No. 6 men's lacrosse's comeback falls short at No. 12 Middlebury

Jack Allard had five goals and an assist in Bates' 15-12 loss at Middlebury on April 9, 2016. (File photo by Josh Kuckens/Bates College) 

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- No. 12 nationally ranked Middlebury tallied four of the game's first five goals and held a 9-3 halftime lead, fending off a comeback attempt from the sixth-ranked Bates men's lacrosse team during a 15-12 NESCAC victory on Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium. 

The Panthers (7-4, 5-2 NESCAC) return to action on Wednesday with a 5:00 p.m. game at Springfield. The Bobcats (8-3, 4-3 NESCAC) will next play host to Tufts on April 19 at 7pm.

Senior Jack Allard (Ridgewood, N.J.) led Bates with five goals and one assist, while junior Charlie Fay (Falmouth, Maine) totaled three goals and one assist.

Middlebury was the first to score when Jack Rautiola tallied his sixth goal of the season following a Bates' turnover at the 12:01 mark of the first quarter. Tim Giarrusso doubled the Panther advantage nearly six minutes later on an assist from Jon Broome following another Bobcat turnover. 

Allard got Bates on the scoreboard with 2:36 to play in the first quarter on a man-up opportunity.

Middlebury pushed its lead back to three (4-1) after one quarter on Giarrusso's right-handed shot from 12 yards out at 2:04 and a tally by Sean Carroll following a quick restart with 54 seconds left.

In the second period, Bates pulled to within a pair when the visitors won the opening face-off, cycled the ball around the zone and junior Andrew Melvin (Medfield, Mass.) cut around the net for his 13th goal of the spring.

The Panthers responded with four-unanswered goals over a span of 7:24 of action, increasing their lead to 8-2 with 6:25 left before halftime. Carroll scored twice during the run, while Jack Gould and Kyle Soroka provided the other two goals.

Fay brought Bates to within five (8-3) at 5:11 on a one-handed scoop shot from six yards away. Cedric Rhodes put the Panthers in front once again by six, swatting a loose ball out of the air just in front of the crease for his eighth goal of the year, sending the hosts to the break with a 9-3 lead.

The third quarter saw Rhodes score his second of the contest when the Panthers took advantage of a man-up chance. He used a quick-stick shot at 13:54 following a pass nearly the width of the field by Soroka in transition.

Bates outscored the Panthers over the remainder of the quarter. Fay started the spurt with a shot just outside the crease on a loose ball with 13:00 on the clock, while junior Jake Walsh (Baltimore, Md.) ripped a left-handed tally from six yards away 58 seconds later. Allard found the back of the net for his second of the game on a nifty feed from junior Scott Baber (Pound Ridge, N.Y.) with 8:56 left. Riehl stopped the Bobcat run on a quick-stick shot from the right side 1:03 later, giving the Panthers an 11-6 lead. 

Junior Kyle Weber (Chagrin Falls, Ohio) closed the third-quarter scoring for the visitors with a left-handed shot from eight yards with at the 4:24 mark, and the Panthers led 11-7 after three.

In the fourth, Bates narrowed its deficit to three (11-8) when Baber scored on a shot from 10 yards that snuck through the legs of Middlebury goalie Will Ernst at the 11:32 mark. The Panthers answered with goals by Soroka, Broome and Carroll to regain a six-goal lead with 6:44 remaining.

Allard, the NESCAC's leading goal scorer, recorded three straight tallies for Bates, giving him 33 for the season. The final one came on a shot that found the upper-right corner over the shoulder of Ernst, bringing Bates to within three (14-11) with 1:59 left. Giarrusso added his third of the day and 18th of the season with 48 seconds left, while Fay completed the scoring with 11 ticks remaining on a man-down situation for Bates from 10 yards out for the final 15-12 score.

Carroll paced the Panther attack scoring four times, while Giarrusso (3-1-4) and Rautiola (1-3-4) both produced four-point games. John Jackson won 23 of 30 faceoffs for MIddlebury and led all players with 12 ground balls. Ernst made nine saves.

Melvin, senior Ken O'Friel (Scarsdale, N.Y.) and senior Matt Proto (Chatham, N.J.) each had three ground balls for the Bobcats, while first-year goalie Mitchell Drake (Annapolis, Md.) also scooped up three rollers and made 12 saves for the visitors. Baber had a career-high three points on one goal and two assists.

Middlebury held a 49-33 advantage in shots and 30-26 edge in ground balls. The Panthers went 2-4 on the man-up opportunities, while the Bobcats were 1-2.