Top-Ranked Middlebury Edges #14 Bates, 1-0

Erin Nicholas notched the game-winning goal for the top-ranked Panthers on Saturday.
Erin Nicholas notched the game-winning goal for the top-ranked Panthers on Saturday.

Top-ranked Middlebury remained the lone undefeated team in the NESCAC, securing a 1-0 road win Saturday at #14 Bates (5-3, 2-3). The Panthers (10-0, 6-0) return home next Saturday for a conference tilt with Colby at 12:00 p.m.

Late in the opening quarter, Bates had a pair of quality chances from point-blank range by Ally Leahy, but Panther goalie Grace Harlan came up with two key saves. Middlebury had a penalty corner moments later with Kelly Coyle's bid from the right wing going wide of the cage.

In the second stanza, the Panthers claimed a 1-0 lead when they were awarded a penalty stroke after a scramble in front of the Bobcat net. Erin Nicholas snuck a shot inside the left post for her fifth goal of the season with 10:52 on the clock.

Midway through the third frame, the Bobcats appeared to score on a long shot by Grace Fitzgerald from beyond the arc. Bates celebrated as though the ball was tipped on the way to the goal, but following a conference by the referees, the score was not allowed. That set off a string of three-straight penalty corners for the hosts, with Middlebury holding its ground on each attempt. The Panthers had a late bid when Marissa Baker's shot near the right post went wide.

In the final 15 minutes, Middlebury's defense was solid, limiting the Bobcats to only one shot on goal, a long bid by Sarah Bussell that was kicked aside by Harlan.

Harlan finished with four saves for her sixth shutout of the fall, while Ellie Bauer and Grace Biddle each played a half for the hosts and had two saves apiece.

Middlebury held a slight 13-11 edge in shots, but Bates had an 8-5 advantage in penalty corners.

With her goal, Nicholas now has a five-game point streak, recording four goals and three assists in that span.