Bates Bobcast Episode 151: Momentum builds for No. 14 field hockey and men's soccer

The Bates field hockey and men's soccer teams are off to outstanding starts, with both teams slated to square off against Tufts this weekend. Plus, we catch up with head coach Paul Gastonguay '89 to talk all things Bates tennis. All that, and more, on the Bates Bobcast!

Interviews this episode:

  • 0:49 -- Jacob Iwowo '23, Men's Soccer (Male Bobcat of the Week).
  • 11:39 -- Emily Gianunzio '21, Field Hockey (Female Bobcat of the Week).
  • 21:14 -- Sarah DiPillo '20, Women's Soccer.
  • 25:43 -- Malik Hall, Head Coach, Football.
  • 38:38 -- Paul Gastonguay '89, Head Coach, Women's and Men's Tennis.

Bobcast Transcript

Aaron: This is the Bates Bobcast! Our weekly podcast where we take a look at the week that was, in Bates athletics. My name is Aaron Morse and this week we’re celebrating the continued success of the No. 14 nationally ranked Bates field hockey team. Plus, men’s soccer earned a draw with Bowdoin in an absolute thriller at Garcelon Field and the fall tennis season is underway for the women and men. All that and more, coming up, on the Bates Bobcast! 

Aaron: The Bates men’s soccer team took on Bowdoin under the lights at Garcelon Field on Wednesday. After falling behind 1-0 early, the Bobcats out-played the Polar Bears the rest of the match, but couldn’t seem to get a shot to go into the net. That is until first-year Jacob Iwowo brought the huge crowd to its feet with time winding down. 

Broadcaster: Kovacs hits it forward again, skimmed header, it's trapped and a goal! In the 89th minute the Bates Bobcats have rescued at least a point perhaps! Bates one, Bowdoin one! As the stands are shaking at Garcelon! Jacob Iwowo is the goal scorer!

Jacob: You know one of my teammates did the hard work, and the ball just fell to me, and I just did the rest. But the credit goes to my teammates and my team for putting me in the position to score the goal. And I think a big part for us was having the school behind us and the school being there to cheer us on. The noise, to push us the extra mile and have our leg up in the second half against Bowdoin. I just want to give a quick shout out to everyone that turned up and that supported us for the game.

Aaron: Bates and Bowdoin finished the match tied at one. The Bates men sport a record of 4-1-1 on the season after a 3-0 win over Thomas College on Sunday, and Jacob Iwowo is our Male Bobcat of the Week! 

Aaron: Let's get into your background a little bit. You grew up in London. You decided to come to prep school in the states. And then obviously up to Bates, so when you start playing soccer, you're also a basketball player, so, when did that whole process develop and when you realized you wanted to come to America for high school and then college?

Jacob: Well I decided that I wanted to come to the US at a pretty early age. I'd say I was around 14 years old when I decided to get on the computer and start emailing prep school after prep school trying to find a place to go. And then probably right before I turned 15 I was fortunate enough to meet somebody who was able to put me in contact with some coaches in the northeast area. I was mainly talking to Loomis Chaffee School and Brooks School and it kind of came down to the Brooks School and I went there right before I turned 16, or right after I turned 16 actually.

Aaron: Nice, and then how did you get started playing basketball in Europe, because I know obviously soccer is very popular, but basketball maybe not as much?

Jacob: Yeah, it's a funny story actually. We were playing basketball in an after school club. It was just something that I did while my parents would be at work and it was just something fun to do after school with my friends. And I remember one day very vividly when I dribbled the ball between my legs, and I kind of thought there was a revelation, like I thought I was the next NBA prospect and I immediately went home and started looking for basketball clubs to play for in the local area, because I thought I'd change the game or something.

Jacob: So, that's kind of how I started playing. I joined the local team and then from there I was able to work my way up to the ranks in the English basketball system, but it all started in that after school club dribbling the ball between my legs.

Aaron: Excellent. And so when you first came to America, coming from England, were there any significant adjustments for you, or was it pretty smooth?

Jacob: For me the culture shock wasn't actually too bad. It's not too bad moving to another English speaking country. I was lucky to be at a small school of maybe 360 kids, so I was able to kind of find my place very quickly, and I was welcomed amazingly. People were very nice, very kind. It was kind of almost weird how welcoming and happy and smiley people were, I thought it was a big joke or something.

Jacob: So, in terms of adjusting it wasn't too much of a problem especially when I first came here. And I wanted to come here ever since I was so young, that I was probably just riding a high for a pretty long time.

Aaron: Nice. And what made Bates the place you wanted to go to college?

Jacob: For me it was just the feel that I got coming on campus, and from what I'd heard from a lot of other people that had been here. My coach at Berkshire, Derek Murphy, he was a Bates graduate, played on the basketball team here. And he spoke really highly of the place and he brought me down here for my visit. And when I came down here, everything that he was saying about the school seemed to match up, so, that was a big part for me.

