LEWISTON, Maine -- Danielle Ryder won her debut as head coach of the Bates College field hockey team on Thursday night, as the Bobcats scored an 8-2 non-conference win over Thomas College behind Caroline Falcone's career-high five goals.
Falcone came within just one goal of matching the team's single-game record of six goals, tallied by Priscilla Wilde '77 against UMaine-Farmington in 1976, and the most by a Bobcat player in a game in at least a decade. (Wilde ranks as the all-time leading scorer in Division III history.)
Junior defender Lexie Carter (Saco, Maine) added two goals and first-year forward Sydney Cowles (Wayne, Pa.) chipped in three assists for the Bobcats (1-0). Sophomore forward Danielle Pierce (Parsonsfield, Maine) added a pair of assists.
Bates' resounding win stands in some contrast to last year's meeting with Thomas, which resulted in a 1-0 Bates victory. "I'm really proud of how these women adopted a new style and the new game plan," said Ryder. "Hopefully there's more to come, but we've just got to keep climbing."
Thomas broke a 6-0 shutout Bates had going through 61 minutes with penalty corner goals by Erica Blake (Norridgewock, Maine) and Brittany Premo (Concord, N.H.) in the 62nd and 65th minutes of the game. Bates added two late scores to bring the margin of victory back to six.
After a tentative first few minutes of the season, the Bobcats warmed up and began to exert pressure on the Terriers. The scoring got started in the ninth minute, when Pierce penetrated from the left wing and rifled a shot that was blocked by Thomas goalie Jasmine Bishop (Waterville, Maine). Falcone, Bates' second leading scorer in the 2012 season with six goals, was there to knock in the rebound for Bates' first goal of the season.
Just 63 seconds later, on Bates' third penalty corner, Carter stopped Cowles' entry pass and blasted the ball from just inside the circle. Bates made it 3-0 with 3:22 left in the period, when Cowles dished to Falcone, whose shot was deflected backward into the Thomas goal by Bishop.
Bates scored its second penalty corner goal on the first PC of the second half. Carter received the ball at top of the circle but passed to senior captain Polly Merck (Beverly Farms, Mass.) in the middle. Merck delivered a deft backhanded shot that was deflected by substitute goalkeeper Brittany Fox (Lovell, Maine). The rebound tailed off to the right flank, where Falcone fortuitously reached the ball and knocked it in from a 45 degree angle, notching her second career hat trick.
Falcone (New Canaan, Conn.) delivered her career-high fourth goal just 1:25 later, racing ahead of the Thomas defense on a breakaway with a forward pass by Meedzan, then one-touching the ball past Fox for a 5-0 Bates lead.
Bates made it 6-0 with under 20 minutes to go. Merck sent a diagonal ball to Pierce in the circle, and the sophomore redirected the ball toward the right post, where first-year Claire Markonic (Millerton, N.Y.) outfought a defender for the ball and eluded Fox for her first collegiate goal.
Erica Blake got on the board and closed the gap to 6-1 with 8:08 left in the game, rifling a shot from the left wing into the right side of the cage, on a Terrier penalty corner taken by
Miranda Tinsman (Belgrade, Maine) narrowed it to 6-2 less than three minutes later, as she and Hachey exchanged passes at the top of the circle before Tinsman rifled the ball toward the goal. Britanny Premo (Concord, N.H.) barely tipped the shot past Bates senior goalie Becca Otley (Cumberland, Maine).
Bates added in a third penalty corner score for good measure with 80 seconds left in the game. Cowles entered the ball to be stopped by junior Jillian Conway (Andover, Mass.), then struck hard through the Terrier defense and past Fox for a 7-2 lead.
Only 13 seconds remained on the clock when Bates recorded its eighth goal and Falcone tacked on her fifth, fed by Pierce on another breakaway.
"I was extremely impressed with our last two goals, after letting a couple of goals in," said Ryder. "That said a lot about the mentality of the team."
The Bobcats take on No. 1 nationally ranked Tufts in their NESCAC opener on Saturday at 12pm. Thomas hosts Johnson & Wales on Friday, Sept. 13.