Hamilton ousts women’s lax from Nationals

Women’s lacrosse fared well against Endicott and Hamilton in last week’s NCAA tournament games. The women easily advanced to the second round after a 19-9 win over Endicott. The team’s second game proved more difficult, however, and though the Ephs fought hard throughout, they suffered a disappointing 8-7 loss to the Continentals. Despite the ups and downs of the tournament, the final two games of the season saw great performances from an array of players on the team.

Indeed, despite the week’s mixed results, the team showed great resilience at the nationals level. “Once we realized that we were capable of sticking with and beating the best teams in the country, once we believed we could win it all, we became a different team,” said co-captain Britt Spackman ’09.

The Ephs’ game against the Continentals on Saturday was not nearly as exciting or successful as their game against the Seagulls, partly because the women got off to a rough start. They scored no goals in the first period, with Hamilton goalie Kate Fowler blocking all eight shots. But despite a disappointing first half, the Ephs definitely put up a proper fight. The women only allowed the Continentals to score three goals, with seven saves during the period. Goalie Julia Schreiber ’11 played a great game, competing all 60 minutes and saving 11 goals, proving herself worthy of her All-NESCAC title.

Williams picked up its offensive effort in the second half, with most goals coming from upperclassmen. Whitney Thayer ’10 scored the team’s first goal of the game nine minutes into the period. The women went on to rally during the middle of the second period with three consecutive goals, two of which Alice Nelson ’10 scored. Tina Nawrocki ’10 netted the third in the series at 18:02 remaining. The Ephs fought hard through the very end of the game, with goals from Spackman and co-captain Julia Nawrocki ’09 coming in the final 10 minutes of the game, but despite all of the Ephs’ efforts – including the higher number of goal attempts and ground balls – the team was unable to shake the Continentals’ lead. Hamilton’s narrow margin over Williams ended the women’s season.

But the Ephs had already proven their talent three days before in the first round of the nationals tournament when they came out strong against the Seagulls. Williams took 21 shots against the Endicott during the first period alone, and Thayer scored the team’s first goal less than five minutes into the game off an assist from Tina Nawrocki. From there on out, the women continued to score at an extraordinary pace, with goals from Tracey Ferriter ’10, Julia Nawrocki and Spackman all within the next six minutes. The Seagulls did not notch a point until 12 minutes into the game when Valerie Feldman scored. Feldman scored the only two Endicott goals of the period.

The women remained strong throughout the first half of the game, attesting to the team’s great breadth of talent. The women scored a total of 12 goals in the first period alone, two of which came from Margie Fulton ’12, later named NESCAC rookie of the year. The Ephs scored eight goals in the second half of the game, three of which also came from first-years Kaitlin Ellis ’12, Taylor Fleishhacker ’12 and Emily Wendell ’12.

Endicott tried to make a comeback during the last seven minutes in the game, but the team was in no way able to threaten the Ephs’ score of 19. The Seagulls scored four goals in those final minutes, three of which came from Alex Pearce. The women’s eventual 19-9 triumph advanced them to the second round against Hamilton, the 2008 NCAA championship team. After Wednesday’s game, co-captain Elizabeth Burns ’09, Schreiber, Spackman and Fulton earned All-NESCAC honors.

Overall, women’s lacrosse had an outstanding season. The women won 11 of their 20 games but also had close finishes in nearly all of their losses. “Our progress and success shows how competitive this sport is becoming as the pool of schools vying for the championship grows every year, and this season, we established ourselves in that pool,” Spackman said.

The impressive skill of the younger women on the team in particular proves that the Ephs will be a force to reckon with in 2010. “This year we proved to the rest of the country, that in the future, Williams lacrosse will be a team to take seriously,” Spackman said.