No. 4 Wesleyan Advances to Final Four! Holds off No. 3 Bates in a NCAA Quarterfinal Thriller, 14-13

Photo by Steve McLaughlin
Photo by Steve McLaughlin

THE BASICS:

Score: Wesleyan 14, Bates 13
Records: Wesleyan (20-1); Bates (16-2)
Location: Middletown, Conn. (Jackson Field)
Date: Wednesday, May 17
Time: 4:30 p.m.
The Lead: Ahead 6-0 at halftime, the No. 4 Wesleyan University men's lacrosse team saw its lead slowly diminish as No. 3 Bates College tied the game with 1:29 to play in regulation. However, junior Harry Stanton came up big for the Cardinals once again and found the back of the net for the game-winner with 38 seconds remaining in the game as Wesleyan edged the Bobcats, 14-13 in a thrilling NCAA Division III Quarterfinal game to return to the Final Four for the first time since 2007, and the third time overall.

FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The Cardinals dominated the time of possession in the first half, while senior goalie Ted Bergman made several impressive saves early on.
  • Wesleyan scored the first goal of the game at the 8:17 mark as Christian Barker '19 connected with Cole Turpin '18 to put the home team ahead.
  • In the closing seconds of the first quarter, Stanton scored his first of the game (:18) to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead after one.
  • The home team continued to increase its lead over the next 15 minutes of play.
  • With 10:54 on the clock, Taylor Ghesquiere '18 received a pass from Barker and sent one past Bates goalkeeper Rob Strain.
  • Just over three minutes later, Tom Dupont '17 took advantage of a man-up opportunity and put the Cardinals ahead by four with 7:14 remaining in the half.
  • Wesleyan remained on the attack, but most importantly, kept the ball away from Bates' potent offense as Stanton and Carter Hawthorne '19 scored with 5:41 and 1:13 remaining, respectively, to give the Cardinals a commanding 6-0 halftime lead.
  • Stanton scored two goals in the first 30 minutes of play, while Hawthorne totaled two points on one goal and one assist, and Barker dished out two assists.
  • Wesleyan held Bates scoreless in the first half, marking the first time this season that the Bobcats did not score in a half.

SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS:

  • It was a different story in the final 30 minutes of play.
  • Bates' offense came alive early in the third quarter as Matt Chlastawa and Kyle Weber scored back-to-back goals at the 13:04 and 12:02 marks, respectively, to get within four.
  • However, as the momentum began to shift in the Bobcats favor, Wesleyan quickly put an end to the visitor's run as Stanton scored less than two minutes later (10:55). With 7:49 to play, Barker put the Cardinals back up by six, and just 13 seconds later, Zach Zavalick '20 won the faceoff and found Ben Shively '18 who put one in the back of the net to give Wesleyan a 9-2 lead with 7:36 remaining in the third.
  • Bates remained resilient despite facing their biggest deficit of the game, and less than a minute later, Andrew Melvin scored his first goal to open a 5-0 Bobcats' run.
  • Seconds after Melvin's goal, the NESCAC Player of the Year Charlie Fay eventually got on the board, and off the ensuing faceoff, with a man-up advantage, he scored again just 18 seconds apart to put the Bobcats within four (9-5).
  • Fay scored his third consecutive goal at the 3:56 mark, off an assist from Matt Chlastawa, and Melvin found the back of the net once again just nine seconds later to get within two.
  • However, Wesleyan put an end to the run 46 seconds later as Ghesquiere connected with Stanton during a man-up opportunity. Stanton then found Tom Martello '20 with 1:36 remaining on the clock to put the Cardinals back up by four as they would take an 11-7 lead into the fourth quarter.
  • Ghesquiere put the home team ahead by five at the 13:11 mark, but Bates went on a 3-0 run that was capped off by a man-up goal from Fay with 5:06 on the clock to get within two, 12-10.
  • Another goal from Ghesquiere with 2:54 remaining gave Wesleyan a 13-10 lead, but Kyle Weber connected with Fay just 48 seconds later to cut the deficit to two.
  • The Bobcats took advance of an un-releasable Wesleyan penalty shortly after as Weber found Fay for the third time in the quarter at the 1:47 mark, and just 18 seconds later, Melvin dished one off to Fay to even the game at 13-13.
  • Despite the momentum heavily in Bates favor, Wesleyan's star junior attack, Harry Stanton, came up big when it mattered and sent one right past Strain with :38 remaining on the clock.
  • The Bobcats gained possession with 14 seconds to play in regulation, and Weber had a great shot on net, but Bergman made the game-winning save as time expired to give the Cardinals the thrilling victory.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • Stanton finished with six points on five goals and one assist, and also grabbed a game-high six ground balls. Ghesquiere added three goals and one assist, and Barker finished with five points on four assists and one goal. Zavalick and Jason Gibson '17 were terrific on faceoffs, while Zavalick went 11-20 and Gibson finished 4-8. Bergman came up big once again for the Cardinals and made 13 saves in net.
  • Fay finished with seven goals and one assist, all in the second half. Melvin and Weber each scored twice and dished out three assists, and Chlastawa scored one and recorded three assists.
  • Wesleyan held a 31-27 edge in ground balls, while the shots were even at 46-46. Bates also went 12-13 on clear attempts and the Cardinals finished 11-13.

BEYOND THE BOX SCORE:

  • The Cardinals improve to 9-4 all-time in the national postseason, and advance to the semifinals for the third time in program history.
  • Wesleyan has now won 20-straight games, and avenged its season-opening loss to Bates.

HEAD COACH JOHN RABA:

  • "I couldn't be more proud of our guys. The offense stepped up today. We knew we had to get to around 12 or 13 goals because they are such a high scoring team. I couldn't be more proud of them.
  • "We knew they were going to have a run. We dominated the possession in the first half, and we knew at some point it was going to balance out. The key for us was trying to manage the third quarter, if we could have a lead after that, we were feeling pretty good. They made their run, but we responded every time and kept that distance. That was good, I'm happy our guys were still feeling confident and were still taking their shots, and not getting jittery. They were still trying to score and that definitely paid off."

UP NEXT:

  • Wesleyan advances to the NCAA Semifinals and will play at No. 2 RIT on Sunday, May 21 with a game time to be determined.
  • The Tigers defeated No. 8 Cortland today, 15-9.
  • Wesleyan and RIT have only played each other one other time, in the second round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament. The Cardinals won that game, 11-8.

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