Bates Bobcast Episode 158: Football's historic comeback, winter sports preview part 1
The Bates football team pulled off its biggest come-from-behind victory since 1969 when the Bobcats rallied from 21 points down to defeat Hamilton 26-21 on Saturday. Plus, it's time to preview the squash and women's basketball seasons. All that and more, on the Bates Bobcast!
Interviews this episode:
- 2:07 -- Malik Hall, Head Coach, Football.
- 18:10 -- Wide Receiver Sean Bryant '22, Football (Bobcat of the Week).
- 25:41 -- Linebacker Peter Daley '20 & Defensive End Liam Greene '21, Football.
- 34:44 -- Alison Montgomery, Head Coach, Women's Basketball.
- 44:09 -- Luca Polgar '20 & Graham Bonnell '20, Squash captains.
Aaron: This is the Bates Bobcast! Our weekly podcast where we take a look at the week that was, in Bates athletics. My name is Aaron Morse and this week we’re looking back on the biggest comeback victory for the Bates football team...in 50 years! And the winter sports season is upon us. Get the full scoop on the squash and women’s basketball teams. All that and more, coming up, on the Bates Bobcast!
Aaron: The Bates football team rallied from 21 points down to defeat the Hamilton Continentals by a final score of 26-21 on Saturday. Hamilton had the ball late in the first half near midfield, up 21-0. But the Continentals tried to fake a punt and Bates stopped it. The Bobcats took advantage of the opportunity, with junior quarterback Brendan Costa connecting with Sean Bryant for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 16 seconds left in the half.
Aaron: Bates carried the momentum into the third quarter. Sophomore Thomas Formus forced and recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff. Costa found Bryant again and Bates trailed 21-12.
Aaron: With 2:31 left in the game, Costa tossed a 35- yard touchdown pass to junior Parker Smith, trimming the Hamilton lead to 21-19.
Aaron: The Bates defense shut down Hamilton on the ensuing drive. And then the defense made the biggest play of the game. The Continentals lined up to punt and senior Peter Daley applied pressure, forcing them to abandon the attempt. Junior Liam Greene made the tackle and Bates took the ball over deep in Hamilton territory.
Aaron: Two plays later, Bryant caught his third touchdown pass of the afternoon.
Broadcaster: Costa rolls to his left. A floater. Endzone. Touchdown! Bryant comes down with it. And for the first time today, Bates has the lead.
Aaron: Head coach Malik Hall recaps the biggest comeback win for Bates in 50 years.
Aaron: Fifth quarter on the Bates Bobcast with the head coach of the Bobcats, Malik Hall. And Coach Hall what does it mean to be the head coach of a team that just pulled off the biggest comeback in 50 years for Bates football to get that victory on Saturday?
Malik: Man. The first thing is, "Wow." The second thing is it's good to get a win, and for me, I'm saying to myself, "Man, there was so much stuff we left out on that field."
Malik: That could be true of about every game, but these past two weeks, that still was true, we left stuff out there, but we can make those corrections with a win. It's a lot easier to make corrections on a win. But, at the end of the day, getting that win, to close out the year for our seniors, I mean you say 50 years, I think for everyone who's been a part of our program, I think that's a win for them too. I think we're trying to change the record officially and unofficially. And right there that officially changes one record. We can change the record for every Bobcat who let wins get away their year or so the '69 team can say they got Trinity.
Malik: In 2019, we're at that nine year, right?
Malik: And so, though we may not have had the success the '69 team did, now our 2019 group of guys can look in the history books and share that memory that '69 team shares. They came all the way back to beat a Trinity none the less, whether it was the Trinity that we know-
Malik:... still it's Trinity.
Malik: And, just like the guys in this 2019, those eight seniors, for the rest of their life, they'll be able to say that got Hamilton. And I don't know what our record is against Hamilton over time, but not any of our seniors have ever beat Hamilton. And, for them, we talked about last year's seniors planting the seed. I think this senior crew saw a seed sprout by doing something that they had yet to do.
Malik: And the fact that we were able to go back to back wins. Look winning one game was difficult. Winning back to back games are even more difficult. Because your opponent practices on not letting you beat them. Especially with the tools and the plays and the personnel that beat the team prior to them.
Malik: And so, I'm excited for our Bobcat family all around the board. For those who are in California to those who are in Hong Kong. They want to see something happen that they didn't, maybe have a chance to make happen. Or maybe fell short of.
Malik: So we're carrying everyone's dream. And that's what makes college football different. That's what makes tradition different. That's what makes being an alum different. Because everyone who plays with that uniform, they're playing into your history. And trying to create a history for someone that they've yet to know.
Aaron: I'm curious, Costa obviously played really well. Sean Bryant, three touchdown catches, sensational. Special teams won you that game though I feel like. I mean the plays you guys made on special teams were huge. Take us through those.
Malik: Yeah, I think, lets start with the extra points. We go for two point conversions on our first two touchdowns. We don't get them. So now going for two points again, now we're just chasing points. And the last time we lined up for an extra point it got blocked returned for two points. And so, kudos to Simon for getting it off fast, high on two different occasions.
Malik: The second extra point which was even more critical because now if he missed it, or if they block and go for two, it's a three point game. There's a lot of implications on his last kick. So, kudos to him on special teams. He did a great job on kickoff with his kickoff placement. Their returner was leading the league in return yards.
Malik: You talk about going into the game hoping that their kickoff return team does not be the difference. The kickoff team was the difference to keep them bottled up. And we got a fumble on the kickoff team coming out of the half.
