Men’s lacrosse edged 14-12 by No. 3 RIT in season opener at UMass

Rocco Fantoni picked up a game-high seven ground balls in the Bates men's lacrosse team's loss to No. 3 RIT in the Bobcats' season opener on Feb. 23, 2019. (File photo by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

AMHERST, Mass. -- The Bates men's lacrosse team nearly pulled off a big upset in it season opener Saturday, but No. 3 nationally ranked RIT used a third-quarter run and hung on for a 14-12 victory on the neutral Garber Field at UMass-Amherst.

"We played very tough.," said head coach Peter Lasagna. "It was right there for us to get. A vast improvement over [the team's performance in a scimmage at Tufts on] Wednesday."

No. 3 RIT men's lacrosse team used a late third quarter run and hung on from there to edge Bates College 14-12 in the Bobcats' season opener played at UMass-Amherst's Garber Field this afternoon.

The tightly contested game was tied seven times. Junior Matt Chlastawa (Westfield, Mass.) led the Bobcats with four points on a goal and three assists. Junior Curtis Knapton (Westbrook, Maine) tallied three goals and sophomore Jack Scribner (Falmouth, Maine), junior Otis Klingbeil (Powell, Ohio) and junior Brendan Mullally (Baltimore, Md.) each added two goals. Senior Rocco Fantoni (Hauppage, N.Y) scooped up a game-high seven ground balls and caused two turnovers, while senior Dahnique Brown-Jones (New Britain, Conn.) and first-year Jack Golden (Northport, N.Y.) picked up four ground balls each. Senior Eli Cooper (Glastonbury, Conn.) won 12-of-26 faceoffs for the Bobcats. Senior Mitchell Drake (Annapolis, Md.) started the game in goal for Bates and made nine saves in the first half. Junior Rob Strain (Montclair, N.J.) came in for the second half and made four saves.

Ryan Barnstable led RIT with six points on three goals and three assists. Spencer Bell and Patrick Shoemay each picked up five ground balls for the Tigers. Landon Nolta won 15-of 26 faceoffs, and Walker Hare made 20 saves in goal.

The Tigers (2-0) struck first with a goal by Cam Isaac 38 seconds into the game. Knapton answered for the Bobcats just 15 seconds later. RIT got back-to-back goals from Damien Currie to make it 3-1 with 9:09 left in the first quarter. However, Bates responded with back-to-back goals, the first from senior Matt Kelleher (Newburyport, Mass.) and the second from Knapton to tie things up at 3-3 with 4:16 on the clock. Barnstable gave the Tigers a 4-3 advantage scoring with 1:36 left in the first.

Chlastawa evened the score at 4-4 for the Bobcats 2:41 into the second quarter. RIT got a man-up goal from Barnstable followed by a goal from Bell to build a 6-4 lead with 11:55 on the clock. Bates fought back to tie things up again just over a minute later. Klingbell notched a man-up goal off a feed from Chlastawa, and the Knapton tallied his third of the day, also with a man advantage. Kelleher earned the assist on the play. The Tigers' Quinn Commandant made it 7-6 with 8:03 left in the second, but the Bobcats knotted the score with on a man-up goal by Klingbell once again off an assist from Chlastawa. Isaac registered his second goal of the day to put RIT on top 8-7 with 2:28 remaining in the first half, but junior R.J. Sarka (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) tied the game up for Bates for the sixth time 1:24 before the break.

Commandant opened the second half scoring with his second goal of the game for RIT 48 seconds in. With 9:15 left in the third, Mullally tied the game up at 9-9 with a man-up goal for the Bobcats. Senior Andrew Small (Deefield, Ill.) earned the assist. The Tigers scored the next three goals, two while man-up, to build a 12-9 lead with 2:37 left in the third quarter.

RIT scored 26 seconds into the fourth quarter to build their largest lead of the game at four goals. However, the Bobcats answered with three straight goals to get back within one. Mullally recorded his second goal of the game. Sarka tallied the assist. Scribner then posted back-to-back tallies to make it 13-12 with 10:18 to go, bug Bell found the back of the net to push the Tigers' lead to 14-12 with 7:17 on the clock for what proved to be the final score.

Bates finished with a 49-45 advantage in shots, while the Tigers held a 40-36 edge in ground balls.  The Bobcats went 4-for-7 on extra-man opportunities and RIT finished 3-for-8.

The Bobcats are back in action on Wednesday, Feb. 27, when they travel to take on Babson in a non-conference contest at 4 p.m.