No. 12 men's lacrosse wins at Bowdoin for third straight time, defeats Polar Bears 14-12

Junior Rob Strain recorded 16 saves on 28 shots to help the No. 12 nationally ranked Bates men's lacrosse team defeat Bowdoin 14-12 on Wednesday, April 3, 2019. (File photo by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

BRUNSWICK, Maine -- Junior captain Curtis Knapton scored the go-ahead goal with 9:45 remaining in regulation to lift the No. 12 nationally ranked Bates men's lacrosse team to a 14-12 win at Bowdoin Wednesday night. 

For the third straight time, Bates (8-2, 5-1 NESCAC) earns a road win at Bowdoin. The Bobcats also defeated the Polar Bears (5-5, 2-4 NESCAC) on their turf in 2017 and 2015.

Junior captain Matt Chlastawa (Westfield, Mass.) led all scorers on Wednesday with four goals and three assists. Chlastawa ranks second in the NESCAC with 59 points on the season so far. Junior Rob Strain (Montclair, N.J.) had another outstanding game in the cage, making 16 saves on 28 shots. Strain ranks second in the conference in save percentage at 59.3%. Senior Eli Cooper (Glastonbury, Conn.) won 15-27 faceoffs and recorded a team-high eight ground balls against the Polar Bears. 

Bates fell behind 11-10 with 13:02 left in the fourth quarter when Bowdoin's Zach Chandler connected with Jake Crossman for his team-high third goal of the game. It marked the Bobcats' first deficit of the night since they briefly trailed 1-0 in the first quarter.

Less than three minutes later, junior Brendan Mullally (Baltimore, Md.) tallied the equalizer on an assist from Chlastawa. Bates won the ensuing faceoff on a violation and Knapton (Westbrook, Maine) quickly gave Bates the lead, scoring his third goal of the night.

The Bobcats added to their lead after senior captain Stephen Bull (Baltimore, Md.) caused a turnover and senior captain Rocco Fantoni (Hauppage, N.Y.) picked up the ground ball. The Bobcats cleared it and Mullally found senior Matt Kelleher (Newburyport, Mass.) with 7:51 left in regulation, making the score 13-11 in favor of Bates.

With 4:04 left, the Polar Bears took advantage of a man-up opportunity and cut the Bobcat lead to one on a Brad Ingersoll goal with an assist from Stew Hickey.

Both teams had chances to score again down the stretch but neither could find the back of the net. With 55 seconds remaining, Bowdoin had one last chance, only for a pass to sail high and out of bounds, giving the ball back to Bates. Chlastawa scored on an empty net with 14 seconds to go in regulation for his fourth tally of the night, giving Bates a two-goal victory.

Bates jumped to an early lead, taking advantage of some transition opportunities to hold a 5-1 advantage after just 6:26 of play. The Bobcats led 6-2 after the first quarter of play before Bowdoin stormed back with three goals to cut the lead to 6-5 following a Chandler score midway through the frame. Bates pushed the lead back to three goals thanks to scores from Fantoni and Chlastawa and carried a 9-7 lead into intermission.

The third quarter proved to be very low scoring, with Bowdoin cutting the Bates lead to 10-9 thanks to a Donal Mullane goal. Will Murtagh took advantage of a man-up situation to tie the game at 10 with 14:49 left in regulation. Crossman briefly gave Bowdoin the lead but Bates ended the game on a 4-1 run.

Despite the Polar Bears holding an advantage in shots (51-34) and ground balls (42-30), the Bobcats earned the win thanks in-part to another terrific performance from Strain in the cage. Strain's save percentage of 57.1% on Wednesday marks his eighth straight game saving at least 50% of the shots taken on goal by the opposition.

Bowdoin also turned the ball over 24 times, including eight times in the fourth quarter. The Bobcats turned the ball over 21 times.

Bates is back in action Saturday at Connecticut College. The game is set for 1pm.