Malik: So when you talk about, "Okay, sense of urgency," how about Tom Formus coming out of nowhere getting the ball out. And then you see our offense wake up. You see Costa who's going for 10 yards, scampers on the ground, you see him getting the ball out to his tight end, Sean Bryant. You see Hayes with a few catches. I mean, Chris Capo with a few catches. When you think about how he was distributing the football, I was very pleased with that.
Malik: And then, the punt block team.
Aaron: Oh my goodness.
Malik:To your point in special teams, special teams, not only did they show up on kickoff, they showed up on punt block. They showed up on punt kick return, but the biggest play, they're lining up to punt the ball so we can go down and drive for the last possession. I think they're on the 35 maybe, and sure enough, Pete Daley comes through, you can see him, everyone's going nuts. "Oh we're about to block it." 15 holds it, and next thing you see is Greene come out of nowhere for the tackle.
Malik: Leading up to that point, that's the big mo if you will. Like we had momentum, and we made a punt, we didn't give up a touchdown in the second half. All of that is true. But when you talk about the big mo that slid the skill fully over to the baseline, it was that blocked punt or the attempted punt that never got off.
Aaron: Right. And earlier in the game, they tried that fake on your guys, but you guys, seen something in film, you seemed like you knew what was coming.
Malik: Yeah. Coach G does a great job. He prepares our guys. Our guys are locked in on the fake. I remember seeing the fake, but I wasn't sure who had the ball. And so I'm on the sideline, know the fake is a possibility and can't find the ball, so, shoutout to all of those guys on that punt block team who stayed locked in, who didn't lose the sauce or the juice, and then made sure that they were where they needed to be to keep that fake from coming out. Because when you talk about the momentum swing, that's a momentum swing. And we're down 21 points at this point.
Malik: And so, that could have put us further in the jar going into half, but as you eluded to, special teams made a difference and special teams makes a subtle difference that you may not attribute to a win, but I think you hit the nail on the head, like special teams probably was the contributing factor to us getting the victory this weekend.
Aaron: And defensively, Liam Greene, obviously we talked about the big play being on the punt, but he also had three sacks. Moving him to defensive end from linebacker paid off bigtime this week it seemed like.
Malik: Yeah. I think if you interview him he'll say the same. Listen, when you're a linebacker and you get moved to defensive line, I think that's a blow to the ego. It's a blow to the ego. I think Greene and Campbell both got moved to defensive end. I think it's my hopes and my vision that they would be a athletic mismatch for offensive linemen. I think once you wrap your mind around trusting coach's decision and knowing that he's not doing it for any other reason then to better the B.
Malik: And I think once you have something good happen for you, three sacks in one game, hat trick, I think that would be a little bit of motivation to put on 20 pounds this off season.
Malik: But, again, I've been around football for a long time. Three sacks. And when you talk about three sacks, he didn't play 80 plays to get three sacks. So his law of average on what he's averaging per snap to get a sack, he probably could have had four. If you asked him he'd say five, because on two occasions I think he thought the play was going to do something different and hesitated.
Malik: But, Greene's effort, hands down has always been off the chart. And with his effort, you never want to take a guy off the field that gives that kind of effort. But you also want that effort to result in production. And I think his effort and production found a sweet spot this weekend. And it resulted in three sacks, and you can argue the fourth, because the punter was the quarterback.
Aaron: Right. Going back to the offense though, Costa, four touchdown passes, three to Sean Bryant. I've watched them on tape. He's not afraid to just throw it up in the air and let his receiver go up and get it isn't he?
Malik: Yeah, I think when you look at his progression from a year ago into today, you're seeing a little bit more of that. And I think if you see it from a progressive standpoint, what we see is trust starting to develop.
Malik: It's easy to throw it up to your brother on the outside, because you have a repition that goes beyond a whistle, a practice, but when you can do it for some people who are not your brother, like that means you're repping that brotherhood to where, "Hey, you're not my brother by blood, but we've done this a lot. We've been in a lot of battles together, we're connected now."
Malik: And I think with Sean Bryant coming on in the last few weeks as he did, I think that's the exhibit of what that connection looks like, and more importantly, who was Sean Bryant before all of that? He was a big receiver who's coming off an injury. And now everyone's like, "Who is Sean Bryant?"
Malik: So in house we always know the tools, and how sharp our tools are. It's out of house that people are kind of wowed. Like, "Wow, where has he been?" And as a coaching staff we have that moment sometimes. Like, "Man, this kid is, everything he throws to Sean, seems like it could be a big play."
Malik: And I think again, when you have a quarterback who trusts some of this targets, you'll see him put the ball in the place where the receiver is making the bigger play than the quarterback.
Aaron: I'm curious, as the head coach, looking back on the season now since it is wrapped up, 2-7, but you look at the Colby game. You look at the Amherst game. You look at the Tufts game. Is it tough to play the what if? Or is it encouraging to say, "Hey, we were a few plays away from 5-4 record.
Malik: Awe man, listen, you hurt me with that question.
Malik: I think a coach's biggest challenge, and a player's biggest challenge, is to live in the now. Coaches tend to live in the moments that they've lost. And players tend to live in the moment that they've been criticized. Well interestingly enough, if you flip it, the media criticized the coaching staff and peers will criticize peers. Players criticize players. So all being the same, we are living that same journey. It's our perspective that I think gives us the encouragement to move forward from it.
Malik: But what I think, those games you mentioned, total points of losses, 13 I think, maybe-
Aaron: Sounds close enough.
Malik: ... so if you told me 21 points was the difference from us winning five games, it's like, "Oh man. I've thought about it already."
Malik: And the fact that this game ended very similar to our Colby game with just us on the other side of column, so you're saying, "Oh man, I could have been three." And then you're saying, "Man, what about the pass interference. Or what about the Tufts game? What about the fumble at the Amherst game?"
