LEWISTON — Bates College’s early, shining moments were quickly overshadowed by Middlebury College’s relentless defense and offense at Garcelon Field on a bone-chilling Saturday afternoon.

The Bobcats jumped out to a brief lead in the opening minutes of a NESCAC men’s lacrosse game, but the undefeated Panthers demonstrated their resiliency and rolled to a 14-4 victory.

After falling behind 2-0, the No. 11 nationally ranked Panthers (6-0, 4-0) opened up on the Bobcats (0-6, 0-4) with four goals in each of the first two periods and shut out Bates in the second quarter to take an 8-2 lead. Sophomore attack/midfielder Russell Thorndike spearheaded Middlebury’s second-quarter rebellion, scoring three of his game-high five goals in a row.

“That’s my career high (for goals scored in one game),” Thorndike said.

Despite the lopsided score, Thorndike was also impressed with the Bobcats.

“(The Bobcats) are a legit team,” Thorndike said. “They have got some good guys on (defense), but I think we showed up. Our defense is really strong. Nothing but respect for those guys. They came out and played. 


“I think we’ve got to do better on (offense), but defense, we were locked down. Those guys have held us (up) in every single game. We got to keep getting better on O, but overall happy with another win.”

Middlebury coach Dave Campbell said: “Russ is a great player and he is getting better and better. He is still not even close to his ceiling, but he is working hard. He loves the game — and I love having him — that’s for sure.”

Middlebury scored six more goals in the second half, while Bates mustered two tallies of its own.

The goals-for and goals-against were both season-low marks for the Bobcats.

It appeared that it could have been a more fruitful game for the Bates offense early on.

In the first few minutes of the game, the Bobcats popped in two swift goals. Senior midfielder Malcolm Kingbell scored on a Ben Miller assist 1:50 into the contest. A couple of minutes later, Bates freshman midfielder Connor Hartman scored with help from Wil Masterson to provide the ‘Cats with a 2-0 lead.


But Middlebury demonstrated why it remains undefeated when it responded with four goals to take a 4-2 lead in the opening quarter. Patrick Jamin, William Ryan, Will Zink and Bobby Hendry each supplied a goal for the Panthers. Tom Conley and Thorndike each earned an assist in Middlebury’s four-goal foray.

“We always play hard and our guys competed well even after going down 2-0 early,” Campbell said. “We’ve been there in almost every game. Our guys just play hard and keep believing. We do a great job riding. That gave us the ball a lot today, so I thought we did a good job in all those areas.

“I think (the Bobcats) are getting better. I’ve been impressed with what I have seen on film. I think (Bates coach) Dan (Annino) is doing a great job with them. They probably play the toughest schedule in the country. They play with a lot of heart.”

Before Thorndike punched in three straight goals in the second quarter, Conley took advantage of a Jamin assist and scored, triggering another Middlebury four-goal run.

The Panthers picked up two more goals in the third quarter from Jake Paluso and Jack Sheehan, with assists going to Ryan and Billy Curtis to give Middlebury a 10-3 lead. Bates’ third goal came on an eye-opening, 60-yard shot from freshman Jacob Kodjababian, whose unassisted marker landed in a vacant Middlebury net.

“We played a well-coached team,” Annino, the Bobcats’ first-year coach, said. “We played a team that is excellent in the middle third. We weren’t able to match the intensity that they brought in the middle third of the field, so they executed on who they are, and I don’t think we executed on who we are quite as well.”

Annino said that Bates’ goaltending remains a “bright spot” for the team. Senior Garrett FitzSimmons, who made several amazing stops, collected 15 saves in net for the Bobcats.

Thorndike was not through with Bates in the fourth quarter. He finished his five-goal performance with back-to-back goals in the final period. Conley picked up his second goal and Tyler Forbes topped the Panthers’ 14-4 win with his goal. 

Bates’ fourth goal came in the fourth quarter and was delivered by Hartman, his second of the game.

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