No. 20 Athenas Lacrosse Show Strength in Cross Country Trip

Connecticut College Camel cuts in front of Luisa Valles CM '20 before falling 6-14 against the Athenas on March 16. (Courtesy of Connecticut College)I

t's not often that a Division III team gets a chance to put itself on the national radar, but with their three games on the East Coast over spring break, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's lacrosse team (6-1, 4-0 SCIAC) did exactly that.

The Athenas kicked off the trip with a rough 16-8 loss to Tufts University (2-2, 0-2 NESCAC), but showed signs of promise amidst the harsh Boston weather. Corie Hack CM ’19 had a strong showing with three goals, and Evan Murphy CM ’18 scored two of her own.

“The goal for the team is definitely to make the NCAA tournament and get as far as we can. We really wanted to prove on this trip that West Coast lacrosse shouldn't be overlooked and we absolutely did that,” Hack said.

East Coast lacrosse is widely regarded as being superior to the West Coast. Currently, no West Coast team has ever won an NCAA championship in any division, so the Athenas aimed to make a statement with their first East Coast trip in program history. Luckily, the second and third games of the trip secured the program’s place in the national arena.

On day two, the Athenas bounced back with a dominating 14-6 win over the Connecticut College Camels (0-3, 0-2 NESCAC). Emily Cohen CM ’20 scored four of the six, with Murphy again contributing two. CMS newcomers have been making crucial contributions all season long and are thriving under the team’s leadership.

“More than a third of our team are freshmen (and myself, a transfer). The upperclassmen and returning players all have showed leadership in helping the new players get acclimated, which has been huge in allowing us to win games with so many new players,” Murphy said.

In their third game in as many days — a schedule largely unheard of in collegiate lacrosse — the Athenas put up their most impressive performance. In the 5-4 win over Amherst College (2-2. 1-1 NESCAC), goalie Teresa Despres HM ’18 saved a career-high ten goals, and Cara Cancelmo CM ’17 was instrumental in 17 successful clear attempts.

“It was a cold and demanding trip, with three games in three days, but the Athenas really battled through and I'm proud of the intensity they brought 'til the end,” Head Coach Lauren Uhr said. “Traveling to the East Coast over spring break really allowed the team to bond and become even closer than before. We were looking forward to a challenging schedule, and we're excited that we returned home feeling successful.”

Following the trip, the Athenas were ranked #20 in the nation in Divison III lacrosse, a huge feat for a West Coast team. The program is in a good place to further its standing in the NCAA tournament and continue to bring CMS lacrosse into the national spotlight.

“I am hoping that we are able to play Tufts again in the NCAA Tournament, because I think we learned a lot over the trip and the next time we play them I am confident it will be a much closer game,” Murphy said.

The team will head to Pasadena on Saturday, March 25 to take on the Occidental Tigers at 1 p.m.