Author: Lena Smith
The Occidental women’s lacrosse team kicked off the second round of SCIAC regular season play with a narrow win against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) April 2 after having lost their first game against CMS at the beginning of the season. With less than two minutes left in the game, co-captain Alida Beck (senior) scored the winning goal, breaking a tie to bring the score up to the final 9-8.
“It was huge for us to beat them this time,” goalkeeper Adrienne Ruth (senior) said.
The Tigers took the lead quickly at the beginning of the game, led by two goals from co-captain Beebe Sanders (senior). Two saves by Ruth and a blocked shot by attacker Mackenzie Wright (senior) kept CMS at bay. Despite the strong defensive play by Brita Loeb (junior), Alessandra Quaroni (junior), Monica Rosenkranz (senior) and co-captain Kristin Feinberg* (senior), which kept CMS scoreless for the first 20 minutes, the Athenas scored four in a row to end the first half 4-2.
The second half was a tension-filled back-and-forth between the two teams. Goals by Beck and Sanders, with an assist by attacker/midfielder Rebecca Reese (sophomore), tied the game 4-4. Quaroni caused a turnover, then CMS struck back, also causing a turnover. Ruth made a save, which was quickly followed by a save by the CMS goalkeeper.
Ruth had 10 saves in all, making this her second-best game this year in terms of saves. She attributes the high number to the strong defensive play of her teammates.
“A lot of the saves [on Thursday] were forced by my team to make me look good, forcing shots that are weaker,” Ruth said.
After a goal by CMS to retake the lead, Occidental trailed for 12 minutes of play. CMS maintained a 1- to 2-point advantage, which the Tigers twice closed to a tie. They were finally pulling ahead with only 9 minutes 30 seconds left when Quaroni made a key goal, running with the ball across the entire length of the field before scoring on an outside shot. CMS brought the score to a tie once more before Beck’s final goal for Occidental.
The Tigers introduced a new defensive strategy in this game, which they had been working on during the week leading up to it. A faster-paced, more aggressive style of play, it put pressure on CMS and threw them off their guard. It emphasized forcing turnovers and knocking the ball away from CMS, according to Ruth.
“We honed our defense for CMS. It was a controlled aggressiveness,” Ruth said.
Occidental has a much smaller team than most in its division. The Tigers played this game with 15 players on the roster to CMS’ 28.
“I think it says a lot about us that we’re able to beat a team when we have so many fewer players,” Beck said. “We’re faster, more productive, we know each other better.”
Beck struggled with shooting during the first half of the game, but scored four of the Tigers’ six goals in the second half, including the winning shot, setting a personal shooting record for the season. The team focused on manufacturing shots in the second half, according to Beck.
“It was not so much about the final goal, more about taking advantage of every opportunity,” Beck said.
The second half of this season’s SCIAC games will determine the conference winners. The Tigers hope to win enough games to overtake the other teams, especially after their strong performance against CMS.
“This puts us on a good foot for the rest of conference play,” Sanders said.
Occidental, currently ranked fourth in SCIAC play, has two important away games this week: today against top-ranked Pomona-Pitzer and Saturday against third-ranked Redlands.
*Kristin Feinberg is a member of The Occidental Weekly staff
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