CLINTON, N.Y. -- The Bates men's soccer team opened up NESCAC play with a convincing, comeback win against Hamilton College Saturday afternoon. Bates took a commanding 3-1 lead in the second half after rattling off three unanswered goals in a four-minute stretch that sealed the game, including the first two goals of sophomore Luke Protti's career.
It's the sixth straight year the road team has won this early-season conference matchup.
"At this point in the season we will take points any way we can get them," said Bates head coach Tyler Sheikh. "With that, I'm so proud of our guys to stay the course, believe in halftime adjustments and believe in themselves after going down a goal. We applied pressure and got some goals off it. Lucky or not, I'm immensely proud we fought till the end."
The first half was a back-and-forth affair, with neither team able to break through for an opening goal, thanks in large part to several big saves by Bates junior goalkeeper David Goodstein (Bethesda, Md.).
"Coach Nizzi's [Hamilton] team is a NESCAC tournament side that's so well-coached and balanced," said Sheikh. "At home we knew they'd be flying and in the first half we were slow out of the gates to keep pace."
The scoreless tie carried into the second half until Hamilton (1-1, 0-1 NESCAC) broke through in the 62nd minute with a goal from Aidan Wood. After a Hamilton free kick, a scramble for the ball in the box drew Goodstein off of his line, leaving the net vacant. Amidst the chaos, Wood was able to control the ball and slot it away to give Hamilton a 1-0 lead.
It didn't take long for the Bobcats (2-0, 1-0 NESCAC) to draw even, however. In the 69th minute, senior Peder Bakken (Seattle, Wash.) led first-year Myles Guerrier (Canton, Mass.) to net with a through ball down the left side of the box. Guerrier beat the keeper with a beautiful left-footed chip shot to equalize the score.
Guerrier's goal was just the beginning of a decisive flurry for Bates. In the 71st minute, Protti (Amherst, Mass.) took an entry pass from senior Beaufils Kimpolo-Pene (Bronx, N.Y.), turned and shot, to see the ball glance off a Hamilton defender and inside the near right post.
Thirty-nine seconds later, Protti took a lead pass from Kimpolo-Pene, receiving 10 yards outside the box. Protti skillfully drove in on his defender and maintained control on his way toward the baseline, where from the tightest of angles he somehow slotted the ball over Hamilton goalkeeper Thomas Benson's head into the top of the net to give the Bobcats a 3-1 lead. Protti played in his fifth career game and attempted his first three collegiate shots in an eventful day.
Bates prevailed despite a 20-11 Hamilton advantage in shots attempted. Both Goodstein and Benson tallied three saves apiece.
Bates will be back in action on Tuesday at 4:30pm, to host the University of New England in its first game on the newly resurfaced Russell Street Field.