In its final regular-season game of the season, and with just seconds remaining, the Springfield College women’s lacrosse team held on to a one-goal lead over Coast Guard. The Bear’s offense was heating up, scoring two clutch goals down the stretch to give them some life.
Coast Guard’s Gillian Cascio won the ensuing draw, giving her team a chance to tie the game. Springfield applied instant pressure, forcing Coast Guard to keep the ball moving and make some tough passes. The ball eventually found its way back to Cascio, and in an attempt to make up time and get down the field quickly, she threw a bomb intended for Katherine Pittman – but it never found the mark.
Instead, Springfield midfielder Katie Campbell read the play perfectly, intercepting the pass with an impressive leaping one-handed snag, which turned out to be the nail in the coffin for the Bears.
This final victory topped off a great season for the Pride, who finished regular season play with a 12-5 overall record, and a strong 8-1 conference record – their only loss coming to conference foe Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) at home back on Apr. 16.
That dominating 8-1 record in the NEWMAC conference didn’t go unnoticed, as, after the win, Springfield earned themselves the top seed in the NEWMAC conference tournament – beating out MIT and Babson respectively.
“It feels pretty good, considering all the hard work we put in,” first-year midfielder Samatha Andresen said. “It wasn’t easy getting to where we are.”
Although all three teams had the same conference record of 8-1, Springfield nabbed the top spot because of how the losses went. Springfield defeated Babson 15-10 at home on Mar. 19, and Babson beat MIT in a 17-16 overtime thriller on Mar. 26, therefore meaning that Springfield’s loss to MIT, later on, didn’t affect them losing the top seed.
The Pride come into the tournament on a tear, led by a rock-solid defense. In its past 11 games, Springfield is 9-2. In that span, it has allowed 10 or more points just twice – even holding an opponent scoreless for the first time in head coach Kristen Mullady’s career, when they crushed Wellesley 24-0 on Apr. 20.
Because of how strong the defense has been, the focal point for Springfield in the tournament has shifted to the offensive side of things, at least according to Andresen. “We focus more on offense because our defense is such a solid unit,” she said. “Our defense always knows what they are doing.”
Getting the top seed in the NEWMAC is also a sigh of relief for the Pride, as they will retain home-field advantage for the entire tournament – a place where they play their best. When playing on Stagg Field, Springfield is better on both sides of the ball – averaging 15.22 goals per game (GPG) and 8.33 goals against (GA) at home as opposed to 13.63 GPG and 10.2 GA on the road. The team also holds a home record of 7-2.
With the home-field advantage, Springfield got a first-round bye, along with two-seeded Babson. The Pride will get a rematch against Coast Guard Wednesday afternoon in the conference semifinals, as the No.4 seeded Bears prevailed over No.5 seed Wheaton in the quarterfinals on Apr. 30. On the opposite side of the bracket, No.3 MIT made quick work of No.6 Smith, defeating them 25-4. That set up a Babson-MIT rematch in the semifinal.
The winner of the semifinal games will meet on Saturday in the NEWMAC finals.
Before Springfield can look ahead at the championship, they need to focus on the game at hand. The best way to accomplish this is by sticking to what coach Mullady draws up.
“Following the game plan is a big one for us,” Andresen said. “Offensively and defensively following what we need to do is important to get us where we need to be.”
Photo: Springfield College Athletics