Malik: I think that is what a finale does for you. Finales give you an opportunity to reflect. Gives you a opportunity to exhale. I would imagine our players by the end of the night had to come to terms with, "Man, we could have actually won five."
Malik: So, I think that's the reality. I think the reality of that is that expectation also has changed. It's not, "We could have won the CBB," because that is also to be true.
Malik: Instead, the conversation's, "We could have won five." And I think that is the ultimate idea. Is, how could you have maximized your opportunity and to maximize it did not just leave it at the CBB, but we talked about five potential games in the NESCAC that we could have won.
Malik: I don't know the last time we've won five games here. I think Coach Harriman won five games early in his career. And I think if we can have that expectation now, then we can have the work of that expectation this winter.
Aaron: Great, well before I let you go here, thoughts on the season you wanted to share.
Malik: Listen. I just want to say to the Bobcat posse and the family that it was a Dow Jones year of up and down, but I think if you take a step back you'll see our growth, but you'll also see that we're a young team that we're looking to make some gains. And to all of the parents, and to all of the administration and family and friends who support our program, we don't go without you. And so we need you to continue to go forward.
Malik: And so as every fan who showed up to Garcelon Field, to every fan who traveled and started a tailgate, or opened a tailgate, we say, "thank you." We say, "Today is a great day to be a Bobcat, just as tomorrow will be. And we look forward to your support in the future." Go Cats.
Aaron: Sophomore Sean Bryant caught five passes for 93 yards and three touchdowns, all-career highs. Bryant finishes the season with 300 receiving yards and four touchdowns, tops on the team. And he is our Male Bobcat of the Week!
Sean: Well, it was a super fun game to be a part of. I mean it was obviously a great win for our program getting a second win in a row, and it's definitely a good way to set up the offseason going into next year.
Aaron: The touchdown pass to win it, Costa threw that one I think across his body up and you were there, what did you see on that play?
Sean: So that's a read route. I'm supposed to run up the seam and I originally ran right up the seam, but then I saw that the safeties had moved over, so I crossed the field and me and Costa were on the same page on that, so we connected on that which was nice.
Aaron: People who may not know, you're a sophomore, but you're 22. You're almost 22 years old, so take us through you high school progression, post grad years, stuff like that.
Sean: So I did four years at Falmouth High School. I played two with my brother who's at Bates with me now. And then I decided to do a post grad year at Holderness. Then I had an injury that sent me back, so I had to leave school, and then get healthy again so that I could reapply to the school. And then I ended up at Bates.
Sean: That was my goal the whole way.
Aaron: Yeah, certainly. When you first started looking at it, I know your brother's here as well, when did that process begin looking at Bates?
Sean: That started my senior year at Falmouth. I was really close with Coach Capone, and I really wanted to be at Bates. I loved Coach Harriman. And I just really wanted to be at this school the whole way. And once I had my injury I was deciding if I wanted to play football again or not, and then once I decided to, I was really fully committed just to try to get into Bates.
Sean: I love the school and the football program.
Aaron: Excellent. Going back to your days at Falmouth High School, your brother is a quarterback. You were a senior when he was a sophomore. And he was starting quarterback that year as a sophomore, what was it like catching passes from your brother?
Sean: It was awesome. I mean we've played football and sports with each other our whole lives, so it was just great to be on the field with each other. So it was just cool to go through that experience with each other. And our dad actually coached us a little bit too, because he's had a background playing quarterback, so he always coached quarterbacks at Falmouth, and he helped Jack out. So it was really cool to be a part of that with all three of them.
Aaron: Yeah, you touched on injuries, you were injured earlier in the year and you were able to battle back again. What's the mentality take, what's it take to battle back from these injuries you've gone through.
Sean: A lot of resilience. I love football. I'd never really do anything to get rid of it, I just feel like I need to keep at it.
Aaron: What's it like these last three games all of a sudden you're leading receiver on the team, I mean, I don't want to say it came out of nowhere because you're doing a lot of work behind the scenes, but what's it been like to have the work behind the scenes translate into stats?
Sean: It's a nice to be a part of that. I mean obviously we've had a lot of injuries for offense. We're missing a lot of key guys, so everyone has to step up to sort of fill that gap.
Aaron: Going back two weeks ago to Bowdoin and the night game under the lights, that was a pretty cool experience.
Sean: Yeah that was very fun. It was cool. It reminded me of Friday night lights back at Falmouth which was fun. It was definitely good to get the first win too. It was awesome for the program and just for everyone to set up really, building on that in the offseason like I said earlier.
Aaron: We touched on the comeback. I mean you're down 21-0 that game, what's going through your mind?
Sean: Well, we'd actually seen that two prior against Colby which that was really helpful. I mean we saw at halftime we were just realizing that we weren't really playing our game. I mean we didn't really show up at the beginning of the game and we realized that we just needed to buckle down, get all our signs down, and just do what we needed to do and come back and just not lose hope and just keep believing.
Aaron: Must have been pretty cool to see the Special Teams make all those plays right?
Sean: Oh I know. We go through that all week. We work so hard on Special Teams. Our Special Teams coordinator is just really, really persistent with it and he knows what he's doing. So it was good to see that pay off.
Aaron: Your second touchdown, near pylon toe tapper, I mean take us through that, that's a tricky catch.
Sean: Yeah. That was tough. It was a good ball by Costa. He said he was actually trying to throw it away, I just tried to keep the play alive. Yeah it was just a corner route, so I just tried to keep it alive and make a play after. Because we actually had another good Special Teams play right before that when Tom Formus stripped the guy. That was a good play.
