Men's lax does it again: upsets No. 3 Tufts 19-18 in overtime thriller

The Bobcats swarm Charlie Fay after his game-winning goal. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College) 

LEWISTON, Maine -- The Bates men's lacrosse team upset two-time defending NCAA champion Tufts for the second straight year, as Charlie Fay scored the game-winning goal in the second sudden-victory overtime period in a pulse-pounding 19-18 triumph Tuesday night at Garcelon Field.

The No. 3 nationally ranked Jumbos (11-2, 7-1 NESCAC) suffered their first conference loss of the season while No. 14 Bates rose to 9-3 (5-3 NESCAC). The win was reminiscent of Bates' landmark 12-8 win at Tufts a year ago, which ended the Jumbos' winning streaks of 24 games overall and 28 at home. Tufts avenged that defeat with a 13-8 win over Bates in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Championship tournament.

"I said to the guys that's one of the greatest games ever played on this field, and Charlie Fay corrected me and said 'Coach, come on. It is THE greatest game ever played on this field,'" said head coach Peter Lasagna. "It was amazing. We have so much respect for Tufts and we knew it was going to be a game of runs. And God bless America, it was a game of runs."

Fay's game-winner gave him a game- and career-high six goals. Kyle weber added four goals and two assists, senior Jack Allard (Ridgewood, N.J.) posted three goals and two assists and sophomore Clarke Jones (Pepper Pike, Ohio), making his first career start at midfield, scored three goals with two assists. 

Senior Joe Faria (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.) returned from injury to start in goal for Bates for the first time since March 26, and he allowed 12 goals with four saves. Freshman Mitchell Drake (Annapolis, Md.) played from halftime on to earn the win, making eight saves and allowing six goals in 35 minutes. Bates senior defensive midfielder Ken O'Friel (Scarsdale, N.Y.) came up with a team-high seven ground balls and two caused turnovers.

Jake Gillespie led Tufts with five goals and two assists, with Ben Andreycak addeing four goasl and two assists. Zach Richman also scored four goals. The Jumbos' all-time leading scorer, John Uppgren, was limited to one goal on eight shots but dished out a game-high five assists. 

Alex Salazar made 19 saves for Tufts, helping the Jumbos even out Bates' advantages in shots attempted (61-44), shots on goal (38-30) and ground balls (44-35). Conor Helfrich won 16 of 33 faceoffs and collected a game-high nine ground balls.

After a scoreless first overtime period, Bates won the faceoff to begin the final period. The Bobcats didn't shoot until Weber's outside shot was saved but not controlled by Salazar.

Fay pounced on the rebound and got a shot off in for his sixth goal of the game, setting off a wild celebration in front of the Tufts goal, with the Bobcats piling onto Fay, who was making his first career start at attack.

"I had no idea it went in until my teammates were jumping on me," said Fay. "I don't really know what happened, but I was on the backside of the crease and the ball squirted out. I saw an open net and waited a little bit and knew the goalie was going to overcommit, and I tried to put it high."

Tufts outscored Bates 7-2 in the second quarter to assume a 12-7 halftime lead, which grew to a 13-7 advantage on Gillespie's fifth goal of the game, scored with 12:49 to go in the third. 

Junior Andrew Melvin (Medfield, Mass.) answered 10 seconds later for Bates, beginning the Bobcats' climb back into the game. Bates scored four of the last five goals of the third quarter, then finally tied the game at 15-15 for the first time since it was 6-6 early in the second.

The two teams combined for 10 goals in the first quarter and nine in the second, but they picked up the pace even further in the fourth, as Bates outscored Tufts 7-4. Weber, Allard and Jones all scored two goals apiece in the fourth quarter alone, as did Richman for Tufts.

After Melvin's goal made it 16-16 midway through the fourth, Jones streaked out from behind and buried a shot to give Bates a 17-16 lead. Richman answered on an assist by Andreycak with 6:06 left to make it 17-17. The same sequence repeated itself in the 55th minute of regulation time as Jones moved Bates ahead but Richman answered with the game-tying goal with 4:11 left. 

After that final flurry, neither team found the mark again for a span of over nine minutes, stretching into the second overtime.

The win ended a two-game skid for the Bobcats -- a streak that didn't look like it would be ending with the Jumbos holding a 12-7 halftime lead.

"We were angry," said Fay. "We lost our past two games and we didn't want to see our season slip away. We needed this win and we wanted to make a statement about what we can do."

Bates plays its final home game of the regular season on Saturday against Connecticut College, starting at 1pm.