Jacob: Another big part for me was the amount of interest that the coaches showed in me right from the beginning. Bates has been a school that have been recruiting me for quite a long time. And kind of that genuine interest in me and the kind of upfront honest opinions that they were giving me throughout the recruitment process was a big reason why I decided to come here.

Jacob: There's a good thing going on here, so the growth of the program in the next couple years is going to be something remarkable that I want to be a part of.

Aaron: For soccer were you first talking to Stew and then Tyler once he took over or has it been Tyler the whole time?

Jacob: I actually, Coach Flaherty was trying to recruit me during his time here, but at that point I wasn't actually open to playing soccer in college. I was actually only going to be playing basketball. But, I actually kind of opened up to the idea of playing soccer right around the same time that Coach Tyler picked up the job. And a big thing for me was that Coach Tyler got the job on a Monday and he called me and said that he wanted me on the Wednesday.

Jacob: So I was like, "This guy is really serious and really wants me." The former assistant coach, Josh, he had been talking to me for awhile, so he was a big part of the recruitment process. I have had conversations with Coach Flaherty, but in terms of in regards to Bates, I've mainly been talking to Coach Tyler.

Aaron: So, being a first-year, what adjustments have you had to make, college soccer compared to playing in high school?

Jacob: Everyone's a lot bigger for sure. I'm used to being the big kid that can impose my physical presence upon people, but at the college level there's a lot of kids that are a lot bigger than me. So trying to adjust to that has been fun. It's nice to have that challenge of playing with bigger, better players. I thought that in high school I was prepared well, playing at a high level in the NEPSAC, but NESCAC play is very physical and it's fun trying to get used to that.

Aaron: Where would you rank this past week's Bowdoin match among exciting matches you've been a part of in your career?

Jacob: I mean it was definitely up there. I've been fortunate enough to be involved in a lot of very, very intense games. Especially in my high school career. For now, nothing has topped my Brooks Class B championship game. But, that Bowdoin game was something and it was definitely up there.

Aaron: We touched on it right after the game, but how about that crowd support? I mean that one was one of ... did you imagine coming to college and having that crowd behind you like that?

Jacob: Yeah, honestly, I was very surprised. I didn't actually know what to expect especially it being the first night game, and the fact that so many turned up and came to the game is amazing. I know how academically challenging this place is, and how much everybody has to do, but just the fact that people could take time out of their day to come and support us, it meant a lot to me, it meant a lot to the team, it was great.

Aaron: Speaking of academics, how is that transition going obviously to college here?

Jacob: It's definitely challenging. But, at the end of the day, it's just about getting your head and doing work the best that you can do. The main thing for me is just getting used to reading so much. It wasn't that much reading at our high school for sure, but a big thing, and a big reason why I kind of like Bates is we have the small community, and I have had a lot of people that have been able to help me out and older students that showed me how to do certain things and how to be more effective in doing my work. Maybe the first two weeks or so, I was having a little bit of trouble, but after a couple conversations with some upperclassmen, I'm well on my way and kind of feel like I'm getting my feet settled in especially academically.

Aaron: For sure. Have you spoken to other two-sport athletes here about what it takes to succeed playing multiple sports because you're going to be playing basketball also?

Jacob: Yeah, I mean I'm lucky that two other kids that went to Brooks with me are also playing two sports here. One girl is on the field hockey team and the lacrosse team, and another is on the football team and on the baseball team. So we went to the same school, one of them I graduated with, so I'm always checking in and speaking to them. If I ever have anything that comes up about feeling overwhelmed or trying to keep up with everything that's going on, they would be there to help me out for sure.

Aaron: Certainly. So from the team perspective, I mean this a pretty big weekend coming up. I believe Tufts is coming to Russell Street Field and they're I believe defending national champions, so what's been Coach Tyler's emphasis to the team right now?

Jacob: So far I mean it's kind of been focused on the next game up. So Wednesday we have Husson. So it's kind of about taking care of business but I'd be lying if we didn't bring up that fact that we were hosting the national champions on Saturday, and at least the kind of team feel is that we can play with anyone. Especially the way the program has been the past couple years, maybe that hasn't been the case. But with everything that's going on right now with our new class, with the development of some of the sophomores and the juniors and the senior class that we have, we're a team that on our day can play with anybody, and it's about taking care of our bodies and doing the right things in preparation for Tufts to make sure that we can put our best foot forward when that day comes around.

Aaron: Massive first-year class. I think there's 17 first-years on the team, what's it like being one of 17 newcomers?

