By Garrett Cote
Springfield College’s women’s lacrosse team is headed back to the NEWMAC Finals yet again. After turning in a strong team performance, the Pride proved victorious against the Wheaton College Lions in the NEWMAC semifinals, 14-11.
A bright, sunny day with an occasional breeze made for quite gorgeous lacrosse weather on Stagg Field Saturday afternoon.
Injuries aside, Saturday was the first time during this short and unique lacrosse season that the Pride were able to suit up all players on its roster.
“We finally got everybody back together to play which was awesome,” said Pride head coach Kristen Mullady. “Now we have another week to take advantage of, so we can go over the things that we just didn’t do as well as we had hoped for.”
Junior Katie Martel got the scoring started with an early first half goal, foreshadowing her solid effort that would carry on throughout the contest.
The theme of the first half for both the Pride and the Lions was defense, as each team brought pressure from the opening draw.
Senior Taylor Pichel built upon her tremendous senior year by scoring back-to-back goals towards the latter end of the first half to boost Springfield ahead 5-3. Wheaton’s Emma Ford and Pride first year Maddy Roy then exchanged goals right before the break to bring the score to 6-4 at halftime.
Wheaton’s offensive attack came alive rather strongly in the second half, perhaps knowing their season was on the line, by scoring the first three goals of the frame to catapult them to a one goal advantage.
Instead of cracking under pressure due to the Wheaton’s gaining momentum, the Pride weathered the storm and responded with three unanswered goals of their own. Senior Gabby Fogg, sophomore Arielle Johnson and Martel each found the back of the net to regain control 9-7. This lead would not be squandered the rest of the way.
“We had a lot of lapses today, but everyone was able to look each other in the eye and say ‘hey listen, we can do this,’ and we kept revisiting what our game plan was which I think helped us get the outcome we wanted in the end,” Mullady noted.
Down the stretch, Springfield dialed in defensively, and created several opportunities to breakout offensively, using the dazzling speed of Martel to flip from defense to offense.
“I work pretty well on the fastbreak opportunities,” uttered Martel of her offensive success. “I have been out for awhile so it felt good to finally be back out there sprinting on the field. Our team is like a family to me, and we work together so well. The chemistry is definitely there and I can’t wait to keep playing with them.”
Johnson added her second score of the game as time expired when senior Kate Sarnacki found her all alone in front of the net. This brought the score to its final total, 14-11.
Sarnacki, who is usually the one doing the bulk of the goal scoring, took upon a different role today. She totaled a career high six assists while causing three turnovers and nabbed a ground ball. The star captain played a key role for the Pride offensively and stopped several of the Lions clear attempts.
First year phenom goalkeeper Colleen Browne was a decisive factor in the Pride victory, coming up with several big stops in net to continue her impressive start to her Springfield College career. Her efforts saw her save total reach double digits, stopping 10 on the afternoon.
“We did a really good job sticking to the game plan,” Mullady said. “The leadership on defense, starting with Colleen, set the tone on the defensive end. We made plenty of mistakes, but she made a bunch of big saves and we kept bouncing back from the mistakes which is hard to do when you’re playing a good team like Wheaton.”
Martel threw in four goals, had four draw controls, and scooped up a ground ball for the Pride. Pichel was able to tally three goals of her own, notching a hat trick as she has done in each of Springfield’s four games. Fogg, Johnson, and junior Anjelia Altebrando each scored two goals, and Roy added her aforementioned goal along with one assist.
Wheaton struck with a balanced offensive attack as it saw eight different players score, led by speedy sophomore Brooke Harvey who recorded two goals and an assist.
The Pride will welcome the winner of Babson and Coast Guard to the conference championship game to Alden Street next Saturday. They will be competing in the title game for the fifth consecutive year (excluding last year’s cancellation of the tournament), and will try to defend their 2019 crown.
Photo courtesy of Jack Margaros