LEWISTON, Maine -- No. 18 nationally ranked Wesleyan University pulled away from a 6-6 tie with 11 minutes remaining to defeat the Bates women's lacrosse team 9-7 in a NESCAC game played Saturday at Garcelon Field.
Wesleyan (3-0, 2-0) received three goals from Julia Gretsky, including two in the final 11 minutes. Abby Manning contributed two goals and an assist and Abigail Horst added two goals, two caused turnovers and four ground balls.
Nine of the game's 16 goals were scored on free-position opportunities, with both teams' defenses effectively limiting the opposition's scoring opportunities.
Caitlin Wood got Wesleyan on the board first with 26:01 to go, tucking a free-position shot from the left wing low and inside the far post.
Bates sophomore Avery MacMullen drew a foul whistled against Wesleyan goalie Allegra Grant at the 24:13 mark, allowing MacMullen a rare open-net free-position attempt, which she duly converted to tie the game at 1-1.
Bates kept it tied when goalie Eliza Statile stopped a Wood free-position shot, then saved a follow by Manning around the 18:00 mark.
Statile intercepted a Wesleyan pass to set up a go-ahead goal by Duke, who took advantage of a 1-on-1 with a dodge and a shot from the left wing, giving Bates its first lead at 2-1, interrupting a scoreless stretch of 18 minutes.
Statile and Grant traded saves before Duke scored with Bates in transition, as Camille Belletete found her in an open spot in the middle of Wesleyan's defensive zone, where she dodged and shot again for a 3-1 Bates lead.
Wesleyan responded with two goals in the final 40 seconds of the half, to tie the game at 3-3 at intermission. Manning scored with 39.4 seconds to go in the period, finishing a left-to-right sweep through the Bates defense by setting up an open right-handed shot. With 11 seconds to go, Horst drew a Bates foul and converted the 8-meter shot for the tie.
Bates retook the lead with the first goal of the second half, a free-position score by Liv Sandford, as Grant stopped the shot initially before the ball dribbled over the line.
Gretsky tied the game again at 4-4, finishing a strong wrap-around move and earning shooting space in front. Horst won the ensuing draw and was soon fouled, giving her a free-position shot that put Wesleyan ahead 5-4.
The Cardinals got their first two-goal lead of the game with 20:18 remaining, with Manning feeding Julia Black with the only assist in the game, prompting a Bates timeout.
But Bates fought back to tie the game at 6-6 with back-to-back free-position goals by Duke and Otley. Duke's third goal of the game, delivered with an overhead shot into the top of the net, was set up by an Allard caused turnover.
But Wesleyan then mounted its second three-goal run of the game to seize control of the game in the final 11 minutes.
Amy Breitfeller caused a Bates turnover that led to Gretsky's first free-position goal, which put Wesleyan ahead for good at 7-6 with 10:46 left. Forty-four seconds later, after Wesleyan's Indigo Pellegrini de Paur won the draw, Manning finished off a 1-on-1 move from off the left post to make it 8-6. Gretsky then tallied her third goal with 7:52 left in the, backing down her defender, faking left and pivoting to her right to free up an open shot.
Grant came up with four saves over the final 7:17 of regulation time, including on free-position shots by Sydney Howard and Allison Dewey. Otley scored her second free-position goal on three attempts with 43.5 seconds left in the game, but Wesleyan's Breanna Cavanaugh won the ensuing draw and Wesleyan ran out the rest of the game clock.
Statile and Grant came up with 10 saves apiece.
Bates won 11 of 18 draws but Wesleyan won 18 of 29 ground balls in the game.
Bates next plays a non-conference game at St. Joseph's College of Maine Tuesday at 6pm.