LEWISTON, Maine -- For the second straight year, the Bates field hockey team needed to beat Colby College in their final regular season game of the year to qualify for the NESCAC Championships.
And for the second straight year, that's exactly what they did.
Sophomore Taylor Lough (Little Compton, R.I.) scored two goals and tallied an assist to lead the Bobcats (9-6, 4-6 NESCAC) to a 4-1 victory over the Mules (6-9, 2-8 NESCAC) Wednesday night on Campus Ave. Field.
"We showed up and played better than we played last year even," Lough said. "I was able use my speed to drive the baseline a lot, find my teammates and even score a few goals of my own."
With the victory, Bates advances to the NESCAC Championships for the sixth time in program history. This marks the first time the Bobcats have qualified for the NESCAC Championships in back-to-back years and their four NESCAC victories are the most for the program since 2002 when they won five NESCAC games.
On Wednesday, the Bobcats recorded 10 of the first 11 shots but the Mules got on the board first. In the 29th minute of action, Merrill Read fired the ball into traffic and Hannah Hearn deflected it into the top right corner of the cage for her fifth goal of the season to give Colby a 1-0 lead.
The Bobcats responded quickly.
In the 33rd minute of action, their outstanding front line came up big. Lough attacked hard on the right side of the cage and fired a cross that sophomore Jessie Moriarty (Springfield, Mass.) tipped in for her team-leading eighth goal of the season.
The game remained tied for just over two minutes. With time winding down in the first half, Moriarty started the attack by delivering a great cross that sophomore Adah Lindquist (Wayne, Pa.) tipped to Lough. Lough buried the shot into the back of the cage to put the Bobcats up 2-1.
In the second half, the Mules switched keepers but it didn't stop the red hot Bobcat offense on a cold night in Lewiston. In the 44th minute, Moriarty had her shot blocked by a Colby defender but it deflected to Lough who proceeded to score her second goal of the night and her sixth of the season.
Bates maintained their two-goal lead for the rest of the second half and they put the cherry on top of the victory in the 69th minute. Sophomore Shelbie McCormack (Tyngsborough, Mass.) earned a penalty stroke opportunity and she converted with ease into the top of the cage for the first goal of her career.
The Bobcats out-shot the Mules 18-6 in the contest and sophomore goalkeeper Adelae Durand (Cumberland, R.I.) tallied four saves.
The Bobcats will visit top-seeded and No. 3 nationally ranked Tufts in the NESCAC Championships quarterfinals Saturday at 1:00 p.m.
"We played really well (in the NESCAC Championships) last year and the scores of the regular season don't matter," Lough said. "It's a brand new season and we're ready to go."