Jacob: It's definitely fun. It's a great group of guys. They're super cool. It was very easy to get acquainted with them. There's nobody in our class that you'd say is kind of different to anyone else. Everyone's getting along on the same page and ready to work. It's definitely shaken things up in terms of there's a whole bunch of kids who are fighting for different positions, but at the end of the day Coach Tyler always talks about the bottom half of our team being able to push up the top half of our team. And that's really important. I think first-years are really pushing everybody to be better and to push the program forward in a positive direction.

Aaron: All right. Jacob Iwowo, Male Bobcat of the Week. Thanks so much.

Jacob: Thank you. Appreciate it.


Aaron: The field hockey team is off to its best start since 1995 at 4-1 and the Bobcats are ranked 14th in the country after a 4-0 win over Thomas College on Thursday. Junior Emily Gianunzio scored a pair of goals in the victory, giving her team-leading three on the season. And Emily Gianunzio is our Female Bobcat of the Week!

Aaron: First of all just take us through the goals you scored. I know the last one was like a tip-in off a Burns shot there right? And then you had another one earlier.

Emily: Yes. So Riley had a great deceptive sweep across the middle of circle, which is where I happen to stand on corners and I just got lucky and got my stick on it, but she had an amazing sweep there.

Emily: And the first goal was just a scrum in front of the net and happened to get my stick on that one and put it past their goalie.

Aaron: Seems like a number of goals in field hockey as well as in ice hockey, you're trying to get towards that net and redirect shots, right? Is that part of the-

Emily: Yeah, that's kind of my main job on corners, is just stand on the goalie's pads and try and get a deflection either which way just to throw them off. It's mainly the hitters up front that do the job and then I just happen to tip it in after.

Aaron: Gotcha. And then, this weekend was a bye weekend for the field hockey team, so no games, but the team had kind of a bonding trip up north a little bit? Tell us about this trip.

Emily: So we did a ropes course up in the Forks, Maine, which was really cool. We did a low ropes team bonding type thing, and a high ropes course. And then we stayed the night in some yurts at the Northern Outdoors which was pretty cool. Great team bonding there, it was fun.

Aaron: During the season it's a lot of obviously practicing and then getting prepared for each opponent, so how refreshing was it to have a weekend where maybe you didn't necessarily have to think about field hockey that closely?

Emily: Right. It was kind of nice especially because we've been extremely focused as a team in practices, like our big motto is everyday we're trying to improve a little bit better, and even with a bye weekend like not touching our sticks really, but even being together and bonding that weekend, I still think we improved our team culture each day which was great.

Aaron: Certainly. Well you're from Connecticut, how did you first decide you wanted to come to Bates for college?

Emily: I actually wasn't looking at Bates and another girl in my town who was looking to play field hockey there mentioned the summer camp, and then I signed up for it and as soon as I stepped on campus I was like, "I actually love this school." So that's how I started liking the program. Then I talked to Dani about playing field hockey here and we both agreed it'd be a good fit.

Aaron: So it all started with the summer camp. What about the summer camp or about the experience sort of made you realize, "Oh I love this place"?

Emily: It was kind of the team that I had met that year, so I don't know how many years ago that was, but the team chemistry of who was working at the camp and then also I had lived in Connecticut my whole life, but I'd never been to Maine, and it was just a really pretty atmosphere, the campus was great, everyone was welcoming. You know the cliché type stuff, but I can't say it's not true.

Aaron: Right. And then the team obviously a great start to the season, four and one on the year, you have a midweek game Tuesday, we're talking on a Monday this week, and then you have some big NESCAC contests right? The likes of Tufts coming up and I know, I think two years ago you beat Tufts during the regular season.

Emily: Yeah, two years ago we got a win off of Tufts, 1-0. I vividly remember that tip-in from Emma Patterson, that was an amazing game to play in and we actually won our scrimmage that year against them and then ended up beating them in the regular season and we happened to beat them in our scrimmage this year before the season started. So hopefully we're going to keep that trend going this weekend.

Aaron: Yeah, so perhaps history will repeat itself.

Emily: Hopefully. That's the goal.

Aaron: What about the team, you've touched on the chemistry aspect, but else about this team this year has allowed you to get off to such a great start, 4-1, that overtime win over Hamilton obviously setting the tone.

Emily: I think that the team dynamic coming into this year has just been completely like a new world, like new vibe. Everyone's so positive and no one's judgemental, everyone just jives together, everyone's just playing their game and feels comfortable being themselves. It's a really great atmosphere.

Emily: Like I said earlier, our first-years have integrated themselves into the team so well and I think everyone else has kind of come together in a way that just makes it easy on and off the field to be close and a good team.

Aaron: And it's a really balanced offense. Anyone can score anytime.

