Touting a perfect 4-0 record heading into its game against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) Wednesday, the Occidental College women’s lacrosse team looked to extend its winning streak to five games, a mark that would qualify as the best start in the program’s five-year history.
The Tigers were able to do just that, pulling out a thrilling 12-9 victory over the Athenas and rewriting the record books.
The black and orange started off the game trailing as the CMS offense scored two quick goals to take a 2-0 lead. However, Occidental’s attack quickly overcame its early slump and went on an 8-1 run to take a commanding 8-3 advantage. Junior midfielder and team-leading scorer Alida Beck sparked the squad’s momentum, netting a game-high four goals.
With the Tigers’ lead whittled down to 10-8 with just under eight minutes left to play, All-SCIAC players Beebe Finch Sanders (junior) and Rebecca Belding (senior) came up clutch for the black and orange, each scoring a goal in the waning minutes to keep the Tiger lead intact.
“We have worked really hard for our successes this season nothing has come easily or without hours of practice,” Beck said. “I cannot emphasize enough how supportive and motivating our team atmosphere is, especially during games and practice.”
While the significance of the unblemished start is especially monumental as it comes in new head coach Stephanie Janice’s first season, the entirety of the unit acknowledges that there is still room for improvement.
“Our team has done a great job with our first five games,” Sanders said via email. “Granted they have not been perfect, as our offense has had to adjust due to the loss of our top scorer [senior Tori Larson, knee] in the third conference game of the season. We also have to keep working on our defensive and offensive strategies and skills, and tackle our mistakes in practice everyday.”
Though All-SCIAC selections Larson, Belding and Sanders headline a potent and deep Tiger lineup, several other members of the Occidental squad have become major contributors within the team’s rotation.
Janice sees the team’s distribution of talent throughout the roster in practice daily.
“The exciting thing about the group of players I get to work with everyday is that every one of them is a star in their own right,” Janice said via email. “Our veteran, multi-year starters have paved the way and led by example for some of the younger players like Mckenzie Wright and Alida Beck, both of whom have really taken large roles on attack and are two players you will see a lot of in the next few years.”
The Tigers now turn their sights to avenging a loss to Chapman in 2013 SCIAC Tournament semifinals and making a run at the conference title.
“Our ultimate goal is to win the SCIAC Championship and make the NCAA Tournament,” Janice said. “The team’s focus for March is to play like we are 0-0 and stay hungry, as we have a lot to prove. And that really keeps us motivated.”
Occidental (5-0 overall, 5-0 SCIAC) hosts the Saint Joseph’s College Monks on March 11 at 11 a.m., beginning a five-game stretch of non-conference games over the week of Spring Break.