LEWISTON, Maine -- Juniors Brendan Mullally and Otis Klingbeil combined to score 11 goals and the Bates men's lacrosse team opened NESCAC play with a 17-10 victory over Middlebury Sunday afternoon on Garcelon Field.
Mullally (Baltimore, Md.) scored a career-high six goals and dished out a career-high five assists for the Bobcats. Mullally's 11 points are the most for Bates in one game since junior captain Matt Chlastawa (Westfield, Mass.) tallied 13 in the 2017 NCAA tournament against Amherst when Chlastawa was a first-year.
Klingbeil (Powell, Ohio), who missed last season with an injury, scored a career-high five goals on Sunday to help the Bobcats (2-1, 1-0 NESCAC) defeat the Panthers (0-1, 0-1 NESCAC) for the third time in the last five regular season games between the two teams. Chlastawa chipped in one goal and three assists.
Senior Eli Cooper (Glastonbury, Conn.) turned in an outstanding performance, winning 17-30 faceoffs and picking up a game-high 10 ground balls. The Bobcats maintained their two-goalkeeper system to start the season, with senior Mitchell Drake (Annapolis, Md.) playing the first half and junior Rob Strain (Montclair, N.J.) playing the second half. Drake (1-1) earned the win, tallying eight saves. Strain closed out the game by tallying five saves.
The Bobcats ended up winning by seven goals but they found themselves down 5-2 at the end of the first quarter. Less than a minute in, Mullally found senior Matt Kelleher (Newburyport, Mass.) for the opening goal of the afternoon. Middlebury answered with five of the next six goals scored, with three of the Panthers' five goals in the first quarter coming off the stick of Tyler Forbes. Forbes scored with just 10 seconds left in the first to put the Panthers up by three.
The game turned in the second quarter. Bates blanked Middlebury 4-0 to take the lead before halftime. Mullally connected with Klingbeil for the go-ahead score with 1:16 left in the half and Bates never surrendered the lead.
The teams traded goals to begin the third quarter before the Bobcats used a 5-0 run to pull away. With 7:48 left in the third, junior captain Curtis Knapton (Westbrook, Maine) started the run with an unassisted tally. It proved to be the only goal of the quarter that did not involve Mullally or Klingbeil.
The Panthers cut the Bates lead to 14-9 with 11:21 left in the game on Forbes' fourth goal of the afternoon. But Mullally found Klingbeil for the latter's fifth goal of the contest to push the lead back to six with 7:06 to play.
Jack Hoelzer found the back of the net for the Panthers with 5:07 remaining to make the score 15-10. Then Mullally put the icing on the cake of his tremendous day with his sixth goal, an unassisted tally with 2:15 left in regulation. Junior R.J. Sarka (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) found an empty net with 52 seconds left and scored his second goal of the afternoon to cap off the scoring for Bates.
Forbes paced Middlebury with four goals and Alderik Vanderheyde added three of his own. Hoelzer ended up with two goals and one assist. Charles Midgley played 45 minutes in the cage and made seven saves on 20 shots.
Bates ripped off 60 shots to Middlebury's 39 and the Bobcats won the ground ball battle 37-29.
Sunday's win marks the most goals the Bobcats have scored in one game against the Panthers in program history.
The Bobcats host defending national champion Wesleyan Saturday at 1pm.