Emily: Dani actually pointed this out to me the other week that last year none of the forwards had played together at all, so you only have Thom and Riley who really played together, and they work really well together also. But I think it's also because we've never played together that we're able to just right off the bat, we're starting to get used to each other's ways we play, and then we're all starting to create this new dynamic instead of reacting to an already made dynamic if that makes sense. So instead of just becoming a part of an already set thing, we're making our own thing which is working out well.

Aaron: Awesome. You touched on the fact that everyone's doing their role. It seems like on defense the two goal keepers are perfectly happy playing one half each and it seems to be working?

Emily: They're amazing. Practice they are willing to challenge us in every which way. They're doing great. Our freshman goalie is outstanding. Our sophomore goalie's also outstanding. I can't ask for more from both of them.

Aaron: And then tell us about Grace Fitzgerald, one of the captains, because she kind of makes the offense go a little bit doesn't she?

Emily: She is an extremely important backbone to this team. In our Conn. game we started off a little rough and we ended up we were losing 1-0 going into one of our quarters, it might have been the half, and she was just like, "We need to get it going guys." And we started playing better and putting our sticks together and we ended up scoring four goals in one half of a game which is really good.

Emily: The way she acts and plays makes everyone else around her want to act and play with the same intensity and skill level that she does. And she's definitely an important part of this team and extreme leader.

Aaron: You touched on the quarters, because that's new this year in terms of field hockey and the way it's timed and whatnot, have you noticed any significant differences with that?

Emily: Not really. It's just like the only difference is that they pause the time so you can't really use it as a possession type thing. So if you get the corner, you can't hold the ball and let the time run out a little bit if you're winning, which is nice if you're on the losing side of things. But not as nice if you're on the winning side of things.

Emily: I think we've been doing really well recently with capitalizing our corners, it's going to be a thing we have to work on all year, but I think we're slowly working our way to it.

Aaron: Well what are you studying here on the academic side here at Bates?

Emily: I am a psychology major here at Bates.

Aaron: What are some classes that have really stood out to you so far?

Emily: Last year I took cognitive psych and I was a really big fan of that with Todd Kahan. It actually made me really want to be a psych major. Freshman year I took a short term class called Cartoon Cartoon which was a good one, you know the short term classes.

Aaron: Those always are favorites it seems like.

Emily: Yeah, those are definitely favorites for people.

Emily: Last year I also took a short term class called Sport and Body in Modern China which was a fun class. Just being about sports was interesting to me.

Aaron: Right. Certainly. Growing up did you play other sports besides field hockey or when did you start playing field hockey?

Emily: I played ice hockey since I was eight years old and then I started playing field hockey after that, but I don't really remember when. Ice hockey was normally a bigger sport to me growing up than field hockey was, and I think it wasn't til high school where I started focusing more on field hockey than ice hockey.

Aaron: Do you play for the club team here or anything?

Emily: I do play for the club team.

Aaron: What's that experience like playing club ice hockey at Bates?

Emily: It's really fun. I wasn't as present as in the past two years as I'd like to have been. They graduated their two goalies that have been here the past two years, so hopefully the goal is that I'll play more often this year.

Aaron: You're a goalkeeper then?

Emily: Yeah, I'm a goalkeeper in ice hockey.

Aaron: What's it like being a goalkeeper in ice hockey but a forward in field hockey?

Emily: I think it's really helpful in field hockey actually, because it's a completely different position, but the idea's the same. I kind of know how goalies are going to react to certain things versus ... like what will make goalies move versus not make them move and stuff like that. So I think it's helped me a lot in the shooting aspect of field hockey.

Emily: But other than that, I just love playing goalie in ice hockey. I don't know what it was really.

Aaron: Great. Any other thoughts on the season so far for the Bobcats that you wanted to share?

Emily: I think that we're on the up and up and everyone should show up to our big Tufts game on Saturday.

Aaron: Certainly. Female Bobcat of the Week, Emily Gianunzio. Thanks so much.

Emily: Thank you.


Aaron: The volleyball team defeated the University of Southern Maine 3-1 on Tuesday before dropping a pair of very close NESCAC matches over the weekend. The Bobcats rallied from two sets down before falling 3-2 to Amherst on Friday and Bates had a 2-1 lead over Middlebury on Saturday before the Panthers rallied to edge the Bobcats 3-2. Despite the pair of losses, the volleyball team is 8-2 and off to its best start to a season since 2009. 

Aaron: In women’s soccer, the Bobcats fell 2-0 to Babson on Saturday before bouncing back to earn a 2-2 draw against the University of Southern Maine on Sunday. Senior Sarah DiPillo scored a pair of goals against the Huskies.

Sarah: The first goal was a really great service in by a fellow senior, Adena Bernot, and she just placed it really well. We followed through with the play that we set up, and I was able to get a touch on it and we got it in. It was nice.

