LEWISTON, Maine -- The No. 9 nationally ranked Middlebury started a 5-0 run late in the first half to pull away from No. 18 Bates women's lacrosse team for a 12-7 win Saturday at Garcelon Field, in the NESCAC opener for both teams.
Kate Ritter scored four goals and added one assist for Middlebury (1-0, 1-0 NESCAC), while Margaret Souther and Elizabeth Garry added two scores and an assist apiece.
Senior Joan O'Neill (Westwood, Mass.) scored three goals and assisted on another to lead the Bobcats (1-1, 0-1 NESCAC), but the stingy Panther defense was able to limit the 2011 NESCAC scoring champion to just five shots in the game. Sophomore Blair Shrewsbury (Boxford, Mass.) also scored three goals for Bates, a career high for the sophomore.
Middlebury collected 26 of 37 ground balls in the game, and outshot Bates by a 30-16 margin.
Middlebury built a 5-1 lead through the first 18 minutes of the game, as the Bobcats struggled to clear the ball out of their own end and could only get a goal on a free-position shot by Jenna Dannis. Garry capitalized on a Bates yellow card by scoring a man-up goal at the 19:59 mark, followed by unassisted goals by Ritter, Stephanie Gill and Ellen Halle. Bates slowed Middlebury's offense down, however, then closed the gap to with goals by O'Neill and Shrewsbury. O'Neill found Shrewsbury with 4:43 left in the half to make it 5-3.
Middlebury answered quickly with a goal by Liza Herzog with 4:06 remaining, right off the draw, and the Panthers rode their momentum with a goal by Souther just 11 seconds later. Middlebury then won its third straight draw, and with 2:21 left, Ritter made it 8-3 for Middlebury at intermission.
Bates slowed Middlebury's offense again to start the second half, but the Bobcats couldn't make up any ground before Garry and Ritter scored on free-position shots to expand the lead to 10-3. Shrewsbury and O'Neill scored 8-meter shots for the Bobcats to cut the margin back to five, at 10-5, but it was as close as Bates would get the rest of the way.
Bates junior goalie Eloise O'Connor (Loudonville, N.Y.) made a career-high 12 saves, while Lily Nguyen stopped six shots for the Panthers. Bates first-year Aly Dowey (Pound Ridge, N.Y.) caused five turnovers and collected two ground balls and two draw controls.