Aaron: Certainly. Have you always been a wide receiver? When did you start playing football?
Sean: I started playing in fifth grade. I was a running back. But actually we did halfback passes, so I did some of those. And then sort of, I grew really late, I was 5'2" as a freshman, so that's another reason why I decided to do the post grad year.
Sean: And I was only like 100 pounds. So I decided, once I realized and started growing over a foot in high school, and I decided that I wanted to just do a post grad year to get another year to get ready for college. And so that's sort of when I started playing receiver is when I started to grow more.
Aaron: So as a ninth grader you 5'2", were you playing varsity or?
Sean: No, I was on JV. We had a pretty good JV team, but I was on JV. Played JV as a sophomore too and then junior year started getting a little varsity time, and then senior year I had a pretty good year.
Aaron: So senior year you started thinking, well you mentioned you wanted to go to Bates, senior year was that first time you were like, "Oh I could play college?"
Sean: Yeah, I got in touch with Bates then and a couple other DIII schools and that's sort of when I, Bates was my top school obviously the whole way through, and that's sort of where I started that process.
Aaron: And so Jack is two years younger than you.
Aaron: And so did he kind of just follow your lead in terms of coming to Bates? Or what was his process?
Sean: That was actually funny. He committed before I did.
Sean: So I was at Holderness. I went ED2, he went ED1.
Sean: And so that's just sort of how that worked out which was funny. But he was looking at a couple other NESCAC schools and Bates just ended up being his top pick.
Sean: It was cool once we realized, he was like, "You've got to get into Bates, we've got to figure this out, " once he was committed.
Aaron: Excellent. And obviously you've gone through a coaching change here with Malik Hall coming in. Head coach starting last year. What's his leadership been like. I mean obviously we've talked about his enthusiasm, how he brings the juice.
Sean: Oh absolutely. It's been awesome. I mean once I got the email I was obviously, I was surprised, coming in as a freshman, but once I heard him and I met him, I loved his changes and everything that he's willing to bring to the program. And he really just wants to win and just make a difference in the program which was great to see.
Aaron: And that moment against Bowdoin where you dumped the water on him.
Sean: That was cool. That was an awesome moment for all of us, because the year before Bowdoin had stormed the field on us at their home field, so we wanted to get a win back on them which was nice to see.
Aaron: Nice, so, going into the off-season, what are some goals in your mind, working, the team obviously doesn't have practices or anything because of NESCAC rules, so what are some goals in your mind working on your own or with your brother or whatnot and trying to come back even better next year?
Sean: Well I think all of us it's just getting closer and closer in the off-season and a few of us hung out in the summer and just trying to build chemistry. I think that's one of the biggest things with football is just building chemistry and being close to the guys and just everyone improving individually so as a team standpoint we can be stronger and just better for the, ready for the season.
Sean: And I also know that we have ... we're losing a lot of seniors that have really played a good important role, but I think a lot of the teams in the NESCAC are losing more, so it'll be good. So we have a good strong group coming back.
Aaron: Yeah, 8 is kind of a small senior class, and so, you, Jackson Hayes, Mohamed Diawara, Parker Smith, all the receiving core is coming back it seems like.
Sean: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah, it's good to see that.
Aaron: What's it like chemistry wise those guys?
Sean: They're all great guys. I mean we've gotten a lot closer as the season's gone on and I think we should just build that into the season. It will be good to have another offseason with those guys.
Aaron: Alright, Sean Bryant, Male Bobcat of the Week, thanks so much.
Sean: Thank you for having me.
Aaron: The Bates defense and special teams helped make the comeback possible on Saturday. Junior Liam Greene had three sacks and he teamed up with fifth-year senior Peter Daley to make the key play late on Hamilton’s failed punt.
Aaron: What a Saturday it was for the Bates football team. We've got fifth year senior Pete Daley and junior Liam Greene with us here on the Bobcast. And Pete, first of all, I want to ask you about being a fifth year senior, you've been around, you've been in the program, what's that experience been like bringing that extra wisdom to this class?
Peter: Yeah, it's been fun. Definitely getting an extra year, another opportunity just being around the guys and just being in the program for so long even not playing my sophomore year, I still worked out with the team, winter my sophomore year, so I was still around the guys all the time.
Peter: Just being around that culture, just being able to learn every single year, being able to learn from the coaches, it's been huge and it's helped me really develop as a player and then also help kids underneath me, especially like Tony Hooks, Brian Carmichael, like those two inside linebackers. It's been fun helping them along the way and they've grown a lot throughout the season. Tony's had like 60 tackles on our team or something like that, even more. It's definitely promising, it's a good thing, it makes you feel good.
Aaron: Excellent. So the game against Hamilton, we'll start with the biggest play late in the game at least. The aborted punt as I called it I guess in the fourth quarter, either one of you, I mean Liam, you had the tackle, but Pete kind of made that play happen to begin with right?
Liam: Yeah. I mean Pete set me up very nicely. He had a really great move off the line, got free, blew right through the shield. And we're taught by, Coach McLaughlin is our Special Teams Coordinator, he's a fantastic coach, he's very detail oriented, give him all the credit for how much effort our team has put in on special teams and how we've grown throughout the season in that area. But I think that on that play Pete was just, technique wise, he was on point and the punter panicked, and I was there to clean it up.
Aaron: And Pete, what'd you see on that play rushing the punter?
Peter: Yeah. Coach G, we have a block of the week, and Coach G was like, "All right, like engage it. We're going to run the block of the week." And I was like, "Coach, honestly, let me just run straight ahead, I can beat the guy." He was like, "All right."
