No. 20 men's lacrosse takes down defending national champion No. 1 Wesleyan 15-12

Junior captain Matt Chlastawa scored a game-high five goals and dished out a game-high five assists to lead the No. 20 nationally ranked Bates men's lacrosse team to a 15-12 win over defending national champion No. 1 Wesleyan on Saturday, March 9, 2019. (Theophil Syslo/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- Junior captain Matt Chlastawa scored five goals and dished out five assists to lead the No. 20 nationally ranked Bates men's lacrosse team to a 15-12 win over defending national champion No. 1 Wesleyan Saturday afternoon at Garcelon Field. 

After falling behind 1-0, Bates (3-1, 2-0 NESCAC) grabbed the lead in the first quarter against the Cardinals (2-1, 1-1 NESCAC) and never trailed again in the Bobcats' first win over a top-ranked opponent since they defeated then-No. 1 Tufts 12-8 in 2015.

Wesleyan scored four goals late to make the final margin a close one, but for most of the afternoon the Bobcat defense delivered a strong performance. 

"We had the right people assigned to the right people; this win was keyed by outstanding one-on-one defense," Bates head coach Peter Lasagna said. "Offensively, we wanted to get our quick-strike offense going because they play the best zone defense in the country and most of the time we were able to do that."

With the score tied at one, Chlastawa (Westfield, Mass.) scored an unassisted man-up goal with 10:15 left in the first quarter to give the Bobcats the lead for good. 

The Bobcats went up 4-1 on goals from junior Brendan Mullally (Baltimore, Md.) and sophomore Steven Canale (North Andover, Mass.) before the Cardinals answered with a pair of goals of their own. Scott Irwin scored with 28 seconds left in the first quarter and Carter Hawthorne connected with Christian Barker for a man-up goal with 8:37 left in the second quarter, cutting the Bates lead to 4-3.

But Bates took most of the suspense away with five straight goals to end the second quarter. Mullally got the run started on an assist from Chlastawa with 5:42 remaining in the half. Then junior Otis Klingbeil (Powell, Ohio) connected with Chlastawa for the latter's second score of the day. Senior Dahnique Brown-Jones (New Britain, Conn.) got in on the act with his first goal of the season, ripping a shot from outside with 2:55 to go until halftime. Just 25 seconds later, Chlastawa found Mullally to put the Bobcats up by five. Then with 1:15 left, the Bobcats ended the half on a high note, with Chlastawa dishing out his third assist of the quarter, finding Klingbeil for the goal.

Up 9-3 at halftime, the Bobcats saw their lead cut to four when Ronan Jacoby and Sean Penney scored a goal each for Wesleyan, making the score 9-5 in favor of Bates with 13:47 to go in the third quarter.

Chlastawa had the answer again for Bates.

With 11:03 left in the quarter, he found Mullally for man-up goal and Chlastawa scored a goal of his own a mere nine seconds later to extend the lead back to six.

The Bobcats led 13-6 through three quarter but the Cardinals hung around, scoring the first two goals of the fourth quarter. Colin Uyeki's goal with 10:06 left in the game made the score 13-8.

Both teams clamped down on defense and neither team scored for five minutes until junior captain Curtis Knapton (Westbrook, Maine) assisted on Chlastawa's fifth goal of the afternoon, putting Bates up 14-8 with 4:58 left. 

With 3:22 remaining, sophomore Jack Scribner (Falmouth, Maine) capped off Bates' scoring with an unassisted tally. Then the Cardinals scored four unanswered goals over the final 2:45, but by then it was too little too late for the visitors. 

Coming off his career-best performance against Middlebury, Mullally scored four goals and dished out one assist on Saturday against the Cardinals. Klingbeil tallied a pair of goals and one assist. Senior Eli Cooper (Glastonbury, Conn.) won nine faceoffs and recorded a team-high six ground balls. Senior captain Rocco Fantoni (Hauppage, N.Y.) recorded four ground balls and caused a team-high three turnovers on defense. 

In the cage, senior Mitchell Drake (Annapolis, Md.) earned the win, saving six of nine shots. Junior Rob Strain (Montclair, N.J.) played well in the second half, recording nine saves on 18 shots. Otto Bohan made 17 saves on 32 shots for the Cardinals.

Uyeki paced the Cardinals on offense with three goals. Bates held Hawthorne scoreless but he did dish out three assists. Thomas Clejan recorded six ground balls and Colin Malarchuk caused three turnovers for Wesleyan.

The Bobcats are back in action Tuesday when they host Western New England at 7pm in non-conference play.