Wesleyan foils upset bid by Bobcats in men’s lacrosse
|Craig Blake ’08′s goal with 6:12 remaining gave Bates a 6-5 lead.|
MIDDLETOWN, Conn. — Freshman Jon Killeen took a pass from sophomore Russ Follansbee to the doorstep of the goal and netted his third goal of the game with :52 left in overtime to make Wesleyan University (14-1, 8-1 NESCAC) a 7-6 instant winner over visiting Bates College (6-6, 3-6 NESCAC) on Saturday.
The loss combined with Bowdoin’s win over Williams on Saturday gives Bowdoin seventh place in the final conference standings, and the final seed in the NESCAC Championships. Bates misses postseason play for the first time since 2004.
It was Wesleyan’s fourth overtime game in its last seven starts, all of them won by the Cardinals, ranked fourth nationally in Division III and currently riding a nine-game win streak.
Despite the win, Wesleyan ended up the number-two seed in the upcoming NESCAC tournament by virtue of Tufts’ overtime victory against Middlebury, which locked up the top seed for the Jumbos. Wesleyan will host seventh-seeded Bowdoin, which knocked off Williams in its regular-season finale to get into the tournament ahead of Bates, in a first-round matchup Sunday, April 29 at 1 p.m. Wesleyan defeated Bowdoin on the road, 7-3, during the regular season.
Neither Bates nor Wesleyan led by more than two goals in the contest as the Cardinals scored first on a bouncer by senior Mike Hines, but Bates responded with the next two goals, the first by sophomore Sam Geller (Berkeley, Calif.) and the second by junior Justin Simon (Canaan, N.H.), who ended the game with three goals for the Bobcats as he leads the squad with 26 markers this season.
Wesleyan (14-1, 8-1 NESCAC) forged a tie on sophomore Jason Ben-Eliyahu’s 31st goal of the season. His 32nd goal coming at :41 of the third period made it a 5-5 game as Bates led 3-2 after one period and 4-3 at halftime. A 4-2 Bates lead on junior Mike Medeiros’ (Concord, Mass.) goal to open the second-period scoring at 8:46 gave the Bobcats the game’s largest margin.
But it was a goal by junior Craig Blake (Ballston Lake, N.Y.) for Bates which was most celebrated as he caught a clearing pass from junior goaltender Will Paddock (six saves) near the midfield stripe and raced another 40 yards to fire in a low shot to the long side with 6:12 remaining for a 6-5 Bates lead. Killeen netted his second goal at 4:08 to deadlock the score at 6-6.
Wesleyan had possession with less than four minutes to go but Bates took it away and after a series of exchanges, Bates had the ball in the closing minute. With under 30 seconds to go in regulation, Medeiros received a pass right in front of the Wesleyan goal but his shot was stuffed by senior goalie Charlie Congleton, his ninth save of the contest.
Each team had a possession in overtime as Wesleyan controlled the faceoff but eventually lost it to Bates. The shot by Killeen, which he tucked in low from about three feet off the right side of the crease, was the only one of overtime. It was his 19th goal of the year.
Playing in their final lacrosse game for Bates were seniors Rory Baldini (Milton, Mass.), Peter Boston (Acton, Mass.), Amadi Cisse (Hanover, N.H.), Matt Erisman (Nantucket, Mass.), John Kinnane (Little Compton, R.I.) and Ithai Schori (New York, N.Y.).