Aaron: And then the follow up must have been nice, like, "Oh, the ball's right there," on the second goal you had, the ball was just right there for you.

Sarah: Yeah. We always talk about following up with shots, just a really important thing. Sometimes we forget about it, but to follow up really makes a difference and it did at that point. So it was neat to score again.

Aaron: For sure. So you're a senior now, and you have a new head coach this year in Joe Vari, what's that adjustment been like?

Sarah: It's been awesome. Also a new assistant coach. We've been really happy to have both of them. As a senior class we're just really happy to get our last season in and lay down the new foundation for the upcoming seasons.

Aaron: What things has Joe done with the program so far in terms of changes perhaps?

Sarah: We've made a lot of changes. All of them have been really positive. Mindset wise he's really incorporated a growth mindset and that's really viewing challenges not as back ups, but more opportunities for learning and growing. So, that's something that we want to go forward with the program and make sure the younger girls understand that we have to be competitive and not be complacent in order to compete in the NESCAC.

Aaron: Certainly. And speaking of foundations, how about that new grass you're playing on this year at Russell Street Field? What's that been like?

Sarah: Yeah, it's been amazing. We've been all so excited over the summer. We were so eager to get in and use it. We were very grateful and thankful about the donations that have been made. It's been awesome so far.

Aaron: Tell me a little bit about your background? How did you first decide you wanted to come to Bates for college?

Sarah: I was looking into Bates because obviously the academics and also athletics. So I was originally going to play soccer and basketball, but I just chose to stay with soccer. And also a big factor would be the community and the environment here. When I stepped on campus, everyone was just so friendly and I heard about that before I came, but when I actually experienced it first hand, it was like, "Wow, this is actually true. Everyone's so welcoming and friendly." So that's a big factor.

Aaron: Certainly. And then how have you seen yourself grow as a soccer player through your three plus years now?

Sarah: It's been awhile. I would just say putting the work in every day in practice and becoming a leader with the senior class. We started with eight and now we have five. But I'm really proud of all of us for putting in the work and changing the culture from our first year.

Aaron: When did you start playing soccer growing up? I mean I know a lot of kids in America at least, start playing pretty young, rec, when did you kind of get serious playing a little bit.

Sarah: I started from a very young age. I always did rec at the YMCA up into town and then I got into travel and then I was also into basketball, so I did switch back and forth with club and AAU and all throughout middle school and high school, and I'm really fortunate continue it up into the college level.

Aaron: Certainly. And what are you majoring in here at Bates?

Sarah: Psychology.

Aaron: Okay, so another psychology major. Emily Gianunzio also, we had her on this week. She's a psychology major. What about that degree appealed to you?

Sarah: Just that it's so broad. It always interested me in high school and what you can go on to, even grad school, you can study, or there's so many different fields you can work in, so it just really appealed to me.

Aaron: And are you thinking about grad school? What are your thoughts right now?

Sarah: Possibly. If I were to continue my education I would work for two years and then I'd go back, but my options are definitely open.

Aaron: Well any other thoughts on the season so far? Where you're looking for the team to continue to improve throughout the year?

Sarah: Yeah, so we are not giving up. The record isn't the best, but we're putting all the work in and we have a couple NESCAC games coming up, so Tufts and Middlebury and Trinity are coming up, so we're just hoping to get some points in a league game.

Aaron: Well I know a few years ago you got a draw with Williams and they were top ranked in the country, so it's soccer, anything can happen.

Sarah: Yeah, that's right. Anything can happen. We just have to believe in ourselves and put the full 90 together and I think we can get some points and be successful.

Aaron: All right. Sarah DiPillo, thanks so much.

Sarah: Yeah, no problem. Thank you.


Aaron: Saturday was a rough home opener for the Bates football team. The Bobcats fell to the Middlebury Panthers by a score of 28-0. Bates did not turn the ball over and the Bobcats forced four turnovers themselves. But penalties came back to haunt the team again and again. Head Coach Malik Hall breaks down the game.

Aaron: Fifth quarter with the head coach of the Bobcats, Malik Hall, here on the Bobcast. Coach Hall, got to ask about the penalties. Obviously a lot of personal fouls. It seemed like the team was obviously being aggressive, maybe a little bit too aggressive on defense. What were your thoughts on all the penalties you guys racked up?

Malik: I think there's a fine line from aggression and discipline. And unfortunately when you cross that line, you see a lot of dirty laundry, and that was a result of the flags. I think we had 13 penalties for almost 150 some yards. That was more than what we had offensively in the first half.

Malik: And so, it's hard to win games with that many penalties. But again, more than anything, I think it spoke volumes to where we are in terms of our discipline in terms of being in a competitive and heated environment but not losing your poise with it. And certainly we lost our poise. Defensively we had way more than enough personal fouls to go around. And then when you add the offensive fouls in terms of holding, I think we had at least four of those and a personal foul on offense. I think that is a recipe for a sloppy and a very, very dirty game. That's what it was for the Bobcats this weekend.

