Women’s lacrosse record season comes to an end

Shai Goodman (junior) fights off her defender during the SCIAC Semifinal against Pomona-Pitzer at Jack Kemp Stadium at Occidental College in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 28, 2018. Nora Fujita-Yuhas/The Occidental

The Occidental women’s lacrosse team concluded their season with a 17–15 loss to Pomona-Pitzer, April 28 at Jack Kemp Stadium. The result was a disappointing end to an impressive season for the Tigers, who equaled the program’s best-ever 2014 regular season Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) record with eight wins and two losses.

The record-breaking season that preceded this game was a point of pride for head coach Stephanie Mark. The team finished with SCIAC records of 1–9 in 2016 and 5–5 in 2017 before their 8–2 performance this year. Mark commented how it has been pleasing to see consistent improvement during her tenure.

“It’s awesome to see the improvement each year and a big reason has been our senior leadership and team culture we have been working on the past few seasons,” Mark said via email.

Co-captain Sierra Slack (senior), who received three SCIAC player of the week awards this season, explained why the record had been satisfying to her for other reasons.

“It was pretty cool because last time we had that record was actually my first year here, so it kind of feels like we’re coming full circle,” Slack said.

The team’s only two regular-season conference losses came at the hands of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS), who are undefeated in the SCIAC. Of the eight conference wins the Tigers had, two came against Pomona-Pitzer. These victories set up the Tigers as the number two seed heading into the playoffs, with Pomona-Pitzer as the number three seed.

Co-captain Ciara Byrne (senior) said that after having disappointing results in non-conference matches midseason, the team made adjustments and felt their performances improved dramatically headed into the match against Pomona-Pitzer.

“We switched our defense and that’s been pretty influential, and we’ve had a lot of success since we’ve switched,” Byrne said prior to the game.

Occidental Women’s Lacrosse Team (white jerseys) faces off against Pomona-Pitzer in the SCIAC Semifinal at Jack Kemp Stadium at Occidental College in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 28, 2018. Nora Fujita-Yuhas/The Occidental

The Tigers trailed Pomona-Pitzer 16–10 with under 15 minutes remaining in the second half before rallying and coming within one goal of tying the match, making it 16-15 with four minutes to play. Ultimately, the Tigers were not able to complete the comeback.

Mark explained how the game did not quite go as planned for her team.

“We finally got into a rhythm in the second half offensively but unfortunately had an off day defensively; we were able to get within one to tie it, but it came down to a few plays and we ran out of time,” Mark said via email.

The Tiger’s strong regular season was punctuated by team members receiving four SCIAC athlete of the week awards — three for Slack and one for Byrne. Four players earned spots on All-SCIAC teams — Slack, Byrne and Emma Barrow (sophomore) — on the first-team All-SCIAC squad and Alessandra Pelliccia (sophomore) on the second-team. Additionally, Annie Stevens (senior) was named to the SCIAC All-Sportsmanship team.

Byrne and Slack received high praise from Mark.

“[They] are the best one-two combo in the whole SCIAC, so I am glad I don’t have to coach against them as they are lethal offensively!” Mark said via email.

Slack, who broke the program’s points record earlier this year, has provided the team with 59 goals and 30 assists in the 17 games the Tigers have played this year. Byrne managed to outscore Slack this season, providing the team with 73 goals and 5 assists in the team’s regular season campaign.

The two are part of a significant five-player senior presence on the team. Mark explained how the group will be missed by the program.

“[They are] such a great group and they have left a remarkable legacy for our underclassmen to follow in!” Mark said via email.