Peter: So like I said, like Greene said, Coach G's the best, man. He works harder than anyone I've ever met in my life. I mean swear to God, 5:00 AM to 11:00 PM guy. It's nuts. And yeah, I just used the technique that he's taught me over and over and over again, made the play, and Greene, he brings it every play, and he came flying off the edge and I was just lucky I had him right there to clean it up.
Aaron: So you guys were down 21-0 in this game.
Aaron: It's the biggest comeback for the team in 50 years. Liam, what was the mentality on the sideline down 21-0. You've had games where you've come back before like the Colby game came just short, what was going through people's minds, in your mind maybe, when you're down by three scores in the first half?
Liam: So every day, we come to work, practice and games. So we're just taught, Coach Hall stresses that we're playing the game, we're not looking at the scoreboard. And I think that that speaks more to just play every play as do your job. Get your job done. Do what you need to do. Do your 1/11th and let the chips fall where they may. Because if we play Bobcat football the way we know we can, we're going to like our outcome.
Aaron: What are your thoughts early on that game?
Peter: For me it was like don't panic. Still 0-0, but we've got to have a sense of urgency to us. Like before, in the Colby game, we scored, I mean we had the ball with what, two to three minutes left in the half, and I had all the confidence in the world in the offense they were going to march down the field and score a touchdown. We're going to go in the half with some momentum. And for me, it was just never, this team never has any quit in them. So, it was never really a worry.
Aaron: And what happened at the end of the half was Hamilton decided to fake a punt at midfield, but you guys were ready for it. What did you guys see on that play?
Liam: We were just coached again all week. Our preparation I think is just what's grown in our program and we prepare, we feel like we prepare the best, and that's what we strive to do. So we were ready for it. We were communicating on the field. And as I was on the line, we knew the formation, and we saw something funky, so we were somewhat ready for it. But we always trust our practice, especially in moments like those in the game, crucial times.
Aaron: Yeah, Pete I saw you just authoritatively toss the ball to the referee like, "Not on our watch."
Peter: Yeah. I was pretty juiced up for that play. But yeah, Coach G, we knew that play was in their arsenal. Coach G stressed it all week. It was senior week for them. They might want to go into their bag of tricks, and they did on fourth and 10, don't ask me why.
Peter: I actually hit the kid, and I was really surprised he bounced off me, and then the posse cleaned it up for me, so it was awesome, 11 guys to the ball, but it was a fun play. I'm actually pretty lucky I didn't get a flag for throwing the ball that hard at the ref.
Aaron: And then, to open the third quarter, I mean the kickoff and Thomas Formus forcing that fumble. I'm watching the tape and he just comes from far away, like he caught that guy from behind. What did you see on that play on special teams?
Liam: Oh, well I was actually on the field, 26, credit to him on Hamilton. I mean he was a great guy, senior guy, left it all on the field. He was really shifty. So he brought that ball out, made a couple guys, myself included, miss. And I was in pursuit and I see Tom come out of nowhere, and like we're told, like we're coached, he laid out, he took a shot, and he swiped his arm down on the ball Tomahawk on the ball, and that's what we're taught when we're trailing, so Tom made the play that he needed to make, and he was ready for it.
Liam: He recovered it with the other hand. I mean it was the whole deal. It was a stud play and we needed it to happen. It really juiced us up. We needed that to start the second half.
Aaron: And how nice was it to see the offense go out and immediately take advantage of that right?
Peter: Oh yeah, that was awesome. When I saw the play happen, there was a huge momentum swing. You could tell on the sideline, everyone was juiced up. And I just definitely, we were at what, the 25? I knew the offense was going to punch in another score. It was a good feeling.
Aaron: Liam, you had three sacks. That's not easy to do.
Liam: You know, I think it's just the other guys on the D line that are setting up my rushes. I mean we were working hard all week and preparing in our game plan, but I'm not a big guy, so I got switched positionally wise from outside linebacker to D line because Coach Hall wanted to see more speed on the field, so we wanted to work on our defense and really see what we could do there.
Liam: So, I'm playing a position that I haven't played before. So it's nice to kind of get a feel for it in this game and really be able to unlock some of the different moves or plays that I maybe wasn't able to make the week prior against Bowdoin or Colby. But it was a lot of fun. I got to maybe work on some moves that I worked on in practice. You know working out some of the guys that I play with on D-line, Ramon Ruiz, Jack O'Brien, Nolan Potter. I mean these guys were working all day long and we were getting after them, so it felt really good to see some of the hard work pay off, and make some plays for our defense.
Aaron: So how good did that feel knowing you have one more year where you can come out and play at the position for the full season?
Liam: I mean it's exciting. I'm excited to see what our team's going to bring. I mean our program has grown leaps and bounds on the field and off the field. I think mentally is our biggest point. We trust ourselves and each other like no team I've been around. And I think that really proves to the point where you can come back from 21-0 at some point in the game and you don't look at the scoreboard and you look the guys around you, and you know what you have to do. And you know who's around you. You know the work that you've put in.
Liam: So it feels good to kind of see that through and persevere through the adversity and there's light at the end of the tunnel, so it's nice to bring that one home for Bates.
Aaron: Yeah. Well two straight wins to your collegiate career here. What does that mean to you?
Peter: Yeah it's definitely huge. Definitely lost a couple close ones earlier in the year. There was definitely a feel the whole season that this team kept working, kept working. I mean these guys brought their stuff every single day. It's a huge credit to the team. A huge credit to Coach Hall and all the coaches. Win or lose, we're coming out the next day, clean slate, everything is clear, we're just going to practice ... the standard is high energy all the time. High juice all the time. Practice well all the time.