Aaron: And then Costa got hurt and so you brought in a first-year Liam Foley, threw him right into the fire, I bet he probably wasn't expecting to play. What were your thoughts on him?

Malik: You know Foles man, the Eagles had a Foles, think we'll take all of what the Eagles have with our Foles and that's how I'm speaking to him. Like, "Listen man, we recruited you because you could throw the ball, so go do what we recruited you to do, which is go throw it." For him to not have a ton of reps going into that game because we thought we would have Jackie, not a bad first showing for a kid who just was trying to get the signals down.

Malik: And more than anything, I guess if you look at Foles from a personality standpoint. Cool customer. The moment wasn't too big, he is the quintessential quarterback who's steady she goes, whatever happens good, bad or indifferent, he'll be at that same tempo and same level. So, we're excited to see what he can do with a full week of preparation. I find at times sometimes that puts more pressure on a quarterback.

Malik: When you get quarterbacks who come in when they weren't expected to come in, they almost just respond instinctually. I think when given some quarterback's preparation, they have time to overthink a concept or overthink what they feel, and that's what makes the quarterback position so important to a football team. Because they have to manage time of possession, they have to keep the ball out of the defensive hands and they also have to play well.

Malik: So just managing time of possession and not turning the ball over, though in the NFL, they're like, "He's a manager." Well that's not easy. And for a first-year, just to get one of the two and now we're going to say he has to at least get three of the five. And so, the five being not turning the ball over, managing time of possession, making some plays, taking some good reads and knowing when to get us in and out of a play. That's a lot for a first-year. But, I think he has a spread history which supports that he can handle it.

Aaron: Excellent and obviously we won't know about Costa's status until later in the week, but the opening drive from Middlebury, when they had that fumble that bounced forward like 15 yards and they recovered it for a first down, I mean, it was like, that was not a good start in terms of how that game was going to go it seems like.

Malik: Yeah, I think if you look at the start of our games, we have not gotten to a great start and we have not played a great second half. So in short we play a tale of two quarters. Whether that's half of a first quarter or half of a third and a full second. We come out the opening kick return and put the ball on the ground. So our offense starts at the 11. Now they did a great job getting us out of that black zone and we got a good punt, and then when they go on their side of the ball, we give up a third and 15. We give up a first, so first down they get seven yards, C Hunt comes and punches the ball out. The ball skips and spits for another 10 and there's no one around the ball but Bobcats, and then all of a sudden a Middlebury Panther comes up with it.

Malik: And so, that's when you've got to say, "Come on guys, settle in there." We're playing through our shoes and then I know that sounds like a weird concept, but to stop, we're coming out of our shoes. And so, to stop for a minute to pick the ball up, we're running so hard and going so hard, we're going through our shoes to we're stopping is like an emergency brake.

Malik: That's when you've got to say, "Guys, settle in there. That ball should have been recovered."

Malik: Then, same point though, they punt the ball again coming out of the first quarter and they muff the punt and only Bobcats are on the ball and the Middlebury guy comes up with it.

Malik: I think we were, I don't know where we were in our focus and in our execution, but those were small details of the game that just changes the perspective in the game plan for Middlebury and they still turned it over four times. And so in that space, they turn it over four times, and we're in the red zone two of the four turnovers, and we still got no points.

Malik: Again, that's the fluidity of our offense, special teams and defense. It's like everyone is still playing one individual set opposed to four sets as a three prong unit. We need to be Voltron this week, you know what I mean? We need to come together. From the head to the feet.

Aaron: You touched on the red zone. That can be tough sometimes for a spread offense. What are you guys talking about in terms of making adjustments so you're maybe a little bit more efficient in the red zone going forward?

Malik: Matt Golden comes to mind in terms of some red zone options. Sanfilippo is another alternative. I think we have some plays, but I think the plays start to become difficult when we are not in sync. When you're struggling to just get the first down, getting fourth and goal for a touchdown seems a much, much bigger hill to climb than what it really is. And I think as a play caller, whether your offense is clicking or not, you're really trying to find something that they can do and be confident in doing. And, believe it or not passing, when you're with the backup quarterback is probably not what you're thinking to kind of get the guys settled and play confident and execute.

Malik: So, indeed, I think any offense is tough once you get in the red zone, but you also have to have that hunger where you know, grandma just made apple pie and you can smell it. You're right there and even though you've got to wait for it to cool down, or you've got to wait to eat your dinner, like that smell should keep you thriving for it.

