The Occidental women’s lacrosse team wrapped up a busy week of out of conference play Sunday afternoon. The Tigers (6-4) finished the week with a record of 2-1.
Last Wednesday, the squad squared off against Scranton University. Riddled by injuries, the Tigers played with only one player available off the bench. In the first half, both teams were evenly matched, scoring five goals each, though Occidental missed an opportunity to build an early lead, failing to capitalize on four of their six free position shots in the first 30 minutes.
In the second half, the Tigers came out with energy and quickly opened up a sizable lead. Sophomore Rebecca Reese led the charge, scoring a career-high five goals in the half. Reese says her scoring surge was due to the solid play of her teammates.
“We won most of the draw controls and got defensive stops,” Reese said. “When we dominate all over the field, we dominate on attack.”
Occidental opened up a six-goal lead with 7:55 remaining on a free position goal by Annie Stevens (first-year). Yet Scranton refused to disappear, battling back to within a goal. Scranton’s final push in the closing minute was turned away by Occidental’s defense, and the Tigers escaped with the 15-14 victory.
“Beating Scranton with only one sub really speaks to our ability to face adversity and rise up to challenges,” Sierra Slack (first-year) said of the victory.
Occidental faced Plymouth State University Friday evening. The two teams went back and forth early, with neither side able to establish a significant advantage. That changed early in the second half when Plymouth State put together a 3-0 run. Despite trailing 12-9, the Tigers did not surrender and in the final 20 minutes, Occidental battled to tie the score on goals by Alida Beck (senior), Mackenzie Wright (junior) and Beebe Finch-Sanders (senior).
Late in the game, Reese was fouled driving toward the goal. Reese sent her free control shot into the back of the net, seemingly giving the Tigers the lead with only 6.5 seconds remaining. Yet, to Occidental’s shock, the referees ruled Reese’s stick to have an illegal pocket, and the goal was discounted.
“It was really frustrating,” Reese said. “You don’t think to make sure your stick is legal in the middle of the game.”
After six scoreless overtime minutes, Plymouth State’s Megan Tingley (first-year) scored the game-winning goal in sudden-death overtime, sending the Tigers home with a tough 14-13 loss.
“It’s an unfortunate way to lose, having a goal taken away when you feel like you’ve just won the game,” head coach Stephanie Janice Mark said. “But I’m really proud of our team’s grit, battling through two overtimes.”
Beck led Occidental in the contest with five goals, while Reese added three of her own.
Occidental bounced back in a big way on Sunday in their matchup against Buffalo State.
The Tigers dominated the game from the start, quickly building a 4-0 lead. By halftime, they held a 10-2 advantage. While Buffalo-State trimmed the deficit to three early in the second half, they would never pull any closer.
A second-half scoring barrage including goals from Slack, Reese, Beck, Finch-Sanders and Ciara Byrne (first-year) propelled the Tigers to a decisive 20-11 win. Slack scored a career-high six goals in the contest, with Reese adding four.
Janice Mark was thrilled with her team’s performance.
“I commend the team for dropping a really tough heart breaker on Friday, and then coming back and dominating today,” Janice Mark said. “We have a team of fighters, and I think they showed that this afternoon.”
Finch-Sanders emphasized the importance of the Tigers’ wins this week.
“Our goal is to win SCIACs and reach the NCAA playoffs,” Finch-Sanders said. “These wins really help our chances of making that happen.”
Occidental’s remaining schedule includes five in-conference games. The first of those comes Thursday evening, when the Tigers face Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on Patterson field at 7 PM.