Women’s lacrosse starts season hot against Redlands

The Occidental College Women’s Lacrosse Team come together during a game against Redlands at Patterson Field at Occidental College in Los Angeles on Feb. 14, 2018. Allen Li / The Occidental

Occidental’s women’s lacrosse team won its opening game over the University of Redlands Feb. 14 on Patterson Field. The 19–12 win was the largest margin Occidental has beaten Redlands by in the program’s history, according to Alessandra Pelliccia (sophomore).

Both teams were coming off the back of strong 2017 seasons, where each team lost in the semi-finals of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) postseason tournament. During this year’s opening game, however, Occidental was ahead for most of the game, after taking lead in the first minute when Lauren DiLella (first year) scored on her debut game for the Tigers.

“Scoring the very first goal against Redlands felt great, especially since it was the first goal of my career here at Oxy,” DiLella said via email. “I think it was a really positive way to start our first game and got our whole team pumped up.”

After leading 8–4 at halftime, Occidental went on to see out the victory led by senior captains Ciara Byrne, who had five goals, and Sierra Slack, who had five goals and two assists. Also leading the way was last year’s SCIAC Offensive Player of the Year Pelliccia, who had five goals and two assists.

“I felt like all of our efforts during pre-season had finally paid off and I was happy to see so many of my talented teammates contribute to our team’s victory,” Pelliccia said.

Head coach Stephanie Mark also expressed her happiness following the team’s performance in their opening game.

“We had some lulls and drops in energy at times on defense — but they executed the scouting report well and we were able to win by seven which is great for such a big conference game vs. a traditionally tough opponent of Redlands,” Mark said via email.

The team will now look to build on this success. Pelliccia said that she feels captains Byrne and Slack will be pivotal to how far the team can go.

“Ciara and Sierra are both phenomenal players with school records and have done so much for the Occidental lacrosse program over the past three years,” Pelliccia said. “I am excited to see all of the things they accomplish in their last season, and I know that everyone on our team looks up to them as leaders.”

The team’s preseason went very well, according to Slack, and not losing a big senior class at the end of last season was another positive. The team has added six first years to their roster and only had to make up for the loss of one senior in Rebecca Reese. Slack expressed how this has benefitted the team heading into this year.

Alessandra Pellicia (sophomore) guards against Redlands at Patterson Field at Occidental College in Los Angeles on Feb. 14, 2018. Allen Li / The Occidental

“We are a really tight-knit team and play best when we are working together,” Slack said. “Having a lot of the same personnel as last year has helped our new additions fit in seamlessly.”

After winning the first game, the Tigers are now one step closer to achieving their goals for the season. Slack said that the team is desperate to win a SCIAC championship. Mark said that she has hopes the team could go even further than that.

“Our goal is to compete for a SCIAC championship and be the strongest team in the west region,” Mark said via email. “If we can do that, we will be very competitive for an NCAA tournament bid.”

Following the win over Redlands, the team traveled to Texas and defeated Southwestern University 23–5, Feb. 17.

“We made some adjustments after allowing 12 goals to Redlands; we only allowed five against Southwestern so that improvement was great to see,” Mark said via email.

DiLella once again impressed with five goals and five assists.

“It was a great win for us because we worked so well together as a team. Every player made a difference on the field and contributed in a big way to the victory,” DiLella said via email.

The Tigers’ next home game is against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in a SCIAC matchup on Patterson Field Feb. 21 at 5:30 p.m.