Women’s lax off to 4-1 start

Women’s lacrosse (4-1, 3-1 in the NESCAC) started off its season during spring break, taking on Colby College in Florida and winning handily by a score of 17-11. Three days later, the team endured a surprising 12-10 loss at Bates in overtime play. Fortunately, the team has bounced back, winning three games in a row with speed, exceptional defense and impressive stamina.

The Ephs played Bowdoin on Sunday and pulled off a convincing upset over the previously undefeated Polar Bears 11-8. Though the score was often tied, Bowdoin was only in the lead once, and only for about a half minute. Most noticeable about the game – besides a particularly irreverent middle-aged Bowdoin fan – was the preponderance of referee whistles. Six of the 19 goals scored in the game were free points.

For the first half of the game, the Ephs and Polar Bears switched off scoring in bursts of two goals, though Williams was more often in possession of the ball. Amy Wicker ’05 opened up the game with a free-point goal at 26:56, and Kathryn Doherty ’03 added another three minutes later. Bowdoin bounced back, tying the game at two.

Five minutes later, Williams was up by two again – but Bowdoin again tied the game at four. Midfielder Stef Noering ’03 and Doherty sneaked in two more goals before the halftime whistle, ending the half 6-4.

Almost 14 minutes passed in the second half without a goal from either team, but Bowdoin broke the scoring silence to make it a 6-5 game. Two minutes later, Bowdoin had again brought about a tie. With 10:26 left on the clock, Bowdoin broke away from Williams’ shadow for the first time, owning a 7-6 lead.

Less than a minute after the go-ahead Bowdoin goal, Kate Leonard ’03 capitalized on a crucial free point to tie the game at seven, and Mary Jennings ’04, assisted by Doherty, put one in after another minute. Co-captain Heather Black ’02 sealed the deal for the Ephs, adding two more goals at 5:39 and 3:29, respectively. “Heather stayed tough the whole game,” said Chris Mason, head coach of women’s lacrosse. “She got knocked around a bit, but stayed focused and determined.”

The Polar Bears shot one past Ann Woods ’05 at 1:01, but Tara Boyd ’05 had the last laugh, adding one more for the Ephs at 0:27 to end the game 11-8. Woods got the nod in place of seasoned goalie Abi Jackson ’03, who was out of commission all week due to injury.

“Ann did a great job in the goal,” said Mason after the game. She was also impressed with the effort and consistency of Doherty and Jennings. On defense, co-captain Molly Venter ’02 was again particularly adept at inducing turnovers, though Mason noted that the team is working on cleaner breaks. “We were a little sloppy with our ball-handling,” she said.

“Bowdoin is a good team, and they really gave us some pressure,” said Mason, “but we handled it well, and put a lot of pressure on them, too.”

The women were on the field the previous day against NESCAC competitor Tufts. Cheered on by College President Morton Owen Schapiro and Director of Athletics Harry Sheehy, the Ephs rolled over Tufts 11-6.

During the first two-thirds of the first half, the teams seemed well-matched and the scoring was even. But Williams pulled away with a string of unanswered goals toward the end of the half, continuing the streak well into the second half – much like Thursday’s game.

“Tufts is always strong and aggressive,” said Mason. “And their goaltender is outstanding. They’re a good team.”

Tufts opened the scoring after three minutes, but Leonard brought the score to 1-1 on an assist from Black. Tufts again scored about a quarter-way through the game, but Doherty – with help from Jennings – responded, bringing the score to 2-2. Tufts would again score a few minutes later, but Jennings would score three in a row, and Black would add another, to propel Williams ahead at the half 6-3.

The Ephs opened up the second half with four more goals – two from Wicker alone – upping the score to 10-3. The Jumbos tried to hang tough, but even their three-goal run was too little, too late. With only 15 seconds left in the game, Leonard made the win that much more convincing with the last goal of the game, closing out the 11-6 win. Woods again played the entire game in the goal, saving six and allowing six.

Mason was pleased with the outcome, though not totally satisfied with the play. “We did create a lot of turnovers,” said Mason, “but we did not come up cleanly on many of them – we couldn’t seem to capitalize and turn them into goals.”

Despite a chilly outdoor night game on Thursday, the women outscored non-NESCAC foe Springfield College 19-9, a score close to last year’s 16-5 trampling of the Pride. Leonard scored the first goal after only 30 seconds, and two minutes later, Black added another. The Pride responded by netting four goals in four minutes. After both teams scored another goal each, the Ephs literally took the ball and ran, stringing off eight unanswered goals before time ran out to end the half 11-5.

The second half started much like the first ended – with another run of unanswered scoring from the Ephs – this time with six goals. After a Springfield goal, Tara Boyd ’05 and Leanne McManama ’03 would end the game’s scoring for the Ephs.

The Pride sneaked three more past Woods in the last 10 minutes of the game. Woods ended the game with 11 saves.

The Ephs will travel to Smith on Thursday for a non-NESCAC game, but will be back on the home turf next Saturday, when they take on Trinity at 1 p.m.