Women’s lacrosse advances in NESCACs

Women’s lacrosse (11-5, 4-5 in the NESCAC) enjoyed a full week of competition, finishing up its regular schedule and moving into championship season on Sunday. On Wednesday, the team crushed Redlands (6-6) with a perfect score of 16-0. Though the women fell to Middlebury (7-2, 9-4) by a margin of six points on Friday, they rebounded on Sunday to beat Trinity (6-3, 10-4) in NESCAC quarterfinals.

In their quarterfinal against the Bantams, the Ephs knew they would have to come out stronger than they had on Friday. Before the game, co-captain Britt Spackman ’09 spoke to the team’s style of play and prospects for postseason. “We have gotten by so far this season, dusting ourselves off after close losses and moving onto the next game,” she said. “Those days, however, are behind us. From here on out, if we don’t show up to play from the start, if we get ourselves down, if we rely too heavily on our late-game resilience, we may find we have no more tomorrows to prepare for.”

The women did manage to come out strong against Trinity, who ranks just above them in the NESCAC standings. Although the Bantams pulled off three consecutive goals in the first six minutes, co-captain Julia Nawrocki ’09 rallied to score two unassisted goals. Margie Fulton ’12 then scored at 14:28 to put the two teams back on equal footing. Nawrocki and Fulton each went on to score again, and though Trinity broke the Williams offensive streak with a goal eight seconds after Fulton’s second point, the Ephs continued to attack with determination. Allison Page ’11 netted a goal, followed by two more from Trinity before Fulton sealed the half with another point at 1:53 remaining. By halftime, the Ephs had the slight upper hand with a 7-6 score in their favor.

Trinity proved resilient in the second half, scoring twice in the first two minutes to reclaim the lead by one point. But Nawrocki, Spackman and Alice Nelson ’10 took control of the offensive at 4:26, 5:49 and 8:46, respectively, to give Williams back its momentum. After Sarah Remes scored for Trinity at 10:15, the game saw back-to-back four-goal scoring streaks for both teams, first for the Ephs and then for the Bantams. Nawrocki then scored the last goal of the game to yield a final score of 15-13.

Williams’ quarterfinal victory was a significant turnaround from the women’s performance two days before. The loss to the Panthers on Friday was a tough one for the Ephs. Middlebury stands in third place in the NESCAC rankings, two spots above Williams, and the team had felt that the Panthers were evenly matched opponents.

Middlebury dominated the beginning of the first half. Panther Sally Ryan opened the scoring at 1:40 into the game, and Middlebury went on to score seven more consecutive goals for an overwhelming 8-0 lead with 17:38 remaining. Fulton finally put the Ephs on the scoreboard at 12:57 into the half on an assist from Nawrocki. However, Middlebury responded to the team’s first offensive breakthrough with another three consecutive goals over the course of the next seven minutes.

Williams managed to rack up a few more goals as the half wore on, but Middlebury’s offense remained strong. Kaitlin Ellis ’12 and Nawrocki both scored unassisted goals, and Ellis also assisted Tracey Ferriter ’10 in her successful attack on the net. Spackman netted another goal, and Whitney Thayer ’10 scored twice. Her second goal, on an assist from Tina Nawrocki ’10, came with only three seconds left in the half. Nevertheless, the Panthers also scored intermittently in the final ten minutes, and by halftime they led 14-7.

Williams only took seven shots at goal in the first half compared to Middlebury’s 18, and the Panthers also doubled the Ephs’ number of ground balls. Indeed, the women knew that they would have to restructure their strategy and increase their focus in order to make a comeback. “We have often times made this season more exciting than it needed to be, and we have gotten good at coming back from deficits,” Spackman said. “The hole we found ourselves in at half time of [Friday]’s game, however, was the deepest we have seen.”

The second half did see the Ephs capitalize on more opportunities; they had 15 goal attempts compared to the Panthers’ seven, and also scrambled to pick up two more ground balls than their opponents. Taylor Fleishhacker ’12, Thayer, Page and Spackman all scored in the final 30 minutes, but their offensive efforts would not have been enough to overcome the team’s seven goal deficit even if Middlebury had not scored four more times. The Panthers won 18-12.

Despite the defeat, the women still had a successful week with their washout win over Redlands and close quarterfinal victory. The team now looks to the NESCAC semifinals on Saturday, in which they will play top-ranked Tufts (8-1, 14-1).