LEWISTON, Maine -- Senior defender Alexa Jurgeleit's second career goal put the Bates field hockey team ahead for good in the No. 16 nationally ranked Bobcats' 3-2 victory over No. 20 Amherst on Saturday at Campus Avenue Field.
The win clinches a finish of no worse than sixth place in the final NESCAC standings for Bates (9-5, 5-4 NESCAC), with one game remaining at Colby (9-5, 5-4) on Tuesday. Bates snapped a two-game skid with the victory.
Amherst (8-6, 3-6 NESCAC) dropped into a tie for seventh place in the conference with Hamilton. The Mammoths will play at Trinity in their regular-season finale Tuesday.
Bates trailed Amherst 2-1 entering the 39th minute of the game, but before the 40th minute the Bobcats had the lead.
With 6:58 to go in the third quarter, first-year Sarah Bussell (Mohegan Lake, N.Y.) evened the game for the Bobcats on an assist by sophomore Bridget Thompson (Newtown, Pa.). Senior Grace Fitzgerald (Larchmont, N.Y.) started the play by intercepting a clearing ball 30 yards out, carrying the ball and passing to Thompson near the top of the circle. Thompson dived onto the turf to in order to push the ball to Bussell, who was left open in the middle of the circle. Bussell deftly dribbled around Amherst goalie Emilie Flamme and deposited the ball into the goal for the tying score.
Bates was awarded a penalty corner shortly after the game restarted. Fitzgerald inserted the ball to first-year Paige Cote (Auburn, Maine)at the top. Cote scooped the ball airborne toward the goal, where Jurgeleit, boxing out Amherst defender Sophia Kaplan, got her stick on the ball and poked it past Flamme to give Bates its first lead at 3-2.
Amherst took its second lead of the game in the final minute of the first half. 10 carried the ball from just outside the circle past Bates defender Abigail Ford and in. Bates first-year goalie Grace Biddle (State College, Pa.) came out of the goal to try to clear the ball, but it skittered out to a wide-open Natalie Hobbs, who was trailing the play. Hobbs collected the ball and alerty lofted the ball over the scrum in front of her and into an open net.
Amherst took the early lead in the sixth minute, on the Mammoths' first penalty corner. Laura Schwartzman inserted the ball to Beth Williamson, who shuffled the ball over to Sage Geyer to her left. Geyer's shot found the space between Biddle and Ford, and the ball was inadvertently poked toward the goal and inside the left post to make it 1-0.
Bates tied the game in the 14th minute on a corner. Cote launched the ball toward the goal from the left side of the circle, and Fitzgerald, who had inserted to start the play, was in perfect position in front of the left post to redirect the shot past Flamme to make it 1-1 with 1:39 remaining in the first quarter.
Amherst threatened to tie the game again with 10:40 remaining in the fourth quarter, as a shot by Hobbs hit the left goal post. Caroline Donahue corralled the rebound and took a follow-up shot, but Jurgeleit, who stood on the goal line, cleared the ball away for her third defensive save of the season.
Amherst had a slight 11-10 edge in shots attempted, while Bates had a 6-4 advantage in corners.
Biddle played the entire game in goal for Bates for the first time this season, making one save to earn the victory. Flamme also made two saves for Amherst.