Malik: We talked about a laborer's appetite should keep you coming back to the table. And you do all that labor to get to the red zone, might as well come back to the table and punch it in, get some pay dirt off of it. So, we've got to work on it. We've got to work on putting points on the board period. In two games we only have 13 points. So in the broader scale of it, whatever we're not doing offensively or not doing defensively, we both need to fix it.

Aaron: It seems like first-year Tyler Bridge had another solid game, not only punting the ball, but also obviously running the ball as well.

Malik: Yeah. How about your all-conference punter, potentially, could be a pretty good tailback.

Malik: Look, the hometown hero. T-Bridge is doing a wonderful job. He has some timing issues right now-

Aaron: He narrowly avoided a couple blocks there didn't he?

Malik: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. And the speaks to some of the timing that he just innately understands. Here's the thing, some guys you don't have to teach everything to, some guys you've got to cover everything, and then you've got a guy like Bridge who kind of has a hand in everything and can do a little bit of everything. I think the bigger challenge for us is to not overwhelm him, because he can do a lot.

Malik: And when you're not putting up points right now, that probably will be the first thing you think to do. Put more on his plate, he has production. And it's a system overload can ruin the production and confidence, and so it's a delicate balance for our entire football club. Our players need to work harder so they can go into the game confident. Because that's the only way that's going to happen now and then our coaches need to simplify and be able to amplify what we do well, but at the same time, not by adding more stuff. And that's a challenge when you want to be on the competitive edge offensively and pass game wise, but if we're not doing all of it right, what are we doing right? And let's kind of build on that.

Aaron: You guys spent a lot of time out there on the field after the game talking to the players and whatnot, what was your primary message?

Malik: You know Thursday morning at our practice we get in the endzone and we take a deep breath and we just looked at our field. My statement to them was, "This is your field. This is your first opportunity to embrace what's yours and to fight for something that someone's coming here to try to take." And, the reason and this may sound, I'm not sure how it would sound, but I didn't want them to leave the field, because it's still theirs. And whatever pain and noise and agony that comes from what we're hearing because the team is celebrating, we have to own that. And it's my hopes that that hurt feeling or that painful feeling creates something in us that will not allow it to happen again.

Malik: I've never been someone to run from it. I want to see it, all of it, so I know what not to do again. I think that's how I got out of college in academia is that the pain of the not getting a good grade brought me to the professor's office. It put me into the tutors or into my tutor sessions two hours past when I had it. It's the pain of failure that for me, what makes the work ethic intense and genuine, because that pain was genuine, and so we'll try to alleviate that. And I think at times we try to alleviate it by acting as if, "Oh that never happened. It was a nightmare. It was a bad dream."

Malik: You can take that approach for that same bad dream and show up a week from now. I think it's the power in our pain is facing it. And it was hard to hear them cheer on the field. It was even more difficult to know that that was our first home game performance. Be that as it may, when the game is over, you are where you are when it's over. And we have to accept where we are, and make a commitment to get better.

Aaron: All right, Malik Hall, thanks so much for joining us, appreciate it.

Malik: And again it's always a great day to be a Bobcat.


Aaron: Both tennis teams have gotten their fall seasons underway. Two weeks ago the Bates men competed at the Middlebury Invitational and last weekend the Bobcats hosted the Wallach Women’s Invitational. Head Coach Paul Gastonguay likes what he sees from his respective squads.

Paul: I am really excited about our incoming first-years. They all came in ready to go, super high level, a lot of depth. Our returning players as well playing a super high level. The tournaments that we play in the fall are really to help organize the team and give us a sense of what pairings will work well for doubles, who's in top form right now for singles, but that's going to keep building as the fall moves on, and as we move into our investment season. Until February we're going to be training and working hard and they'll be playing matches on their and they'll continue to build, but it's very optimistic for the spring because we have a really high level team on both teams.

Aaron: And this past weekend the women got to obviously use the nice outdoor courts we have here at the Wallach Tennis Center, and you welcomed multiple, like Brandeis was here and I believe Bowdoin as well. And Bowdoin just hired the guy who used to coach Brandeis right?

Paul: Correct. So we had a good group of teams. We had DII Merrimack as well, Trinity and Colby, so it was a good selection of teams with all high level doubles and the way we ran that tournament was we had a front draw and a back draw and so everyone kept playing as the weekend went on. You weren't knocked out. So, that's by design because every school that comes to this tournament wants the opportunity to try different pairings against other teams. It's really hard to organize your team when you're playing yourself.

Paul: And, it was a great opportunity and I saw a lot of great things this weekend from a lot of our pairings and first-years who were more new to doubles, but really caught on as the weekend went on and got better and better.

Aaron: Is doubles kind of rare then in high school?

Paul: What happens in high school is the top players, the elite players are at the top of the lineup in a lot of school systems and leagues play the top three players in singles and then they'll have a couple doubles. In some prep school leagues they'll play it like a college format, with three doubles and six singles. But they will, it depends on the league if they repeat players.

