M. Lax earns two vital victories, qualifies for playoffs

Following tough losses to Middlebury and Amherst, the Colby men’s lacrosse team bounced back to defeat in-state rival Bowdoin and NESCAC powerhouse Williams in crucial divisional matchups. The victories secured a spot for Colby in the NESCAC Championship Tournament. The Mules currently sit tied for sixth in the conference standings with Williams, and with one game remaining in the season, can clinch the fifth seed with a win over Bates. If the Mules defeat the Bobcats, they will have their second straight Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) title.

The Mules defeated a scrappy Bowdoin squad in a game with large playoff implications for both sides. The Polar Bears entered the game at 3-9 overall and 2-5 in the NESCAC and were in contention for the last spot in the conference playoffs, but with the loss, dropped out of the postseason picture. The match is always hotly contested, with both sides looking to clinch a win over their rival. The current senior class has emerged triumphant in all but one match against their rival. The Colby victory is the third in a row for the Mules with the last Polar Bear victory coming in the 2011-12 season. This year’s version of the classic did not disappoint. The Mules received big performances from Kevin Seiler ’17 and the senior attackman duo of John Grimaldi and Derek Youngman. Grimaldi and Youngman, both quad-captains, each scored twice, and Seiler notched a hat trick for the Mules as well as an assist. After a slow start by both teams, Colby opened up the scoring seven minutes into the first quarter. The Polar Bears responded and tied the game, but following two quick Colby goals at the end of the first frame, the Mules never relinquished the lead.

Colby continued to dominate on offense, scoring twice more early on in the second quarter, but defensive slip-ups midway through the frame led to two Bowdoin goals to bring the score to 5-3. With the clock winding down to halftime, the Mules netted two goals in 13 seconds to pull further ahead. Colby scored early on in the third, but Bowdoin came out from the half determined to regain lost ground. The Polar Bears netted four unanswered goals and controlled possession and the flow of the game throughout the frame, coming within one goal of the Mules; however, a Colby goal late in the quarter allowed the Mules to regain their composure and solidify their lead. Colby scored four goals in the final frame, sealing the victory with a last minute goal.

Following their morale-boosting victory over Bowdoin, the Mules took on traditional NESCAC powerhouse Williams. The Mules relied heavily on upperclassmen to pull out their dominant 17-9 victory on Senior Day. Grimaldi and Jack Bratches ’16, who had four and three goals respectively, led Colby on the field. The match solidified Colby’s spot in the NESCAC playoffs and brought the Mules to 8-5 overall and 4-5 in the conference.

In the final home game for the senior class, the Mules exchanged goals with the Ephs throughout the first quarter, but a last second goal by Austin Sayre ’17 gave the Mules a slight 4-3 advantage heading into the second frame. Following back-and-forth play, Williams tallied to level the score, but Colby responded by scoring three times in just over a minute. The three-goal stretch allowed the Mules to pull ahead of Williams for good. Colby continued to outplay the Ephs and out-executed on the field. Colby punctuated the half on a perfect feed from Youngman to a cutting Grimaldi who tucked it into the net to complete a first-half hat trick. The Mules continued to dominate play and used a seven goal fourth quarter to solidify a 17-9 victory, the first for the Mules over Williams in two years. Tyler Will ’15 had another solid performance in the net for the Mules, making 18 saves on 25 shots on target.

The Mules will face Bates on Wednesday for the CBB title and the fifth seed in the NESCAC playoffs. Last year, the Mules bowed out in the quarterfinals, falling to Tufts 24-9. Colby has not advanced past the NESCAC quarterfinals since 2002, a year in which the Mules advanced to the conference championship game. If the Mules are victorious against Bates on Wednesday, the team would face Wesleyan, a squad they narrowly lost to, 9-8, earlier in the season.

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