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Ephs surmount field hockey's big defensive effort

Becca Otley (0) made 19 saves behind teammates (left to right) Sarah Warden, Lexie Carter, Bridget Meedzan and Jillian Conway in a 1-0 loss at Williams on Oct. 26, 2013. File photo by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- A stout defensive effort by the Bates field hockey team, led by senior goalkeeper Becca Otley, kept the game at a scoreless draw until less than 11 minutes remained, but Williams' Caitlin Conlon scored the game's only goal in a 1-0 NESCAC win for the host Ephs on Saturday.

Otley (Cumberland, Maine) recorded 19 saves, the second-highest number of saves in her career, only two less than her personal record of 21. She has a whopping 35 saves in Bates' past two games.

The setback eliminated the Bobcats (4-10, 1-9) from contention for a berth in the eight-team NESCAC Field Hockey Championship tournament. Bates will finish up the season with a game at rival Colby on Wednesday, starting at 6pm. Williams (5-8, 3-6 NESCAC) clinched a berth in the NESCACs with the win.

A back-and-forth game saw a combined 50 shot attempts, 36 of them by the Ephs. Bates did achieve a 10-8 edge in penalty corners. Williams goalie Ariana Spiliotes made the save on all five of Bates' shots on goal to earn the shutout.

The first half was full of offensive chances for both teams, although neither would be able to capitalize in those first 35 minutes of play.  Each team got closer and closer to getting on the scoreboard, however, making plays to draw corners only to miss the net wide or high. 

Bates took over offensive momentum with a prolonged possession with just under 10 minutes left in the half. Spiliotes turned away a shot off of a corner, and Williams used that to transition smoothly up the field.  For the remainder of the half, Williams controlled the ball, taking a number of dangerous shots including a bullet by Annie VanWagenen off of an insert by teammate Caitlin Conlon.  

Williams dominated the second half in shots taken and corners drawn but remained unable to capitalize. Around the 55:00 mark, Bates had the potential to score but Williams turned them away. Spiliotes made a diving save to keep the score tied at zero.

At the 64:31 mark, Williams transitioned quickly up the field and was in its offensive end with a man-up opportunity. Emily Jablonski moved the ball to teammate Conlon, who was waiting on the left hand side of the arc.  Taking on Otley one on one, Conlon moved the ball past her deeper into the left side of the arc and flicked a high backhand shot into the net.  

With the score at 1-0 in Williams' favor, Jablonski had a chance to score on another one-on-one with the goalie. Otley made the stop, however, and Bates continued to fight. The time ran out shortly thereafter, giving Williams the win.

Sophomore Shannon Beaton (West Newbury, Mass.) attempted five shots to lead Bates in that category.