In tale of two halves, No. 11 men's lacrosse falls 16-14 at Williams

R.J. Sarka scored a pair of goals in the Bates men's lacrosse team's 16-14 loss at Williams on Saturday, March 23, 2019. (File photo by Theophil Syslo/Bates College)

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- The No. 11 nationally ranked Bates men's lacrosse team fell behind by nine goals in the first half, flipped the script in the second half, but fell just short in a 16-14 loss at Williams Saturday afternoon in NESCAC action. 

Junior Brendan Mullally (Baltimore, Md.) and sophomore Jack Scribner (Falmouth, Maine) paced the Bobcats (6-2, 3-1 NESCAC) with three goals apiece. Junior captain Matt Chlastawa (Westfield, Mass.) dished out a game-high five assists and senior captain Rocco Fantoni (Hauppage, N.Y.) added a team-high seven ground balls and a game-high three caused turnovers. 

Jake Haase and Cory Lund led the Ephs (5-1, 3-1 NESCAC) with three goals each. Haase dished out a team-high three assists and Lund added a pair of assists as well. 

Alex Kitt made a big impact for the Ephs, winning 19-33 faceoffs and recording a game-high 15 ground balls. The Ephs won the ground ball battle by a count of 41-25. 

The Bobcats found themselves down 14-5 at halftime. But junior Rob Strain (Montclair, N.J.) came off the bench and shot down the Ephs in goal, recording 10 saves on 12 shots in the second half. He also recorded four ground balls. Harry Gahagan recorded 12 saves on 26 shots between the pipes for Williams, earning the win. 

Down 14-5, the Bobcats opened the third quarter on a 5-0 run, with four different players scoring goals. Junior R.J. Sarka (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) got the scoring started on an assist from Chlastawa with 12:50 left in the quarter. Less than a minute later, senior Andrew Small (Deerfield, Ill.) found the back of the net and with 10:05 remaining in the third quarter, junior Otis Klingbeil (Powell, Ohio) connected with senior Matt Kelleher (Newburyport, Mass.) to make the score 14-8 in favor of the Ephs.

Then Mullally went to work for the Bobcats, scoring the next two goals on assists from Chlastawa to trim the deficit to four with 3:37 left in the quarter.

But seconds later, Lund answered for Williams with his third goal of the day, extending the Eph lead back to five.

The Bobcats opened the fourth quarter on a 3-0 run, with Mullally scoring again on yet another Chlastawa assist. Then Small and Scribner scored unassisted tallies to cut the Williams lead to 15-13 with 8:45 remaining. 

That's as close as Bates got, with Brendan Hoffman scoring for the Ephs with 8:11 remaining and Sarka answering for the Bobcats with 6:03 left.

Bates recorded three shots down the stretch, but Gahagan made a pair of saves and another Bobcat attempt got blocked as Williams held on for the win over the Bobcats.

The game turned in the second after after Williams outscored Bates 7-4 in the opening quarter. In the second quarter, Williams outscored Bates 7-1, taking a commanding lead into halftime that just held up despite the Ephs only scoring two goals in the second half to Bates' nine. 

Bates looks to bounce back Saturday when the Bobcats host Hamilton at 12pm.