Third Ranked Women's Lax Stays Undefeated
Issue   |   Tue, 04/08/2014 - 23:17

The third-ranked Amherst women’s lacrosse team amassed four wins over the past two weeks, bringing their undefeated record to 6-0 in the NESCAC and 9-0 overall. Their recent victories featuring two key NESCAC wins over fifth-ranked Middlebury, who was previously ranked third going into the game, and 13th-ranked Colby. With an 11-6 win last night against Conn. College, the Jeffs are off to their best start since 2000 season.

On Wednesday, March 26, the Jeffs took on Wheaton College in an out-of-conference matchup. Senior co-captains Elizabeth Ludlow and Krista Zsitvay each had three goals to lead Amherst to a decisive 14-5 victory. Other Jeffs that contributed to the scoring included Rachel Passarelli ’16 and Priscilla Tyler ’15 who had two goals apiece, while Alex Philie ’14, Sarah Spector ’15, Mia Haughton ’16 and Devin O’Connor ’16 all recorded one tally. Philie also notched a team-high nine ground balls, 10 draw controls and forced seven turnovers. Amherst dominated the entirety of the game with a 24-13 shot advantage and a 17-4 edge in draw controls. Christy Forrest ’16 had three saves in net.

The following Saturday, March 29, the Jeffs hosted Middlebury at Pratt Field. The Jeffs pulled away 11-10 in the end — their closest contest to date. Just over a half a minute into the game, O’Connor scored a wrap-around goal to start things off, and Meghan Mills ’15 and Haughton each successfully converted free-position shots.

Amherst held a 16-7 edge in draw controls, including a 10-3 edge in the first half, which was a key to the successful possessions that allowed the Jeffs to get on the board early and often. O’Connor scored her second goal off a draw control win, and Mills also netted her second off a Philie assist.

Down 5-0, the Panthers got on the board after exchanging a pair of goals with the Jeffs. Zsitvay and Passarelli each added a score in this trade-off to bring the game to 7-2. Middlebury continued to fight back and only trailed 7-5 at halftime.

Zsitvay recorded a goal just 39 seconds into the second half, but it failed to shift the momentum. The Panthers followed with four goals to give them the first lead of the day at 9-8. Haughton evened the score briefly at nine all, but Middlebury drew ahead again with another goal. Philie added another tally that brought the teams neck and neck at 10 a piece with time winding down on the clock.

With 3:35 remaining, Ludlow launched a shot to the upper right corner past the Middlebury goaltender for the game-winner. As the game wound down, the Jeffs largely kept possession and prevented the Panthers from evening the score. The 11-10 win was the first victory against Middlebury for all players on the current squad, and it also marks Middlebury’s first and only loss on the season thus far.

“We out hustled Middlebury on 50-50 balls and played fearlessly, which is exactly what we needed to do to win,” Coach Chris Paradis said. “Lots of risk taking, some worked and some didn’t, but we needed to play with that kind of mentality to elevate our level of play.”

“We have something really special this year. We have incredible leadership across the board in our senior class and our team gels on and off the field in an incredible way,” Mills added. “The Middlebury game was a culmination of all these factors and our hard work coming together … It proved to us and every other team in the NESCAC that we are the team to beat this year.”
On Wednesday, April 2, the Jeffs had another NESCAC matchup against Little Three rival Wesleyan.

“Wesleyan was not our best game of the season, and they were out playing us much of the game, but we found ways to put the ball in the back of the net.” Paradis said. “Our defense is playing incredibly well, and this is giving us that many more chances to score.”

Mills and Philie capitalized on Wesleyan’s defensive errors to get Amherst on the board early. Mills’ shot deflected off a defender’s stick and past the Wesleyan netminder, while Philie converted a turnover into a tally for the Jeffs. Thanks to a pair of Haughton assists, Passarelli and Mills each scored to extend their lead to 4-0. Before the end of the half, Wesleyan got on the board twice and Haughton had another assist, this time to Tyler.

In the second half, Wesleyan cut the Jeffs’ lead to two. Forrest had a huge save — one of 10 on the day — from a point blank shot to hold off the Cardinals’ push. The Jeffs pushed on to an 8-4 win thanks to additional goals by Tyler, Philie and Ludlow.

This past Saturday, the Jeffs traveled to Maine where they snapped their ten game losing streak to the Mules, avenging their loss in the NESCAC quarterfinals last season. Amherst continued its trend of scoring often and early. Philie and Passarelli brought the Jeffs up 2-0, but the Mules answered by tying the score. Zsitvay buried an unassisted goal and successfully converted a free-position shot before the end of the first half to put the Jeffs up 4-2.

To open the second half, Philie, Passarelli and Zsitvay each recorded additional goals. Colby decreased their deficit to 7-4, but Forrest’s nine saves kept them from getting any closer. Amherst pulled away with the win thanks to two goals from Mills, one from O’Connor and another from Passarelli.

Paradis was very happy with her team’s performance, calling it “brilliant.”

“Total team effort from start to finish. We smothered them and strategically focused on their best two attack players, which shut down their offense,” she added.

Last night, Amherst defeated Conn. College 11-6 to remain undefeated in the NESCAC. The Jeffs will continue conferenece-play Tufts this Saturday at 12 p.m. at home and will then travel to Skidmore the following Tuesday.

“No one is satisfied with just being undefeated. Everyday we strive to get better and as long as we keep doing that I think we have a really promising outlook for the rest of the season,” Mills noted.