After a devastating loss to Pomona-Pitzer (P-P) in the first round of the NCAA tournament last season, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) women’s lacrosse team came into the 2023 season more motivated than ever.
CMS lacrosse claimed their first home victory of the season Saturday afternoon, destroying the Occidental Tigers in a 24-4 blowout. Their victory followed a Wednesday night win over Whittier on March 1.
Midfielder Emma Merk CM ’24 explained that the Athenas came into the game with a team-oriented mindset.
“After our Whittier game, we decided that we wanted to focus on working together as a team and making each other look good,” Merk said.
Abby Parrish CM ’23, a senior captain for the Athenas, reiterated Merk’s statement, emphasizing that the team’s main goal was to maintain their game plan.
“At the beginning of the game, our coach told us that we had to play our game and not focus too much on what the other team was doing,” Parrish said. “We’ve been practicing being very diligent and disciplined.”
The Athenas’ focused strategy was put into effect early as they started the game off strong, mounting an impressive 6-1 lead five minutes into the first quarter. Sticking to their gameplan, the Athenas were able to secure such a strong lead by capitalizing on four straight draw control wins to cut through a weak Occidental defense. During the remainder of the first quarter, the Athenas added six additional goals to bring the score to 12-1.
The second quarter proceeded in similar fashion, with little action from the Occidental Tigers, who added three more shots but were unsuccessful in scoring. A strong CMS offense paired with a weak Occidental defense led the Athenas to add an additional five goals, marking 17 straight goals for the Athenas and bringing the score to 17-1.
Headed into the second half, Parrish spoke on the team’s strategy to staying locked in and maintaining the lead.
“These games are really hard because sometimes you can lose track of the discipline we talked about earlier, so we have to pretend like we are playing our toughest opponent and continue to play really disciplined,” she said.
Echoing Parrish’s sentiment, Cate Lewison HM ’26 added that the Athenas focused on maintaining the energy they exhibited in the first half.
“We wanted to focus on keeping the energy on and off the field … and continuing to cheer for our teammates while remaining really disciplined in our offensive sets and keeping one hundred percent effort the whole time,” Lewison said.
Sticking to their game plan, the Athenas continued to put up a strong defense in the third quarter, only allowing Occidental to score once. The Athenas added three more goals to their tally, one of which was an impressive unassisted first-career goal for Kelsey Heffernan SC ’26. Following the three Athena goals, the score stood at 20-2 heading into the final quarter of the game.
The fourth quarter was full of action with goals from both sides. Early on, the Tigers scored twice to bring the score to 20-4. The Athenas quickly responded with four straight goals to bring the final score to 24-4. The final two goals for the Athenas came from Hannah Conte CM ’26, the first of which was her first-career goal.
Reflecting on the win, Lewison mostly attributed the team’s success to its leadership.
“We have awesome leaders in every grade, especially our senior captains and they make sure that everyone on the team knows that they are valued on the field,” Lewison said.
Speaking as a senior captain, Parrish added that the discipline that the Athenas display on the field stems from the respect they have for each other off the field.
“As a captain, I think my teammates look up to me, but I look up to them a lot too,” Parrish said. “Everyone on this team, no matter their grade, can bring something valuable to the team.”
With a positive mindset and team-focused attitude, Merk said that she is looking forward to strengthening her relationships with her teammates during the rest of the season.
“I’m just looking forward to getting to know my team better,” Merk said. “I love getting to know every single girl and part of what makes it so much fun for me is that we’re all working together towards a similar goal which is really fun and uniting.”
Adding another win to their record, the Athenas now sit at 2-0 where they look forward to facing 4-0 P-P in the first Sixth Street Rivalry game of the season on March 9 at 7 p.m.