Men's lacrosse defeats Keene State in 14-13 thriller

Charlie Fay scored four or more goals for the third time this season in a 14-13 victory over Keene State on March 23, 2016. (File photo by Josh Kuckens/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- Senior Jack Allard's tight-angled shot with 17 seconds left in regulation gave the No. 6 nationally ranked Bates men's lacrosse team the final lead in a thrilling 14-13 non-conference victory over Keene State on Wednesday evening, in a rematch of a 2015 NCAA Tournament matchup last May. 

The host Bobcats (6-1) are currently ranked fourth among New England Division III teams by the New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association, while the visiting Owls (3-3) are ranked seventh.

The game featured five lead changes and eight ties, despite Bates' big advantages in shots attempted (61-32), shots on goal (34-19) and faceoffs won (24-7). Keene State goalie Mat Howe made 20 saves, while two Bates goalies combined for six stops. Senior Joe Faria (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.) started and made four saves in the first half against eight goals allowed. First-year Mitchell Drake (Annapolis, Md.) played the second half, making two saves and allowing five goals in picking up his first career victory.

Allard (Ridgewood, N.J.) took a pass from behind the Keene State goal and made a quick dodging move before releasing his trademark low shot from the right goal-line extended, and the ball found its way past Howe and into the net. Allard's goal came on the last shot of the game, 41 seconds after Bates' timeout called in the final minute. 

Keene State received the ball for the final 10.9 seconds of the game after a delay of game penalty was called on the Bobcats, but after a mishandled pass, the Owls couldn't get a final shot off.

Allard and junior Charlie Fay (Falmouth, Maine) scored four goals apiece for Bates (6-1), and sophomore Clarke Jones (Pepper Pike, Ohio) added a career-high three goals with one assist. Breschi added two goals, junior Kyle Weber (Chagrin Falls, Ohio) had a goal and an assist, and senior Charlie Hildebrand (Berwyn, Pa.) and junior Jake Walsh (Baltimore, Md.) had two assists apiece.

Junior Sam Francis (Newburyport, Mass.) won 18 of 25 faceoffs he took and scooped a game- and season-high 10 ground balls. First-year Eli Cooper (Glastonbury, Conn.) won all six of his faceoffs and notched a crucial assist in the fourth quarter.

Rob Hart and Tyler McKelvie had four goals and one assist apiece to lead the Owls. Reilly scored three times and Bryan Rotatori added a goal and two assists. Hunter Arnold also handed out a pair of assists.

Keene State took its final lead at 12-11 with 4:49 left in the fourth quarter, as Hart scored on a McKelvie assist to cap a 3-0 Owl run. Cooper won the ensuing faceoff for Bates, found an open lane into Keene's defensive end and dished to Breschi on his left side, allowing Bates to tie the game back up at 12-12 just seven seconds after Keene's go-ahead score.

Weber then returned the lead to Bates with his lone score and the third goal of the game's 56th minute, finding shooting space as he ran from left to right around the perimeter. 

Undeterred, Keene came back to tie it one last time with 2:44 to go, as Hart's crossing pass reached Rotatori for an open shot on the right wing.

Cooper won the following faceoff and Bates took four that all missed the mark before Allard's game-winner.

The third quarter saw both teams assume two-goal leads. Keene opened the half with an unassisted tally by John Debenedet 83 seconds in for a 9-7 Keene lead. Bates dominated the rest of the period, holding Keene scoreless for the next 15 minutes in a 4-0 Bobcat run. Hildebrand assisted on two straight to even the game on goals by Breschi at 10:33 and Jones at the 9:04 mark. Jones' score came after a flag was thrown against Keene, giving Bates a man advantage, which the Bobcats exploited for their lone extra-man goal, a Fay tally on Walsh's assist.

Walsh found Fay again with 7:41 to go in the third for an 11-9 Bates lead, and the remainder of the third quarter was scoreless for both sides.

Bates will host Williams in a NESCAC game on Saturday at 1pm; Keene State returns to Maine for its next game at Colby next Wednesday at 4:30pm.