WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- The Bates field hockey team was tested in its season opener Saturday at Williams, nearly coming back from a 3-1 deficit before settling for a 3-2 defeat to the Ephs.
First-year Annnie VanWagenen scored all three goals in her debut for the Ephs (1-0), who avenged their 2011 season opener, a 1-0 defeat at Bates.
Bates junior Polly Merck (Beverly Farms, Mass.) scored a game-tying goal and assisted on Bates' other score, a tally by first-year Shannon Beaton (West Newbury, Mass.).
Williams took a 1-0 lead into intermission after VanWagenen scored on an assist from Caitlin Conlon with 10:09 left to play in a defense-dominated first half. Bates junior goalkeeper Becca Otley (Cumberland, Maine) stopped five shots on net in the half, as Bates weathered a 10-3 deficit in shots attempted.
The Ephs carried a 1-0 lead until 38:57, when Bates' Merck found the back of the net, knotting the game at 1-1. Williams quickly gained some breathing room, however, with two unassisted shots by VanWagenen at 43:18 and 46:09, bringing the game to 3-1. But Merck found Beaton at 55:09 to narrow the gap to 3-2. The Bobcats pressed hard on the Ephs' goal for the last moments of the game, calling two time-outs and keeping the ball on Williams' side, but were unable to tie the score.
Williams was credited with a 21-12 edge in shots taken, after an 11-9 second-half advantage. Penalty corners were 8-7 in the Ephs' favor.
Otley made 11 saves total, while Williams' Ariana Spiliotes had eight.
Bates has a non-conference date at Thomas College on Wednesday, Sept. 12, then hosts back-to-back NESCAC games next weekend, with Amherst coming to Campus Avenue Field on Sept. 15 at 11am (Video), and Trinity arriving on Sunday, Sept. 16 for another 11am start (Video).