Women’s lacrosse falls 13-8 to Little Three rival Wesleyan

No. 20 women’s lacrosse (0-1, 0-1 in the NESCAC) dropped its season opener to Wesleyan on Saturday. The Ephs put in a colossal second half but ultimately were unable to overcome a 7-1 first-half deficit, ultimately falling 13-8.

Wesleyan opened scoring on Saturday, taking a 1-0 lead on a free-position shot at 3:55. Lilly Wellenbach ’15 responded with a man-advantage goal two minutes later at the 5:39-minute mark. Kaitlin Ellis ’12 recorded the assist on the goal. Wesleyan scored three straight before getting a man-advantage at 12:58 off a foul from midfielder Rebecca McGovern ’14. Wesleyan capitalized on the opportunity with a fifth goal at 13:18, compiling a 5-1 lead over Williams. The Cardinals scored two more before the break, with Wesleyan’s Kaylin Berger netting three goals before the end of the first. The Ephs were down 7-1 at the half.

The Cardinals notched two more early in the second – including a fourth goal for Berger – to take a 9-1 lead. The women were unable to capitalize on a man-up opportunity just 30 seconds into the half, but they soon caught fire on offense. Sam Weinstein ’13 tallied an unassisted goal at 10:46. Stephanie Gallo ’14 netted a goal at 12:08 on a free-position shot. Tri-captains Margie Fulton ’12 and Meera Sivalingam ’12 collaborated for the Ephs’ fifth goal: Fulton fired the ball into the back of the net at the 14:09-minute mark after receiving the ball from Sivalingam. The women’s three straight goals put them down 9-4 with 10 minutes on the clock.

“We struggled to find a rhythm on offense,” Fulton said. “Once we settled down and started playing as a team, we got a lot more good opportunities that we were able to capitalize on.”

Berger was not finished, however, as she scored her fifth and sixth goals at 15:02 and 19:05, respectively. The goals put the Cardinals ahead 11-4 with under six to play. Wesleyan scored another goal at 19:44, taking a 12-4 lead. McGovern then responded with a score with under four minutes on the clock to narrow the deficit to 12-5. Wesleyan scored one more with just over three minutes remaining for a 13-5 lead, but the final minutes of the game were all Williams. Sivalingam scored on a free-position shot at 22:08, attempting to lead a heroic last-minute comeback for the Ephs. Fulton got in on the action with her second goal with 0:41 on the clock. She was assisted by Emily Jablonski ’14, and her tally left the women down just 13-7. Wellenbach also got help from Jablonski with 0:17 left in the game, keeping up the intensity to put the Ephs within five at 13-8. However, the final seconds of the game ticked off the clock without another Williams score, and the women went home with a 13-8 loss following their season opener.

Goaltender Ali Piltch ’14 turned away eight shots in the game, while Wesleyan’s netminder made 11 saves. Fulton and Wellenbach each recorded two goals in the contest. Weinstein also had a strong game, notching a goal and firing six shots on frame. “She makes smart decisions on offense and uses her quick first step to get around defenders in the eight,” Fulton said.

The Cardinals maintained a strong advantage on draw controls in the first half, winning six face-offs to the Ephs’ three. In the second half, Williams turned up its game on face-offs, winning 10 draws to Wesleyan’s four. The women outshot Wesleyan 30-27, tallying a 19-12 advantage on shots in the second half. Williams went 0-5 on free-position shots in the first but improved to 2-4 in the second. Wesleyan was 5-15 on free-position shots.

The women played MIT on Tuesday at 7 p.m., but results came in too late to report. Williams will next take on Trinity in its first home game of the season on Saturday at noon. “We’ll be focusing on our communication on both ends of the field, making good decisions with our ball-handling and finding our rhythm offensively,” Fulton said.

The women continue to compete over the break. The team plays William Smith, Union and Conn. College at the National Training Center in Claremont, Fla., on March 19, 21 and 23, respectively, before returning to campus for three straight home games. The women will host Bates, Bowdoin and Springfield in quick succession on March 31, April 1 and April 5, respectively, before hitting the road for games against Tufts on April 7 and RPI on April 10.