MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- Junior Taylor Lough scored her team-leading 10th goal of the season but the No. 20 nationally ranked Bates field hockey team fell 4-1 at No. 2 Middlebury in the quarterfinals of the NESCAC Championships Saturday afternoon.
Bates (9-7) was the eighth seed in the tournament after finishing the regular season with a conference record of 5-5, the Bobcats' best conference mark since 2002. The Panthers (14-2) earned the top seed in the tournament after finishing the regular season with a conference record of 9-1.
Grace Jennings scored twice for the Panthers, including the eventual game-winner in the 32nd minute. She poked in a rebound on a shot taken by Marissa Baker to put Middlebury up 2-0. The Panthers' first goal of the game came in just the seventh minute when Emma Johns hit in a centering pass from Annie Leonard.
Down 2-0 at the half, the Bobcats cut the deficit to one in the 52nd minute. Lough (Little Compton, R.I.) carried the ball into the shooting area and pushed a shot inside the left post. Lough's 10 goals this season are the most by a Bobcat since Johie Farrar '03 scored 12 goals back in 2001.
The hosts had a quick answer as Jennings netted her second of the game on a tremendous individual effort, making it a 3-1 margin. She intercepted a Bobcat pass at midfield, split a pair of defenders on her way to the cage before tucking a shot in the right side of the net. The tally came just 51 seconds after the Bobcats closed to within a goal.
Middlebury tacked on a final goal in the last minute of play, as Baker one-timed a pass from Isabel Chandler with 54.9 seconds remaining for the 4-1 final.
The Panthers' Abby Furdak made a pair of saves for the victory, while junior Adelae Durand (Cumberland, R.I.) made five stops for Bates. Middlebury held a 10-4 advantage in shots.
The Panthers advance to play Bowdoin in the NESCAC semifinals. Despite the loss, the Bobcats are assured their second consecutive winning season. It's the first time the field hockey team has posted back-to-back winning seasons since they posted five straight winning records from 1980-1984.