Paul: So generally you're dealing with the top players mostly playing singles through their career and they have to learn how to play doubles. And so, we're good at that. We know how to teach doubles and how to coach it up and I saw amazing growth over the weekend. I was really excited it.

Aaron: Any individuals who really had a standout weekend in your opinion?

Paul: I think as a team, we have 13 women and we had nine men playing. We have a few injuries. It's hard to pick one out of the group. I thought as a team we really did a good job competing and that's the same with the men last weekend at Middlebury. I thought we all competed really well, and that's the hardest thing to teach that those intangibles that make you fight when it's tough instead of running away and I thought we all did a good job on both weekends of really fighting.

Aaron: Yeah, I know injuries from the men's team really had to do with a lot last season right?

Paul: Yeah, we're still dealing with some of that but it's looking really positive and those players are ... I'm being strategic and we're making good decisions so that they'll be really healthy for the spring, but they're training hard and they're doing everything they can and they look really good. Just trying to be smart.

Aaron: Well one of the headliners just from what he's done in the past and being an All-American is Jacob Kauppila and what he's done during his career. What are you expecting to see from him ... I can't believe it is his senior year now.

Paul: Yeah. We have an amazing senior class. Jacob, Vid, Glove and Eise, I mean they're an amazing group and they've been together for four years and they really committed and they see this influx of first-years as a really positive shot in the arm, and I think they're really doing a good job working harder than ever. They're very diligent. They're lifting and they're running together as a team. We're playing a lot of match play. Jacob's a match play kind of guy and our seniors have shown that they're really competitive and they're really good examples for the first-years, but in the same token the first-years are showing the seniors that they're leaders also right now. So, that's what we're asking from everyone is from day one, lead and test your teammates.

Aaron: New England ITAs for both the men and the women this weekend, right, but different locations?

Paul: Yeah. This is probably the hardest weekend for me mentally during the year because I flip every year and so last year I went with the women, so this year I'm going with the men. So we'll be up at Colby and Sam Woods, Associate Head Coach, will be with the women up at Middlebury, and I'm always torn because I want to be both places, so, hopefully we do well, we make it through Sunday, if not, I could be driving five hours to Middlebury. So, I'm hopeful that we'll have a good showing. I think we've got a couple single players in on the men's side and I think three on the women's side, and two doubles teams on the women's side and one singles team on the men's side. So, we should have a good weekend.

Aaron: How's it set up in terms of ITAs compared to maybe say Middlebury for the men?

Paul: It's a selection committee that chooses the entrants and a lot of it has to do with your national ranking the year before. If you get extra spots. So the women were top 25, so they got a few extra spots which is great. With the men's team we had a couple injuries last spring at the wrong time, all at the same time, and that kind of pushed us out. Didn't mean we weren't a very strong team, it just pushed us out of the rankings and so we have a few less selections this year.

Aaron: Yeah, I'd say the women's team since back when I started at Bates about five years ago now and the women's team has really, each year it seems like, getting better and better.

Paul:They're an amazing group. They have a great culture as do the men's team. I think it's really the athletes, the student-athletes, they're all leaders, they all care about each other, they all work hard, and they're inclusive. They want to push each other, but they're also supportive. It's the perfect environment for growth and development and for success.

Aaron: All right, any other thoughts on the fall season and what you're most looking forward to these next few weeks as you continue to have that and the men will have their own Wallach Invitational soon as well?

Paul: It's interesting over the years, you know this is my 24th year, and I think as you get older, you get a little bit wiser and you know that this isn't the season to peak in, and if we're playing great ball that's awesome, and we want to, and we want to keep progressing, but I look at it as really a developmental season. I'm trying to get our teams to look at it that way as well, to play free, to use things that we're actually working on in practice, and not worry about the result. But we're worried about their growth and their development and because our eye is on the spring and the future if we can keep developing and keep using these new skills in match play in these opportunities that we have in the fall, we're going to be well served in the spring, because we'll be different players by then.


Aaron: Senior captain Andrew Garcia-Bou and first-year Chloe Baylor led the men’s and women’s golf teams at the Williams Fall Invite and the Mount Holyoke Invitational respectively over the weekend. Garcia-Bou finished strong with a 76 on Sunday and Baylor finished in a tie for 39th out of 90 players.

Aaron: And next time on the Bates Bobcast, we’ll recap a very busy home weekend for Bates fall athletics, with volleyball, soccer and field hockey all competing on campus. Meanwhile the football team heads to Wesleyan and the golf and tennis programs continue their fall seasons as well. Find the complete schedule at gobatesbobcats.com and we’ll recap it all, next time, on the Bates Bobcast!