NESCAC seventh-seed women’s lacrosse (10-6, 4-5 in the NESCAC) upset second-seeded Bowdoin 14-12 on Sunday to advance to the NESCAC semifinals after falling 11-10 to Middlebury in Vermont on Friday in the team’s final regular season game. Sunday’s victory avenged a heartbreaking 13-12 triple-overtime loss against the Polar Bears on April 24 and allowed the women to be the only team to pull off a first-round upset in the tournament.
Sunday’s first half saw hurried offense lead to turnovers and poor shots, which in turn put undue pressure on the defense as Bowdoin took advantage of fast break opportunities. Attackers Margie Fulton ’12 and Katie Ellis ’12 got Williams on the board early, scoring the first two goals of the contest to put the Ephs up 2-0. However, the Polar Bears proceeded to score eight of the next 10 goals to take a 8-4 lead with less than five minutes left in the second half. Goals by attacker Tina Nawrocki ’10 and midfielder Nicolle Perry ’13 were sandwiched by goals from six different Polar Bears. A timely goal by attacker Sam Weinstein ’13 final muted the Polar Bear scoring spree and pulled the women within three before halftime, with Bowdoin leading 8-5.
The Polar Bears continued their offensive dominance in the beginning of the second half, as Polar Bear Liz Clegg notched her third goal of the afternoon to make the score 9-5. Williams then unleashed an offensive barrage of its own, making an unstoppable run of six unanswered goals to take an 11-9 lead with 15:42 remaining in the game. Nawrocki, Ellis, Weinstein, Fulton and co-captain Whitney Thayer ’10 all contributed to the run, which gave the Ephs a lead that they would not relinquish.
“It was a 12-minute spell where we really dominated,” said Head Coach Christine Mason when asked about the second-half rally. According to Mason, better ball handling and patience on offense fueled the run.
Bowdoin’s McKenna Teague ended the run and cut the lead to one, 11-10, on a free-position shot with just over 12 minutes left in the game. Williams’ defense held strong while Ellis, Weinstein and Fulton each notched another goal in the final five minutes to secure the unlikely 14-12 upset as time expired.
Both contests against the Polar Bears this season were well-fought and evenly matched, according to Mason. “[They] were good games, where both teams played well,” she said. “[In the second game], we knew them a little better, their players and what their strengths were, and the things they were trying to do.” In Mason’s opinion, that knowledge made the difference in Sunday’s game.
“[The team] knew it was do or die, so they dug in and fought hard,” she added. “It showed such determination.” Mason in particular praised the team’s defense and goalie Julia Schreiber ’11, who made 12 saves on the afternoon.
In the second half, Schreiber and the Eph defense held the Polar Bears to just four goals on 16 shots. Bowdoin also had only three free-position shots on the afternoon after claiming nine in the teams’ previous matchup.
On Friday, Williams closed the regular season on the road with an 11-10 defeat at the hands of Middlebury. The Ephs led for the entire first half, but the Panthers pulled ahead with a four-goal run in the second 30 minutes and managed to hold on for the victory. Weinstein led the way in the team’s effort with four goals, while Fulton chipped in three and Perry, co-captain Quinn Brueggemann ’10 and attacker Taylor Fleishhacker ’12 each contributed one. Ellis led the team with three assists on the day. Middlebury attacker Dana Heritage led all scorers with five goals on the game.
Williams is looking ahead to the NESCAC semifinal against Trinity, which will be played at Trinity at noon on Saturday. The Ephs lost on the Bantams’ home field on April 3, when the women fell to their conference rivals 12-5. According to Mason, the Ephs made too many unforced errors in the first matchup against the Bantams, but hope to make a few “fine-tune” adjustments in order to ride the momentum from Sunday’s game into the rematch.
“We’re excited to try them again,” Mason said. “The team loves being together, [so we’re just] happy to have another week.”
The winner of Saturday’s semifinal game will face off against the winner of the Amherst-Colby matchup, which will be played at 2:30 at Trinity on Saturday. The two victors will meet at noon on Sunday to decide the 2010 NESCAC championship.