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Field hockey knocks off No. 2 Babson 2-1 in overtime

Junior Taylor Lough scored the first goal of the evening for Bates in a 2-1 victory over No. 2 nationally ranked Babson. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- Sophomore Grace Fitzgerald scored the game-winning goal in overtime and the Bates field hockey team stunned No. 2 nationally ranked Babson by a final score of 2-1 Tuesday evening on Campus Avenue Field. 

In the 75th minute, Fitzgerald (Larchmont, N.Y.) got the ball 25 yards out and moved just inside the arc. She ripped a shot past the keeper into the lower right part of the cage for the first game-winner of her career and her second score this season. 

"It was a whole team effort getting the ball up the field," Fitzgerald said. "There was so much energy spent throughout the game and in overtime, I just wanted to finish it." 

Bates (5-5) has now defeated Babson (12-2) in five consecutive seasons. The last three wins have come with the Beavers ranked as one of the top 10 teams in the nation. The Bobcats knocked off then No. 9 Babson 1-0 in 2015 and defeated then No. 8 Babson 3-2 in overtime last year. Bates was 0-2 in overtime games this year entering Tuesday's contest. Their last overtime win appropriately enough came last year at Babson. 

"We've lost a few games in overtime to some of the top teams in the country this year, so this shows how we've been able to stay strong," Bates head coach Dani Ryder said. "It's been a mental challenge and this win is a reward for their hard work. A lot of teams could have hung it up, but they've been relentless."  

The Beavers have gone 50-8 overall since the start of the 2015 campaign, but three of those eight losses have come to the Bobcats.

"It feels amazing," junior Taylor Lough said. "Last time we talked, I told you our team can do anything, and this just proves that tonight." 

After a scoreless first half, Lough (Little Compton, R.I.) scored the first goal of the evening for either side.

In the 54th minute, senior captain Sydney Beres (New York, N.Y.) connected with Lough, who received the ball, curled out to screen the goalie, and fired a shot into the back of the cage for her team-leading sixth goal of the year. Beres recorded her first assist of the season. 

"The ball just came to me and I've been working on that type of shot all week," Lough said. "It was a great goal and a great pass from Sydney." 

But the Beavers responded right away. First a shot from Jacki Merrigan hit the post and then Babson earned a penalty corner.

Kate Driscoll took the penalty corner and Ashley Tango fired a shot that deflected back to Driscoll. Driscoll finished for her seventh goal of the season, tying the game at one in the 56th minute of action.

Then after another penalty corner and an excellent save from junior goalkeeper Adelae Durand (Cumberland, R.I.), Ryder opted to call timeout 13 seconds in to the 58th minute. 

"She said, 'you've worked too hard for them to come back and get a goal like that,'" Lough said. "That really motivated us, and I think we all knew that but we needed to hear it." 

The rest of the second half proved to be a defensive struggle, with only junior captain Jessie Moriarty (Springfield, Mass.) getting a shot off, but she was denied by Babson keeper Deirdre Barry, one of Barry's two saves on the day. 

In the seven-on-seven overtime period, Tango got a shot off just 35 seconds in after Babson got the ball first. But the Bobcats blocked her attempt and went on the attack, culminating with Fitzgerald's game-winner just under four minutes later.

The Bobcats outshot the Beavers 13-8 in the game. They earned five penalty corners to the Beavers' four, although all five of Bates' penalty corners came in the scoreless first half. Durand made two saves in goal for Bates. Fitzgerald, Lough and Moriarty took three shots each to pace the Bobcats, while Tango took four of Babson's eight shots.

Bates is back in action Saturday at noon when the Bobcats host No. 5 nationally ranked Tufts on Campus Ave. Field.