Liv Sandford, right, of Bates College, battles Amherst College’s Rebecca Wistreich for a loose ball during Saturday’s lacrosse game at Garcelon Field in Lewiston. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
LEWISTON — After allowing a five-goal flurry early in Saturday’s NESCAC women’s lacrosse game against No. 4 Amherst, Bates virtually shut down the Mammoths for the final 50 minutes at Garcelon Field.
Unfortunately for the Bobcats, the Mammoths were even more impenetrable in their own end and never let their hosts up off the mat.
Amherst held Bates scoreless for the first 27 minutes of the game and delivered a blow to the Bobcats’ conference tournament hopes with a 7-3 victory.
Avery MacMullen, Teal Otley and Allison Dewey scored for Bates (7-7 overall, 2-7 NESCAC). Junior goalie Eliza Statile was outstanding between the pipes, turning aside 11 of the 18 shots she faced.
Hannah Gustafson and Katherine Malone scored two goals apiece while Talia Land made seven saves in net for the Mammoths (13-1, 8-1).
Amherst outshot Bates, 24-17, overall, but also had most of the quality scoring chances. Many of the Bobcats’ shots came from the perimeter against the Mammoths’ backer defense.
“I just thought our slides were there and we were pressuring really well, so sometimes we were just playing good one-on-one defense and they would drop the ball,” said Land, a sophomore. “I think getting into it really quickly and just rattling them a little bit was really helpful.”
Amherst rattled Bates early with three goals in a 53-second span. Gustafson got it started on the power play 2:32 into the game. She won the ensuing draw, which led to Malone’s first goal 38 seconds later.
Maia Noyes controlled the next face-off for the Mammoths and eventually drew a foul from Bates Joanna Schafer, setting up her free position goal that made it 3-0 3:25 into the game.
“We struggled in the first five minutes today just communicating and identifying what they were doing offensively,” Bates coach Brett Allen said. “After that first five minutes, it was pretty much an even game.”
A goal by Mary Grace Cronin and Malone’s second tally put the Mammoths in firm control at 5-0 with 21:32 left in the half.
“I think our defense played well all the way through, but it obviously helps when we get a little bit of a cushion,” Land said.
The Bobcats stemmed the tide for the next 20 minutes, thanks in part to five saves by Statile. But they couldn’t cut into the deficit until Otley notched a free position goal with 2:59 remaining in the half.
Land stopped another free position attempt by Otley 44 seconds later. Julia Crerend, Amherst’s leading scorer, staked her team to another five-goal lead 1:15 before intermission.
Content with the margin, Amherst slowed things down in the second half and neither team tickled the twine for over 32 minutes.
“We were trying to help our offense the best we could because our offense was having a little bit of a rougher day than they normally do,” Land said. “We were trying to get the ball back as quick as possible. Our middies were getting tired. We were causing good turnovers but then we were turning it over.”
“Bates did a good job of neutralizing our attack, which usually is a little more effective,” Amherst coach Christine Paradis said. “They did a nice job. They were hungry for interceptions and I think they caught us a little off-guard.”
MacMullen finally ended the 23-minute standoff with her goal, assisted by Annie Duke, with 7:27 to go.
Both teams got a little sloppy after that, committing eight of the game’s 48 turnovers before the game’s next shot, an underhand bid by Bates’ Sydney Howard that Land turned aside with 1:42 left.
Gustafson scored her second goal with 28.5 seconds left and Dewey added her tally with 15.7 seconds to go.
Bates trails Hamilton by one game for one of the final two NESCAC tournament spots with one game remaining, but Hamilton holds the tiebreaker by virtue of its 14-10 win in Lewiston last month. Colby, which played at Trinity Saturday night, is also in the mix. If the Polar Bears lose, Wednesday’s regular-season finale between the rivals at Garcelon would serve as a play-in game
The Bobcats, who lost to sixth-ranked Tufts, 14-9, in their previous game, have been gaining ground on the field, if not in the standings, Allen said.
“We have played very good lacrosse this week overall,” he said. “We’ve struggled to get ‘W’s, but we showed up and we played our tails off and played very well. “
“Maybe we’ll have a shot to sneak into the playoffs on Wednesday as the eighth seed,” he added. “It’s a bummer we weren’t playing this well about a month ago because maybe some of those outcomes would have been different. But I’m still proud that the team has battled and is playing well.”
Sydney Howard, left, streaks up the field as Amherst College’s Kate Burns gives chase during Saturday’s lacrosse game in Lewiston. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
Amherst players give chase to Bates’ Sydney Howard after she scooped up a loose ball and heads up the field during Saturday’s game in Lewiston. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
Bates’ Isabelle Paulus, middle, scoops up the ball and shovels it to her goalie Eliza Statile before Amherst’s Katherine Malone can get to it during Saturday’s lacrosse game in Lewiston. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
Bates College’s Allison Dewey fires a pass to a teammate during Saturday’s game against Amherst College. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
The Bates bench celebrates a goal during Saturday’s game against Amherst College. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)