Peter: And I think that's carried throughout the entire season and showed in the last two games, that we're going to keep building, keep getting better, and it's definitely going to translate into the offseason for these guys. Definitely going to translate in the next season for these guys, because these guys now know what it takes to win. Now know what they have to do to get it done. And now that they know what the standard is, I really think there's no stopping this team, which is really good feeling going out, because I know this group of seniors has left a pretty good mark on the team.
Aaron: Good way to end it. Pete Daley. Liam Greene. Thanks so much.
Peter: Thank you.
Liam: Thank you.
Aaron: The Bates volleyball team fell to Wesleyan in the NESCAC quarterfinals on Friday, finishing the season with a record of 16-10. The Bobcats' best record since 2009.
Aaron: Bates has increased its win total each of its past five years, and over the last four years, senior Taylor Stafford-Smith has been a key contributor as an outside hitter. She had seven kills and six digs on Friday, and due to her strong performance, she is our Female Bobcat of the Week.
Aaron: We will catch up with Stafford-Smith next week, as part of our fall sports season recap on the Bobcast.
Aaron: The women's basketball team gets it's season underway Friday night at the Rose City Tip-Off Classic at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. Then the Bobcats open at home a week from Wednesday against Husson at 6:00 PM.
Aaron: The young Bobcats are coming off a 12-12 season last year and fifth year head coach Alison Montgomery joins the Bobcast to preview the season.
Alison: Last year we were very young in terms of having a ton of freshmen, seven of them, actually, and a lot of them playing a lot of game minutes. So, very young and we will be again, because they are now just sophomores, so again seven of them who will all be a significant part of our ... they'll all contribute a lot. And then we have one senior and two juniors and three freshmen.
Alison: So, still young, but we are hoping and feeling good about just the experience that our young players were able to get last year. So, feeling a little more veteran than maybe our roster balance shows.
Aaron: Last year the team it seemed like when they were home at Alumni, they were competing with everybody. They were beating people. Their only losses were to top ranked teams.
Aaron: On the road it was a different story. What were your thoughts on that in terms of the kind of Jekyll and Hyde nature of that?
Alison: Oh I know. Right. I've done a lot of thinking and wondering about that. I mean I think one of the biggest contributors was what we just spoke about, being young, being immature, kind of needing to find that same focus when our routine was a bit different and maybe we didn't have the same sort of support behind you and that sort of thing.
Alison: So I attribute that mostly to our youth. And just in general, a little bit of inconsistency. So obviously been a really big focus for us as we think about our values and how they want to approach this season. Something that obviously our team is really well aware of and something that we're really hoping to really improve on.
Aaron: Two captains this year, senior Mel Binkhorst and then junior Julia Middlebrook. Obviously both have been contributors throughout their time here at Bates. And Mel, she's a guard, but she gets so many rebounds, and Julia has got the knack for the clutch shot doesn't she?
Alison: Yeah. She does. Yeah, they're both great. They both lead us in kind of different ways. So we're really excited about they have really complimentary leadership styles. Mel being our only senior, just even though it's early, and we've only had a brief stretch of practice, she's just really playing like a senior with that urgency, and she's really performing well, and I think we'll really have a great year for us.
Alison: And, same with Julia. We were just talking about inconsistency and some of the challenges we've had with that as a team, and she just is really consistent with her presence and the way she shows up every day. Her commitment. How determined she is. And she has been, she's played a very consistent role for us performing in games as well, and knock on wood, hopefully continue have that knack for clutch shots.
Aaron: And the other upper classmen in Taylor McVeigh, junior, pretty solid rebounder-
Aaron: ... what do you see from her taking the next step this year as you she continues her Bates women's basketball career?
Alison: Yeah well exciting for her is she can kind of be a leader of an actual post group now. We haven't really had that yet. So we have a nice contingent of post, so she has some post teammates and we're really looking to her to be the leader there in terms of bringing our first years up to speed with just defending in the post. And she's had a ton of game experience. So, we'll really rely on her for that. We're looking for her to be even more of an offensive threat this year.
Alison: She's improved with that each year. And we're just hoping that she can continue to grow in that way and stay aggressive looking for offense.
Aaron: And then we go into the sophomore class, the big sophomore class, starting with Meghan Graff who last year as a first-year had a lot of responsibility on her shoulders running that offense, playing a lot of minutes. What do you see from her throughout the season because she was obviously on the court for as many minutes as you could get her, right?
Alison: Yeah. Absolutely. And I think the nice thing is she has some nice ... the pressure kind of isn't all on her in terms of running our point. We have some nice options who she can kind of share that load with. But she does have a great knack for, just a good basketball IQ, and running the show out there. She knows what she's doing. So, we'll definitely rely on that for sure, and she had some great experience with that this past season, so we're looking for more of that from her for sure.
Aaron: And Ariana Dalia an interesting player. When she was in the game knocking down shots, grabbing rebounds, foul trouble was an issue for her last year. How do you try to avoid that this year?
Alison: I know. That's a funny one. Hopefully just by being better and also by adjusting to the college game. She kind of got thrown in there as a freshman and played a ton of minutes and kind of had to play through a lot of those. Just those learning curves I think. So, I think with all the experience she got last year, that's obviously a focus for her. It's kind of one of those funny things like we don't want her so preoccupied with that, because we want her playing aggressively. We don't want her kind of overthinking those things, but we want her to be more disciplined.
Alison: I mean she's a really physical, aggressive player on both ends, and we don't want her to shy away from that, we just want her to play smart enough so that she's not kind of picking up silly fouls like swatting down on the ball or reaching or things like that. Because she's going to pick some up from playing a lot of minutes and from being aggressive, so certainly something that we've talked about, that we work on. We're trying to hold her more accountable in her practice. But, essentially we want her to just play, not to think too much about it.
