The Colorado College women’s lacrosse team (4-0) defeated Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (6-1, 5-0 SCIAC) 12-10 last Sunday on Zinda Field, ending the Athenas’ streak of 31 straight regular season wins against Division III opponents, dating back to March 2017.
CMS and CC are fierce non-conference rivals and have faced off in the NCAA tournament the last two seasons. While CMS won each of their regular season matchups in 2017 and 2018, CC eliminated CMS from the tournament in both years.
Sunday’s game was tight throughout — the Athenas were up at halftime, and neither team led by more than two goals until there were three minutes remaining.
Attacker Emma Johnson SC ’20 said the team anticipated a close contest.
“Every time we play Colorado College it’s definitely a battle,” Johnson said. “It could’ve gone to either side — it was just whoever finished their shots.”
CMS’ contests against CC are a stark contrast to the normal level of play they face in SCIAC games, where they have outscored their opponents 61-26 so far this season.
Per league rules, once one team is up by 10, the clock doesn’t stop on dead balls. Head coach Lauren Uhr also has the CMS team stop scoring after 20 goals for the sake of sportsmanship, according to Corie Hack CM ’19.
The team still finds value in these games, despite the often lopsided scores.
“It’s not like we’re just standing, waiting for the game to be over,” Hack said. “In those situations, we like to work on our team thing — so we’ll work on our ball movement or our offensive stats.”
Sally Abel CM ’21 agreed that SCIAC matchups still hold value.
“It’s all about team chemistry, and we can work on that with our SCIAC opponents,” she said.
Nonetheless, Hack sees the weaker SCIAC competition as a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to facing more skilled teams in the NCAA tournament, like CC, who will likely be waiting in the tournament for the Athenas again this season.
“In the games where the competition isn’t as high, we can get away with making mistakes,” Hack said. “We’d play in [the] SCIAC and in our league, and we’d go to NCAAs, and we wouldn’t be prepared for that level of competition.”
Both Hack and Abel value Uhr’s efforts to schedule matchups with tougher competition like Colorado College. This season, the Athenas have also scrimmaged with Division I San Diego State and will head to the East Coast next week to play Montclair State and Kean University.
The Athenas have a lot to take away from their loss.
“Coming off of this we have some really good points of things that we need to work on, so that will be a big focus for us this week at practice,” Hack said.
She said there’s room to improve defensively — where some younger Athenas have shown some inexperience — and in team fitness levels.
Johnson, who hasn’t experienced a SCIAC loss in her entire career, said she thinks the loss could actually be good for the team.
“I think it will help us in the future,” Johnson said. “It will light the fire. We remember that we can lose.”
CMS also played Sixth Street rival Pomona-Pitzer (5-1, 4-1 SCIAC) last weekend, winning 9-5 Friday in a game that was closer than what the Athenas are accustomed to. Last season, CMS beat P-P 15-5, 17-3 and 17-5.
Abel said she believes the SCIAC is becoming increasingly competitive.
“Other teams are bringing in more good recruits, we’re bringing in more good recruits. It’s just constantly getting more competitive, which is really exciting,” she said.
Nonetheless, the team’s biggest competition remains Colorado College, who they’ll likely face in the NCAA tournament again this year. The rest of the season will determine who hosts.
“We’ll watch this film, we’ll take away the things that we need to work on, so hopefully — whether here or there — we’ll get the outcome that we want,” Hack said.