April 20, 2017
Despite being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, the men’s lacrosse team hopes to conclude the 2017 season with a renewed sense of optimism. The season began with a sense of promise, but ultimately the team fell short of its playoff aspirations in an injury-plagued 2017 campaign. With a strong cast of returning contributors, the Continentals look ahead to the 2018 season, where the coaching staff hopes young talent will mature into a strong veteran presence.
Following a winless spring break, the men’s lacrosse team hoped to bounce back against the one of the nation’s top teams, the Bates Bobcats, on April 2. The NESCAC teams traded goals in the opening quarter, but the Bobcats surged to a 5-2 lead with three consecutive goals. Another three goal run in the second quarter put the Bobcats up six goals, a lead they would preserve comfortably throughout the 19-10 victory over the Continentals. Sophomores Henry Hill and Clay McCollum attempted to spark the Hamilton offense, scoring four and three goals respectively. The 60 shots from the potent Bates attack, however, proved too much for the goaltending combination of Noah Weissman ’18 and John Schisler ’17. Bates is currently leading the NESCAC with a 10-0 conference record and was ranked number two in the nation in the most recent NCAA Division III men’s lacrosse USILA Coaches’ Poll.
The men’s lacrosse team suffered another defeat just a few days later, conceding 20 goals to the Middlebury Panthers on April 5. Halfway through the second period, the Continentals were within one goal of Middlebury, trailing 5-4. Unfortunately, the Panthers compiled a scoring outburst, rattling off 12 unanswered goals before J.D. Brachman ’17 finally broke the Continentals’ scoring drought. Less than one minute later, Brachman tallied his second goal of the game, but the rally proved too little too late as Middlebury cruised to a crucial 20-7 win, bolstering, its playoff aspirations.
The relentlessly brutal NESCAC schedule continued with a matchup against the Tufts Jumbos on April 8. Heading into the game, the Jumbos sat firmly at second nationally in Division III men’s lacrosse (they have since dropped to third with a pair of conference losses). The second period proved to be problematic for the second straight game for the Continentals, who allowed nine goals in 15 minutes to the top-scoring team in the conference. The back lines played to a stalemate in the third period with each team allowing one goal apiece, but the damage had already been done, and the Jumbos closed out the 18-6 win. McCollum and Brachman each scored a pair of goals, and Henry Hunt ’20 and Chad Morse ’19 rounded out the scoring for Hamilton. Schisler made 14 saves on 22 shots faced between the pipes for the Continentals.
An early deficit proved costly yet again in Hamilton’s 15-9 defeat at the hands of Williams on April 11. The Continentals were outscored 5-1 in the first period and 3-1 against the playoff bound Ephs to trail 8-2 heading to the halftime break. After trading goals in the third period, the Continentals faced another double-digit deficit with eight minutes remaining in the game. Hamilton finished the game with four consecutive goals, but ran out of time to execute the improbable comeback. Will Gabriel ’19 scored his first goal of the season in the loss, while Morse powered the Hamilton offense with a hat trick.
The Continentals entered Saturday’s game against Connecticut College in desperate need of a win to revitalize their NESCAC playoff hopes. The Camels jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first period and closed out the quarter clinging onto an early 4-2 advantage. The second period was a defensive masterpiece by the Continentals back line, holding Connecticut College scoreless for 15 minutes. Chris Conley ’20 and Hill entered the scoring column for Hamilton in the period to level the score at 4-4 heading into halftime. The Continentals continued their scoring streak by rattling off four straight (including two goals by Hill), but were countered by a quick three goal surge by the Camels to cut the Hamilton lead to 8-7. The two teams traded scoring runs through the fourth period, playing to an 11-11 stalemate with under four minutes remaining in the must-win game. Hill scored his career-best fifth goal of the game to retake the lead for the Continentals with 3:56 left to play, but just 22 seconds later, Connecticut College’s Jordan Foster ’19 leveled the game at 12. The Camels clinched the victory when Maximilian King ’17 slotted the game-winning goal to eliminate Hamilton from the NESCAC postseason.
In Hamilton’s final non-conference game of the season, the Continentals held off a late push by Hartwick to secure their fourth win of the spring. Goals from McCollum (two), Jack Gaul ’18 (two), and Zach Kleinbaum ’19 gave Hamilton a comfortable 5-2 advantage through two periods in Oneonta, New York. The Continentals extended their lead to 10-6 following a five goal third period, sparked primarily by the play of Conley who scored all four of his goals in the period. Hartwick stormed back to tie the game at 10 goals apiece with under four minutes remaining. Gaul proved to be the hero in the game for Hamilton, rifling the game-winner past Harwick’s goalie with 1:52. Schisler made a clutch save on Hartwick’s final offensive push, and the staunch Hamilton defense forced a turnover to seal the 11-10 win.
Missing the playoffs is disappointing for a Hamilton team that had high expectations entering the spring season, but there is much cause for optimism in the underwhelming performance this year. Hamilton’s men’s lacrosse team is very young and will benefit from a full season of experience playing in one of Division III Lacrosse’s most talented conferences. Playing against top-tier opponents week after week will prove beneficial when the squad returns for battle next season. The Continentals will return their top-five scorers from the 2017 season, including leading point-getter McCollum (32) and first-year standout Conley. Morse led the Continentals in assists with nine, and has tallied 20 points this season with just one game remaining. The Continentals will be without Schisler, who led the Continentals in wins as a goaltender, next year, as well as attackers Nate Weinrauch ’17 (who started all 14 games this season) and Brachman.
The Continentals look to capitalize on the momentum from Tuesday’s victory as they take on Trinity this Saturday, April 22 on the home turf at Steuben Field. Trinity remains winless in NESCAC play this season, while Hamilton hopes to earn its second NESCAC victory against the Bantams. A win would close out a disappointing season on a high note and provide a foundation for the players and coaches to build upon in the 2018 season.