Jeffs crumble before women’s lacrosse

Facing a five-goal deficit at home with less than eight minutes remaining in their showdown with archrival Amherst, women’s lacrosse (5-4, 3-3 in the NESCAC) scored six unanswered goals to shock their opponents and claim an incredible 9-8 victory on Saturday. The victory was the first for the Ephs in the rivalry since 2000. Saturday’s win was just another sign of continuing improvement for the women, who went 2-3 over spring break before trouncing Conn. College on the road 16-9 on Wednesday.

Saturday’s first 30 minutes saw Amherst controlling the flow of the game, holding the ball for most of the half and dictating the offensive tempo. The Jeffs got on the board first, as Amherst attacker Wyatt Davis scored just under three minutes into the game after a slick pass inside. Attacker Margie Fulton ’12 then responded for the Ephs, scoring two goals at the five- and eight-minute marks to briefly put the Ephs on top 2-1. The lead, however, was short lived: Amherst tied the game less than a minute later and added three more goals over the next 13 minutes to make the score 5-2.The Ephs were able to pull back within two before the close of the half when Katie Ellis ’12 scored with 1:47 to play in the half. The Jeffs outshot the Ephs 15-8 on the period while turning the ball over eight times to the Ephs’ 10.

Amherst continued to dominate as the second half opened, holding the ball in Eph territory and limiting the women’s offensive opportunities. The Jeffs added three goals to extend their lead to 8-3 with just over 15 minutes to play. However, the Ephs soon exploded for a remarkable, game-changing run, scoring six straight goals in under seven minutes. Tina Nawrocki ’10 scored four, while Sam Weinstein ’13 followed up with two of her own. Ellis collected two assists on the run, and the other four goals were unassisted – including Nawrocki’s game winner, which came with only 1:00 to play in the game to stun the Jeffs on their home field.

According to Chris Mason, head coach, the incredible run was fueled by a late increase in intensity. “It’s hard to [explode offensively] when you’re down,” she said. “You have to muster up that intensity and make the opportunities count,” she said. “It’s huge to get a conference win … especially against a rival. It was great to finally beat [Amherst].” Prior to last weekend, the women had not won a Williams-Amherst matchup since 2000.

Mason also noted the women’s stellar ball control in the second half: The Ephs won seven of 10 faceoffs in the latter 30 minutes while forcing 10 Jeff turnovers and relinquishing the ball only eight times. “We knew that we had to win the draws,” she said. “If we didn’t, we were not getting the ball back.”

Somewhat lost in the incredible offensive run was the play of goaltender Julia Schreiber ’11, a performance Mason described as “phenomenal.” Schreiber allowed just eight goals while making 11 saves for a 58.5 save percentage. Schreiber’s play was especially impressive considering that the Jeffs had been averaging just fewer than 10 goals per game coming into Saturday’s matchup.

According to Mason, Saturday’s victory is a positive step in a challenging season. “It definitely gives us some confidence moving forward just knowing what our team is capable of,” she stated.

Williams dominated Conn. College 16-9 last Wednesday, though the game was evenly matched in the early going. Alice Nelson ’10 notched an unassisted goal within the first minute of play, but the Camels answered almost immediately, bringing the score to 1-1 before three minutes had passed. Whitney Thayer ’10 brought the score to 2-1 with her first goal of the game, but the Camels again scored soon quickly to tie the score back up at 2-2. Then the Ephs pulled, as four more Williams goals – one each by Tracey Ferriter ’10, Weinstein, Fulton and Thayer – and only one Conn. goal left the score at 6-3 at halftime.

After the break, the Camel defense collapsed under the Ephs’ offensive assault. A barrage of shots led to three more goals from Thayer, as well as three more from Weinstein and one each from Ellis, Taylor Fleishhacker ’12, Anne Marie Burke ’11 and Meera Sivalingam ’12. A comparatively meager five Camel goals on the half put Williams up 16-9 as time expired.

The Ephs have been somewhat up-and-down this season, never winning or losing more than two games in a row. The women lost 12-5 to Trinity on April 3, just days before the Connecticut College win. Over spring break, the team trounced Buffalo State 13-6 on April 1 after losing two straight to Catholic on March 30 and Tufts on March 27. Williams had started the break off on the right foot with a hard-fought 7-5 win over Bates on March 20.

Williams will take on Skidmore at home at 6 p.m. tonight before going on the road to face MIT at 7 p.m. Thursday and Wesleyan at noon Saturday.