Women's Lacrosse: Continentals drift past Bobcats

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Hamilton’s Kara Pooley, right, fires a shot over the stick of Bates goalie Eliza Statile for one of her first-half goals during Saturday afternoon’s women’s lacrosse game at Garcelon Field on the campus of Bates College in Lewiston. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

LEWISTON — No. 24 Bates College entered the NCAA Division III coach’s poll for the first time this season last Monday, which in one way made the Bobcats just another opponent for Hamilton.

Playing their seventh ranked opponent in nine games, the Continentals withstood a Bates rally at the end of each half and never trailed in a 14-10 victory at Garcelon Field.

Nicole Lyons led Hamilton (4-5, 2-3 NESCAC) with three goals and three assists and goalie Hannah Burrall made 12 saves, including several big stops on free position opportunities in the final eight minutes after Bates whittled a five-goal deficit to two.

“I think we started out (the season) a little rocky, but we’ve really risen to the occasion, just  putting in work and looking forward,” said Burrall, whose team has won three of its last four. “We just put those (early losses) behind us and used them as motivation.”

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Katie Allard notched four goals to lead the Bobcats (6-4, 1-4), who had a three-game winning streak snapped.

Trailing 12-7 10 minutes into the second half, Bates bounced back on goals by Caroline Kerrigan (two goals, one assist), Allard (free position) and Sydney Howard to close within two goals with 14:13 left.

That would be the Bobcats’ last goal. After taking a timeout to regroup, the Continentalas got an insurance goal from Darby Philbrick (three goals) with 10:50 to go.

Burrall kept the Bobcats from regaining any momentum with saves on free position shots by Camille Belletete, Kerrigan and Margaret Smith. A fourth attempt by Kerrigan went wide.

Bates has converted exactly 50 percent of its free positions shots this season (38-for-76) but converted just 3 of 11 Saturday.

“We had some opportunities on free positions in the last 10 minutes,” Bates coach Brett Allen said. “I haven’t seen the shots yet on film so I don’t know if they were bad shots or great saves, but certainly they were opportunities where they stepped up and made the play.”

“We’ve been putting in a lot of work these past few weeks,” Burrall said. “We’ve really focused on winning the little battles, and the freepos are one of those things that we’ve been focusing on.”

Despite three starters sidelined by injuries, Hamilton matched Bates’ speed and aggressiveness from the start. Kara Pooley and Philbrick scored on the first two possessions of the game to put the Continentals in the driver’s seat.

“They got a lot of goals early in possessions where it didn’t seem like we were prepared for them to drive or feed to a player in the middle who wasn’t marked yet,” Allen said. “In settled situations I thought we did a pretty good job of limiting their opportunities.”

Lyons, a 4-foot-11 senior attack, found the open teammate or found the back of the net herself for four of Hamilton’s first six goals as they built a 6-3 lead with 13 minutes to go in the first half.

“Nicole is a really great stick, and she is able to hand the ball among numerous people,” Hamilton coach Patty Kloidt said. “She has really good vision and makes our offense work.”

Neither offense got much working for nearly a 10-minute span after Kerrigan scored to pull Bates within 6-4 with 11:56 to go. Allard finally ended the drought with 2:35 left, and Summer Dias beat Burrall on a free position to tie it with 2:27 to go in the half.

But Hamilton seized momentum before halftime with goals by Jackie Cuddy and Honor Gabriel within 36 seconds of each other. 

“We just weren’t prepared to defend,” Allen said. “We gave up a few late goals that maybe we weren’t mentally prepared for.”

“For us to  hang in there mentally was a huge burst and lift for our team, because we’ve seen ourselves go inward and cave a little bit in those stressful moments,” Kloidt said. “I was really proud of how they handled the stress of this game, and this game was full of momentum swings.”

“It’s a game of runs and momentum changes,” Burrall said. “We’re really just looking to keep the momentum going our way, and when it doesn’t we just focus on the next play and winning the little battles.”

Philbrick and Skyler Simson (three goals) kept the field tilted the Continentals’ way with goals in the first 3:33 of the second half to give them their largest lead to that point at 10-6. 

“We are pulling it together,” Kloidt said. “It’s taken a long time for us to get to know each other. We’ve got a lot of new faces, a lot of new people filling some big roles because we had a lot of kids exit from graduation last year, and then we had three starters out with injury.”

Hamilton’s Darby Philbrick left and Bates’ Allison Dewey battle for a loose ball during Saturday afternoon’s women’s lacrosse game at Garcelon Field on the campus of Bates College in Lewiston. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Hamilton’s Darby Philbrick left and Bates’ Allison Dewey battle for a loose ball during Saturday afternoon’s women’s lacrosse game at Garcelon Field on the campus of Bates College in Lewiston. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Hamilton’s TT Fletcher, right, uses her body to shield Bates’ Sydney Howard, left, as they vie for a loose ball during Saturday afternoon’s women’s lacrosse game at Garcelon Field on the campus of Bates College in Lewiston. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Hamilton’s TT Fletcher left and Bates’ Liv Sandford battle for a loose ball during Saturday afternoon’s women’s lacrosse game at Garcelon Field on the campus of Bates College in Lewiston. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Bates’ Camille Belletete, left and Hamilton’s Kara Pooley battle for a face-off during Saturday afternoon’s women’s lacrosse game at Garcelon Field on the campus of Bates College in Lewiston. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

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