By Braedan Shea
Just a few days removed from its tough loss to Massachusetts Institution of Technology, the Springfield College women’s lacrosse team flipped the script. They completely picked apart the short-staffed Wellesley College at home on Stagg Field, where the Pride successfully pulled off a shutout, blowing out the Blue 24-0 on Wednesday.
The scene during the halftime break served as the perfect representation of the game as a whole. Along the Springfield sideline, team members were seen having fun — joking around, conversing with others, even dancing along to the music being played over the loudspeakers. It was clear that the Pride were having fun, and simply enjoying themselves.
The same couldn’t be said for the Blue. On their half of the sideline, it was apparent that they were already defeated. Players were either sitting down waiting for the second half to start up, or aimlessly passing a ball back and forth with fellow teammates. It was clear to them that this game was already over, as they had dug themselves into too deep of a hole.
Before the game officially started, Wellesley already found themselves down — as just a few hours before arriving on Alden Street, three players had tested positive for COVID. Not only were they not allowed to travel, but every member of the team also had to wear masks for the entirety of the game. Even worse, the increased absence led to the Blue only running a three-person bench.
Springfield was quick to break open the stalemate, as after securing the opening draw, junior attacker Arielle Johnson found cutting senior midfielder Katie Martel with 14:35 left in the quarter. Over the next eight minutes of play, the Pride tallied up five more goals, highlighted by a pair of goals from graduate midfielder Jade O’Connor.
Following the sixth goal, it appeared that Wellesley’s defense was finally stepping up, as they didn’t allow a goal for the rest of the quarter. But in the second quarter, all hope was crushed by the surging Springfield offense. Eight more goals gave the Pride a 14-0 lead at the half, which is also the third time in the past four games they have held an opponent scoreless by the halfway point.
As good as the offense was, the defense was unreal for the Pride. Through swarming, suffocating defense, Wellesley struggled to even get shots off. The first shot for the Blue didn’t come until there was just a minute left in the first half; and by game’s end, they only had eight shots in total.
“A lot of progress is being made every game,” said Springfield head coach Kristen Mullady, in reference to the string of strong defensive performances. “Certainly that was a good game — where a lot of people played solid defense. I think definitely every game we’re improving on our defense.”
Mullady wasn’t the only one impressed by the great defense. “I’m pretty proud,” said first-year midfielder Emily Zambarano. “I normally am not one of the starters out there, and I will say the fact that our starters were not in today speaks lengths to our team’s hard work and depth and effort; especially by our goalies as well.”
The second half marked as much of the same for both teams, with Springfield playing incredibly on both sides of the field, and Wellesley struggling. Springfield scored 10 more times before games ended while also holding off the Blue. This secured something that Coach Mullady had never done in her tenure here — a shutout.
“Yeah, that was pretty good,” Mullady said. “We also had a lot of rotations going in there, so that was good.”
Mullady wasn’t the only one to secure a first, however, as with 10:34 left to go in the fourth, Zambarano found the back of the net for the first time in her collegiate career. Also, with a goal coming in the second half, senior midfielder Katie Martel hit the 100th career points mark.
“It feels pretty cool to score my first goal,” Zambarano said. “Lacrosse was never my first sport, and when I came to Springfield, the coaching staff granted me the opportunity to get better every day. I feel like I get better as an athlete on and off the field, because Springfield provides me with the best support system to do so.”
Springfield looks to carry its momentum into Saturday’s road game against Wheaton College at 1:00 p.m.
Photo: Springfield College Athletics