Aaron: Mia Roy played a fair amount last year as well. And then Grace Hoehl it seemed like you started to trust her more and more as the season went along.
Alison: Yeah. She is such a consistent player. Last year it was interesting, we kind of had her flip flopping between two positions. And I feel like we were always kind of struggling with her identity in terms of is she a guard? Is she kind of like a backup for Ari?
Alison: So, we've gotten her, with some more posts on our team this year, we feel like she's kind of playing her more natural position at the three, which is exciting. Really looking for her to be a contributor and she's brought a lot in practice so far.
Aaron: Certainly. And then Amaari Williams, hoping to have her back in the next calendar year.
Alison: Yes, exactly. So she's still recovering from that ACL tear, working so hard to get healthy. And yeah, we're hoping to have her back sometime this winter.
Aaron: And this first-year class, you keep touching on the posts you have now. The six footer, Brianna Gadaleta, and then the 6'1" Jenna Berens. How did they end up coming to Bates? One from New York, one here from Connecticut?
Alison: Yeah we recruited them hard Aaron. I think just really feeling like that was one of the missing dynamics on our roster. Just needing a little bit more size on both ends. And that was really just falling on Taylor's shoulders to sort of be that one post presence that we had, so it's really nice. They're both pretty versatile. Both can face up and shoot. Just a lot of length defensively. So they're already making us so much better in practice, and that when our guards get deep from creating, the posts are letting them know that they're there. So, that's great, because we haven't really had that sort of challenge in practice. So they brought a lot in that way and also just giving us more options to feed the post, to create more opportunities for our guards also by having some more scoring post options is really exciting.
Aaron: Does their presence change the offense in any way or is it going to be a similar looking offense as last year?
Alison: It's different.
Alison: We'll have a couple similar kind of quick hitters, but we put in a motion this year that's different that we feel like will really highlight our versatility and will include a little bit more of the opportunity to score in the post. So it will be different.
Aaron: And then the other first-year is Kayla Bridgeman, a guard, she's got a lot of players to compete with for playing time.
Alison: Yeah, but she is competing so tough in practice. She's a very, very good defender. So that's another thing, just like I was talking about with Jenna and Bri giving us a different look in practice, and really challenging our returners. Same thing with Kayla. She's a great on ball defender, so really challenging our point guards. And she's versatile as well. She can play some point, and she can just also play the guard position.
Alison: She brings a lot and she's got a great motor. Always working hard. We're really excited about her as well.
Aaron: And then the NESCAC in general, how's it shaping up? I mean we know about Amherst and Bowdoin and Tufts, what they bring to the table, how much depth is there this year in the conference?
Alison: Yeah. It's always deep. But we're excited about that. This is where we want to be. I think the thing about just continuing to build the program and get better and better each year, is you're always up against that pressure, that everybody else is doing the same thing and so we're hoping to just continue to close that gap and compete with everybody, which I think we took a really, really nice leap with that last year. But as you said, particularly when we were in Alumni Gym, but we hope to do that very consistently.
Alison: Every team, top to bottom, I say that, but it's like bottom is, every team is just so competitive and every night out is a real challenge so, we're hoping to just continue to climb up that ladder.
Aaron: All right. Women's basketball team opening this weekend in the Rose City Tip-off Classic down in New Jersey. And then home opener, Wednesday the 20th against Husson. Alison Montgomery, thanks so much.
Alison: Thanks Aaron.
Aaron: The squash teams visit Bowdoin on Friday and host Vassar at 3:00 PM on Saturday to being their seasons.
Aaron: Senior captains Luca Polgar and Graham Bonnell join the Bobcast to talk about their new head coach, their careers at Bates, and more.
Aaron: Luca, we'll start with you. As the women's captain, as a senior, can you believe it's already senior year for you?
Luca: Not really. It's kind of crazy. It feels like it's only been a couple of days since we arrived on campus, and it's been more than three years now. It's been a great three years and I feel like I have great hopes for this season. And I'm really excited.
Aaron: And then Graham, how about you? Has time flown by for you also?
Graham: Yeah. Absolutely, Aaron. I mean it really feels like, as Luca said, we were just starting our first years here at Bates. But, I couldn't be more excited about the potential that this team has and how our season is looking.
Aaron: And so obviously as people know, Pat Cosquer, got a job there at Hobart, and so now we got a new coach coming in, Reinhold Hergeth, you haven't gotten to work with him yet, but what do you know about him coming from Trinity?
Graham: Yeah, so Rei was a great player at Trinity. He actually played number one for the Bantams and as you may or may not know, Trinity is a powerhouse in squash and has won close to 20 national titles. And it's really great to eventually have somebody on campus who brings that sort of winning culture. That's something Bates has strived for over the years with Pat, but it's something that we can improve on and we can't wait til Rei can really assist us in that endeavor.
Aaron: Luca, as a captain, what's it been like sort of through this transition, working with some of the younger players to keep them focused?
Luca: Through preseason we don't have coaching, so that went pretty normally for us. Right now we've started practicing with Coach Gastonguay who's been a great help. He's the tennis coach. And now he's the interim squash coach. And as you know we have a really, really young team. We have five first-years. And they're all eager to play and I'm really, really happy to be their captain this year. I'm amazed by how much energy they have, how much they want to do this, so I'm very, very excited.
Aaron: What do you tell a first-year about what it takes to succeed at Bates in squash?
Luca: I just tell them that to work hard, use their teammates as a resource, and just put everything, put their hearts out there. And that just leads to success eventually.
