Women's Lacrosse | Tufts downs Endicott to halt losing streak at three
Published: Friday, April 6, 2012
Updated: Friday, April 6, 2012 11:04
The No. 12 women’s lacrosse team just needed a win. After suffering defeats in their last three games, all to conference opponents, the Jumbos were hovering close to the .500 mark, a line that the team is desperate not to cross. But against Endicott on Wednesday, Tufts managed to right the ship, building an 8-1 halftime lead before taking the game 14-7.
“It’s been steady improvement,” coach Carol Rappoli said. “Those [losses] were within nine days against very good competition. Those teams are just at a different place than we are right now. But we focused on two or three areas and made a few changes, and that made a big difference.”
As the score suggests, Tufts dominated the flow of the game and bested the Gulls in nearly every statistical category. The game also marked an offensive turnaround for Tufts, which had been held to just over seven goals per game in its last three contests.
“The difference was that we translated what we worked on in practice into the game and really executed,” senior attacker Kelly Hyland said. “On offense, it was about spreading out and keeping the lanes open so we could get a lot of shots on goal.”
Not only did Tufts score 14 goals, the team’s third-highest total of the season, but the scoring was also evenly distributed, with six players tallying at least one goal and seven players scoring at least one point.
“[Wednesday’s] win felt great after all of our hard work the past few weeks,” senior tri-captain defender Katie Lotz said. “I think the main thing we improved on was being dynamic all over the field. On attack and defense we were being so conscious of moving the ball and being aware of our surroundings, and I think that really made a difference in our play.”
The first half was about as lopsided as a collegiate lacrosse game can get, with the Jumbos dominating the Gulls all over the field and outshooting them 19-5. Endicott turned the ball over 13 times, allowing Tufts to assert control of possession on the offensive end. Sophomore attacker Gabby Horner and senior midfielder Emily Pillemer scored two goals each in the half, and after 30 minutes the game looked almost out of reach.
“In lacrosse it’s all about the draw and winning the loose balls,” Rappoli said. “If you can get the loose balls you’ll have more opportunities on attack, and I thought that was the difference in the first half.”
The performance was a great sign for the team, which now heads into the final six games of its schedule, five of which are against conference opponents. First up is Williams, which will come to Bello Field tomorrow looking for its first NESCAC win of the season.
“Williams has always been a big rival of ours,” Lotz said. “Especially after our past three games, we know that it is especially important this year — every NESCAC game is now. The team understands the importance and also knows that we totally have the skills to beat them.”
The Ephs’ record is not indicative of their true ability, and their last three games were one-goal losses to Conn. College, Bates and Bowdoin. Accordingly, Williams will be desperate for a win, a fact not lost on the Jumbos despite the Ephs’ poor record.
“[The message has been] to make clear that Williams is as good as any team in the league and that they’ve lost all one-goal games,” Rappoli said. “To think that they’re struggling would be a mistake.”
The key for Tufts will be shutting down junior attacker Sam Weinstein, who has scored 17 goals on the year. Despite their 3-5 overall record, the Ephs have outscored their opponents by an average of 12.05-9.91, a sign that Tufts’ defense will have to be on its toes if the Jumbos want to boost their NESCAC record to 3-3.
“What we’ve been working on in the past few days [is] being dynamic all over the field, our transition, cutting to and from ball, [and] checking on the catch,” Lotz said. “[Those] are all things that will definitely be essential aspects of the game when we play Williams on Saturday.”
“We always get pumped to play Williams. They’re a big rival for us,” Hyland added. “We’re not paying attention to their record at all because the league is so crazy. We take it one game at a time, and we know not to take them lightly.”
Regardless of the specific strategies, the Jumbos know that they will have to come out of the gates fast against the Ephs and avoid the slow starts that have plagued them at times.
“We need to come out strong,” Rappoli said. “In the last few years against Williams we’ve come out very strong, and that’s been the difference in the games.”