Happy vibes returned to Stagg Field on Saturday for the Springfield College women’s lacrosse team. With their 15-2 win over the Plymouth State Panthers, Springfield reclaimed its winning ways on its home field, after MIT celebrated its clinching of the NEWMAC title on Pride grounds last spring.
“This win at home is very important,” said senior attacker Bianca Raniolo. “But we are still going to keep working hard every day from here on out. We are not going to settle, we are always going to take anything we can from this game or any game, and make it better.”
Plymouth State’s Caroline Vonachen started the Panthers off strong, as she scored two goals at the first half’s 24 minutes, 8 second and 22:24 mark. The goal scored at 22:24 came off of an assist from Plymouth attacker Megan Tingley. Vonachen’s two goals would be the only source of damage from the Panthers offense for the day, however.
“We were a little slow to start, letting up two goals early, but I think once we relaxed and got our nerves out, we collectively played very well,” said sophomore midfield and defender Ann Mahoney. “I think the key to winning so far has been our determination. In the past games we have had slow starts and been down a few goals in the beginning. Working out the kinks on the field isn’t always an easy thing to do, but we have done a good job of persevering and sorting out the things that aren’t working.”
Springfield went on to shut out Plymouth State from there, as the Pride piled on 15 unanswered goals.
“Our defense got into their rhythm shortly after [the two goals] and they were able to hold Plymouth State to those two goals the entire game, which is huge,” said Raniolo. “Our goalie, Gabby Anderson, had some awesome saves, and our defense really worked together to prevent any more goals.”
The Panthers held Springfield to five goals in the first, and reached the half trailing by only three. But Plymouth State could not subdue its opponent in the second, as it lost its grip on the Pride’s offense, with Springfield netting 10 in the second half.
Sophomores Kristen Steidler and Shelby Corsano finished with three goals each, while Mahoney finished with four. Mahoney was creating her own highlights, as she tipped in an Allie Goddard pass from behind the net in the first, and finished an unassisted goal in the second with a killer stutter step around the defense.
“I felt that we were definitely able to create space for each other and recognize the opportunities that we had,” Raniolo said. “I thought our offense did a really great job of timing their cuts, so I was able to give them a good feed from behind the cage.”
Goddard also chipped in with two goals, while Amanda Nusbaum and Stephanie Hyslip had one goal each.
“Something I think that is unique about this team is our versatility,” said Mahoney. “Every game we have different people step up and make big plays. We don’t have one player that we heavily rely on, there are multiple threats on the field, making us a difficult team to play and defend.”
Plymouth State goalkeeper Meg Brault held her own against Springfield’s offense, saving 12 shots, while denying Corsano off of a rebound and Steidler off of a lob-and-spin.
Yet, the Panthers defense was unable to contain Springfield’s offensive scheme of passing from behind the goal to an open teammate cutting towards, or parallel to the net. Though the Pride eventually spread the offense out to the front of the net in the second half, the overall offensive approach was mainly coordinated by Raniolo. She finished with eight assists, while also tallying four groundballs, and causing two turnovers by picking off two goalkeeper passes, one resulting in her lone goal on the day.
The Pride showed relentlessness on defense when it came to defending Plymouth State’s ball carriers.
“We did a good job with communicating [and] crashing the critical scoring areas,” said coach Kristen Mullady.
When given the opportunity, Springfield’s defense would swarm the Panthers’ offensive player in attempt to force the turnover. This worked well in the Pride’s favor as they turned Plymouth State over 29 times and held them to 46 percent on clears.
Springfield also led Plymouth State in draw controls in the game, 13-3.
Mullady said, “We did a really good job on the draw today, and that really controlled the tempo of the game.”
Heather Raniolo led the Pride’s efforts in this stat, as she pulled in six draws.
“In all three of our games so far, our team has been winning a majority of the draw controls,” Mahoney said. “Both Heather [Raniolo] and Shelby [Corsano] have really stepped up for us on the circle and our offense and defense comes off the line quick for extra support, which is really helpful. Coach always stresses the importance of winning the draw, so hopefully we can keep that up in our future games.”
The Pride will play a road game on Wednesday hosted by Connecticut College, before traveling to Puerto Rico for its spring break trip, to take on out-of-conference opponents Denison and Stevenson.
Mahoney said, “Spring break is such a great bonding experience for our team. I am excited to play some new teams in some great weather.”