By Garrett Cote
Surrounded by a beautiful blue and cloudless sky, the Springfield College women’s lacrosse team started their 2021 campaign off with a physical, gut-wrenching contest against Babson. The Pride proved victorious in overtime, by a score of 14-13, in a back and forth affair that included seven ties and five lead changes.
Rather quickly into the overtime frame, senior Kate Sarnacki found classmate Taylor Pichel with a slick pass into the middle of the defense, where Pichel was fouled, and awarded a free position shot. Pichel, calm, cool and collected, delivered in the clutch, winning the season opener for the Pride. Pichel pitched in a total of three goals and an assist in the win.
Sarnacki reminded everyone why she is one of the best in the business, kicking off her senior season with an exceptional performance, notching seven goals to go along with one assist.
The Pride established great success in one particular offensive play. Sarnacki found herself executing a cut directly through the middle of the attacking zone. Pichel and senior Jamie Jutras found her with slick passes on several different occasions. A combination of those cuts, capitalizing on both of her free position shots, and great team passing resulted in Sarnacki accounting for half of the Pride’s scoring output.
“We all try to play with a lot of urgency on offense,” began Sarnacki. “I just happened to be open on some of those cuts, which we all tend to make throughout the game. It’s nice to see when those cuts are open because they are fun to make and I know my teammates are going to find me.”
The entirety of the second half was predicated on scoring runs from both teams. Springfield came out of the break with a 7-5 advantage, looking to build off of the four unanswered goals they ended the first half with. However, Babson tied the game up at 8, setting up for a frantic final 20 minutes.
Junior Katie Martel netted her third goal of the game – one of three Pride to put up a hat trick – to give Springfield a 9-8 advantage. From there, the sequence of cuts from Sarnacki began, hitting on three straight to stretch the lead to four. Babson would respond with four unanswered of their own, deadlocking the game at 12.
“Yellow cards and fouling [allowed Babson to get back into the game],” head coach Kristen Mullady offered frustratingly. “We’re definitely going to work on that and clean up our fouling, but this was a good first game to take things and improve on them moving forward.”
With two and a half minutes left in the contest, Pichel, similar to what she did in OT, capitalized on a free position shot to launch Springfield ahead 13-12. This lead lived until Juliana McGuire of Babson trickled in a goal to even the score with 29 ticks remaining, ultimately sending the game to an extra frame, where Pichel’s heroics came into play.
Considering this was the first time Springfield College women’s lacrosse has taken the field in over a year, Mullady was overall satisfied with how her squad played and persevered through the challenges of this game and the time they had off.
“Overall, this team has a lot of heart, and they are all loving finally having the opportunity to play. I think today was a good foundation to keep improving on certain things, because truly we didn’t really know what we had to get better at [without playing games in so long],” Mullady said.
Sarnacki emphasized that exact point, as well as noting that even though there are COVID-19 regulations in place, the game still felt as normal as ever.
“We just wanted to focus on not making the little mistakes that may happen because we haven’t played in so long,” she started. “We were so locked in today that the game didn’t feel different at all. Music still came on after all the goals, our team cheered and chanted throughout the game, it all felt normal.”
Although spectators were not allowed in corollary to the coronavirus pandemic, townhouse residents spilled into the backyards, setting up chairs and benches to enjoy the nice weather and cheer on the Pride. As the game progressed, more and more students found themselves out there, potentially because word spread just how competitive and entertaining the game was.
Springfield is scheduled to visit Coast Guard next Saturday, March 27, for a 1 p.m. start time.
Photo courtesy of Heidi Schuman