Aaron: And then Graham, I know you've tried to take over some of the social media responsibilities there during this transition?
Graham: Oh, I love it. It's been a lot of fun. I mean over the years I've enjoyed helping out wherever I can when it comes to media productions for the squash team. I've made a couple videos and I've managed the team's YouTube channel where we have all of matches and film that we get to review to get better ourselves. But, it's been really fun. I mean, I'll give credit where credit is due, Pat did a great job with the Instagram. But, it's exciting to be able to take the reigns myself and hopefully pass that on to the next generation after a year from now.
Aaron: Certainly. And the senior class on the men's side, there's some, you've got Mahmoud on there, you've got Benni and you've got Garon, so what's this group like?
Graham: Yeah, it's really incredible. Again, I'm just so excited for the season. We've got five seniors on the team who I'm really hoping that we can really act as leaders on the team and hopefully win some big matches, but we've also got some really good young talent. All three recruits, all three first-years that we have are quite talented and I really have high hopes for all of them.
Aaron: And what's your advice to them?
Graham: My advice to them would be remain as present as possible both in practice and in competition. And to try not to think too far ahead.
Aaron: Bowdoin obviously this Friday, that's a good rivalry, and I know both these teams want to continue the winning streaks you've had. What's the match against Bowdoin mean to you?
Luca: It's really exciting. It's our first match. We had the possibility to practice at their courts. They were nice enough to allow us to practice at their courts while our courts were being renovated, so hopefully that will help us a little more too. But we're always looking forward to Bowdoin. It's always a great rivalry. It's always a great match.
Aaron: And what about for you Graham?
Graham: Yeah, it'll be great to go play our friends at Bowdoin. I think the men's team is going on their 12th, 13th, maybe 14th year of winning the CBB. I could have that wrong. But it's something like that. And that's not something that we want to give away.
Graham: Both Bowdoin and Colby are definitely getting stronger, but I'm sure that we're up to the task.
Aaron: Excellent. So the squash season is kind of interesting because you have a couple matches November, maybe one or two in December also, and then you get about a month where you don't have anything, how have you learned how to handle that type of time period during the season?
Graham: Yeah, absolutely. So, I actually love that our season is split by a bit of a break. This year we're planning on coming back earlier than I've come back for the past three years that I've been at Bates, we're going to be coming back January 3, and that means we'll get more than a week of just playing squash, just training as a team. And that's really so much fun. Some of my best memories of Bates are coming back early and just playing squash with my teammates.
Graham: But the men's team and the women's team is very international. It's really great for a lot of the players to be able to go back to their homes. I'm fortunate enough to be able to go back to Connecticut basically any break, but for a lot of these student-athletes, the only times they can go back to their families is during that winter break. So it's a great opportunity for that.
Aaron: Well Luca, you're from Budapest, so have you gotten to take advantage of that?
Luca: Oh yeah, I go back for December break every year, and it's a great time to reset, to spend some time with the family, but also, I do play squash back home as soon as I go home I just get on the court too. It's just a good time to breathe, to have some break from schoolwork, focus on yourself, on your squash, and then come back completely reset.
Aaron: Squash is interesting, because we talked about this before, how it's individual, you're out there as an individual, but you're playing for the team. Graham, has the team set any goals this year? Do you individually have any goals this year?
Graham: Yeah. The team's definitely got some goals. I mean, I don't know if I want to publicize those too much, we're going to keep those under lock and key, but we definitely have the potential to have a historic season, I can say that.
Graham: As for me personally, I just want to do as much as I can to help my teammates in any way that I can, and also have fun playing my own game.
Aaron: Well one way you've helped is you've been playing number one for the last couple years. What's that experience been like for you?
Graham: Yeah, so, well my sophomore year I played one match at number one. And then last year I was playing at number one. It's really been an honor and a privilege to play that position. I really have to give credit to my other teammates who are very, very good and extremely capable, and I'm sure that they'll all be vying for the number one spot as well, and I invite that, that's great. It hopefully will push everybody to be better.
Aaron: And then Luca, how about for the women's team? Any goals that have been talked about and what not?
Luca: We do have goals for the season. We always want to be in the B flight. Throughout my three years here so far, one time we made it to the B flight, we finished I think 14th or 15th and then two times we just fell short, so we won the C flight finishing 17th. This year is definitely we want to make the B flight.
Luca: For me personally, I just want to do the best I can for the team, for myself, to have my last year be the most successful year so far for the team and for myself.
Aaron: And for those who don't know with squash, there's multiple flights at team nationals whether it be A, B, C or D and Bates is always trying to look in that B or hopefully the B flight each year right Graham?
Graham: Yeah, that's true. So the men's team we qualified for the B flight my first year here at Bates, and we were a match away from beating Princeton, which would have put us at top 12 in the nation. And this is competing among Ivy League schools, the University of Virginias, the Naval Academies of college squash, so it's really extremely competitive, but that's always the goal.
Graham: And I'd also put in that making it to the finals of NESCACs is a big goal this year. My first two years at Bates, the men's team made it to the finals of NESCACs. Last year we didn't. So that's something that I definitely want for our team to accomplish this year.
Aaron: All right. Graham Bonnell and Luca Polgar. Thanks so much for previewing the squash season.
Graham: Thank you Aaron. Really appreciate it.
Aaron: Next time on the Bates Bobcast. We'll talk about the NCAA Cross Country Regionals taking place this Saturday at Bowdoin.
Aaron: We'll also recap the volleyball, soccer and field hockey seasons.
Aaron: Plus, we'll preview swimming and diving and men's basketball. All that and more, next time on the Bates Bobcast!