Nelson is perfect in Owls’ season-opening victory

GAMBIER, Ohio — Sophomore Thomas Nelson was perfect on face-off battles Wednesday and first-year David Chintala scored five goals, including the game-winner with 35 seconds left, as the Kenyon College men’s lacrosse team opened the 2023 season with a thrilling 11-10 home win against the Yellow Jackets of Baldwin Wallace University.

Percentage-wise, Nelson tied an NCAA record by going a perfect 24-for-24 on face-offs. In terms of quantity, however, his output ranked tied for seventh in NCAA Division III history. Hudson Bearden of Southwestern University holds the single-game NCAA Division III record after going 36-for-36 in a game against University of Dallas during the 2021 season.

Nelson’s work didn’t pay off right away, though. Baldwin Wallace scored the game’s first goal and then tacked on a man-up score to take an early 2-0 lead. From there, however, his work began to pay off. He whipped up for quick wins, igniting a Kenyon 4-0 run that spanned just a little more than two minutes. In that run, Chintala netted his first collegiate goal and was followed by tallies from Evan Bongers, Jack Giuffre, and then a man-up goal from Joe Boesel.

Baldwin-Wallace opened second-quarter play with a goal, but Nelson won the ensuing face-off, ran down the field and netted an equalizer within six seconds. About three minutes later, Chintala scored again, this time off a feed from Giuffre, and Kenyon had its largest lead of the game at 6-3.

The Yellow Jackets, however, would fade away. They scored twice more to bring the score to 6-5 at the half and then went on to control the third quarter, outscoring the Owls 4-2 to take a 9-8 lead into the final 15 minutes of play.

As they did in every quarter but the third, the Yellow Jackets scored first in the fourth quarter, extending their lead to two. At the 9:05 mark, Boesel set up a Bongers’ goal and Kenyon was within one. Exactly seven minutes later, Rollins Heath assisted on Chintala’s fourth goal to tie the game at 10-10.

In the game’s final moments, Nelson won his 23rd straight face-off, creating the opportunity for Giuffre to get a shot off. His attempt was saved, though, and Baldwin Wallace went the other way. The Yellow Jackets managed two shots, but misfired on both and Kenyon picked up possession with a little more than 40 seconds remaining.

Finn Murray ran the ball up the right side of the field basically unchecked. He then found Chintala on the right wing and passed forward to him. Chintala collected the pass, cut hard to his left and made a diving shot that found the lower left corner of the Yellow Jackets’ net.

Nelson capped off the contest by winning what was probably his most important face-off. As he did all game long, he came through and gained possession for Kenoyn, which was able to burn off the final 35 seconds on the clock.

In addition to Chintala’s game-high five goals, Kenyon got three from Bongers. Boesel had one goal and three assists for a four-point game, while Giuffre and Heath ended up with two-point games.

In goal, first-year Adam Hall made eight saves for Kenyon, which logged its tenth straight season-opening win.

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