first collegiate goal highlighted the second half for Bates.

Bates College lacrosse coach Peter Lasagna argues a call with the referee during Tuesday afternoon’s game against Keene State College.(Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Bates College’s Matt Kelleher, right, drives to the net as Keene State’s Weston Coogan defends. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Bates College’s Matt Kelleher, right, fires a shot on net as Keene State’s Weston Coogan defends. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Bates’ Rocco Fantoni, left and Keene State’s Jon Nassif, right, get tangled up during Tuesday’s game. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Bates’ Eli Cooper, right, gains control of a faceoff and races up the field as Matthew Lemke gives chase during Tuesday’s lacrosse game in Lewiston. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Bates’ Matt Chlastawa watches one of his 7 goals head to the back of the net during Tuesday’s game in Lewiston. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)