Field hockey falls 3-1 at Williams in NESCAC quarterfinals

Grace Fitzgerald's goal gave Bates the lead until 21 minutes remained, in the Bobcats' 3-1 loss at Williams in the NESCAC quarterfinals on Nov. 2, 2019. (File photo by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- The No. 17 nationally ranked Bates field hockey team held a 1-0 lead until 21 minutes remained, but No. 7 Williams scored three unanswered goals to score a 3-1 comeback victory in the NESCAC Championship quarterfinals on Saturday.

The fifth-seeded Bobcats (10-6) will hold out hope for an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament, while the host and fourth-seeded Ephs (13-3) advance to the semifinal round next weekend.

In the first quarter, the Bobcats gained possession quickly, notching a penalty corner in the first minute. Sophomore Ashton Bayle (Wayne, Pa.) took the corner and passed to first-year Paige Cote (Auburn, Maine), who shot at the goal, but was blocked by an Eph defender (1:07).

After strong back and forth play in the midfield, Bates notched another penalty corner at 10:11. Senior Alexa Jurgeleit (Barrington, R.I.) took the corner, and after the pass was sent out senior Grace Fitzgerald (Larchmont, N.Y.) took a shot but was kept away by the Eph defense (10:18).

The Bobcats gained one more penalty corner in the half, and the pass came from Fitzgerald this time. Fitzgerald hit Cote at the top of the circle and repositioned herself near the net, taking a pass back from Cote and sliding the ball past Eph Keeper Abby Lloyd to put the Bobcats up 1-0 with 1:19 remaining in the opening quarter.

The defenses carried play through the second quarter. The Ephs broke through with a penalty corner at 22:01, but the shot from Elizabeth Welch was blocked. Welch's shot was the only one of the quarter, and the score remained 1-0 for the Bobcats heading into halftime.

The Eph offense came out firing in the third quarter, notching a penalty corner at 32:22. Emily Batchelor's pass found Simone Veale at the top of the circle, but her shot was blocked by the Bobcat defense.

The Ephs had another opportunity with back-to-back penalty corners at 35:07 and 35:35, and the pass in from Batchelor turned into a scramble in the middle of the circle. Emma Ticknor came up with the ball and shot the ball just wide of the net. The Ephs kept the offensive pressure on and notched another corner at 36:02, and Veale made a hard shot from the top of the box that was knocked aside by first-year Bobcat keeper Grace Biddle (State College, Pa.). The Ephs earned another corner immediately and another shot from Ticknor that was pushed out by Biddle.

The Ephs converted on one more corner at 38:19. Batchelor passed the ball out to Ticknor at the top of the circle, and Ticknor moved the ball in closer to the net before making a pass back to Batchelor, who sent the ball past Biddle to even the score at 1-1.

The Ephs looked to extend their lead with a shot by Ticknor, but a nice save by keeper Biddle kept the Ephs at bay in the 43rd minute.

The Ephs earned another corner in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. After the initial pass in, Batchelor found herself with possession and shot the ball just wide of the net past a diving Biddle. But Veale forced her way into the circle and found teammate Catherine Torres, who sent a hard shot into the back of the net to put the Ephs up 2-1.

In their final penalty corner of the game, the Ephs fired two consecutive shots by Welch and Batchelor before Veale collected the rebound and sent the ball past the stick of Biddle to ice the win for Williams.

Biddle finished with five saves, while Williams keeper Lloyd made no saves as the Bobcats connected on their only shot on goal in the game. Williams outshot Bates 13-4 and had an 11-5 advantage in penalty corners.

Fitzgerald's goal gave her 13 points on the season, tying with junior Emily Gianunzio (Darien, Conn.) for the team lead. Cote's assist tied her with Fitzgerald for the team lead in that category, with five.