P-P women’s lacrosse team finds silver lining in an early season loss

Caroline Worthington PO ’23, who had two goals against Wesleyan, attempts a shot during the Sagehens’ 14-6 loss to the Cardinals. Courtesy: CMS Athletics

Following an undefeated 2022 regular season that led to a Sweet 16 loss against Tufts, the Pomona-Pitzer (P-P) women’s lacrosse team is looking to come back and win it all this season; however, as the highest ranked team west of the Mississippi, the Sagehens will need to go through the East Coast to get there. 

P-P lacrosse got a taste of the east’s elite on Monday, suffering defeat for the first time this season. They fell 14-6 against the No. 7 ranked Wesleyan Cardinals on March 13 at the South Athletics Complex.

Five days before their loss, P-P destroyed their Sixth Street rivals, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas, 17-2. Sydney Landauer PZ ’25, who led the Sagehens to the win with four goals, said that while the victory did boost their confidence, the Sagehens went into their game against Wesleyan with a completely different mindset. 

“It’s a whole new game when we play a NESCAC team, especially ones [like Wesleyan] that are really good,” Laundauer said. “I think last year, we went into Tufts without a hard game like this one. This game was really helpful because we now know their style of play and have experience playing at a quicker pace than we normally would in the SCIAC.”

Wesleyan’s faster playing style was displayed immediately with the Cardinals scoring the first goal in just three minutes. Laundauer was quick to respond with a tying goal halfway through the quarter, but the Cardinals held possession of the ball for the remainder of the period, scoring another goal with four minutes left to make the score 2-1.

In the second quarter, the Cardinals sped up the game even more with four consecutive goals to take full control. Captain Caroline Worthington PO ’23 attempted to slow down Wesleyan’s momentum, scoring with four minutes left in the period, but the Cardinals surged on with three more goals to end the half with a seven point difference.

Hannah Gough PO ’25 said that going into the second half, the team’s main focus was to chip away at the score.

“Seven goals, if you break it down, is one goal per minute for only half a quarter,” Gough said. “We’ve scored more than seven goals in a quarter before, so we knew it was doable. But we knew we would have to come out and give it 110 percent because this team wasn’t going to let us get away with anything.”

Worthington was quick to act on the team’s new aggressive mindset by scoring in the first minute of the half. Landauer and Grace Warner PZ ’23 followed suit with a goal each to bring the score to 9-5. Worthington recalled the team was amped after the shift in momentum.  

“[Wesleyan] is ranked higher than us, so I think our mentality in the first half was that we are the underdogs,” Worthington said. “But in the second half, we went in knowing that we are going to give it our best shot and that we are really gonna show up. I think in that moment of [scoring those first few goals], I felt so much love and excitement for my teammates — it was truly indescribable and just the best feeling.”

After several saves from both goalies, the Cardinals were able to catch the back of the net twice to end the period leading 11-5.

The final quarter began with strong defense from Wesleyan, keeping the Sagehens from recreating their quick start to the half. After two more goals by Wesleyan, Eloise Cherian PO ’23 was able to add one more goal with six minutes left in the game to bring the score to 13-6. A final goal by the Cardinals at the four minute mark solidified a 14-6 win for the East Coast team. 

Despite the loss, the Sagehens remain confident in their ability to take on the top teams in the country. Gough said that the team should be proud of their efforts and energy in this game and will look to build on the positives for the rest of the season.

“We have a lot to learn from this game, but there isn’t, by no means, anyone who should be walking off this field with their head down,” Gough said. “We know exactly what we need to work on — this was a beautiful game team for us, and I’m just super hyped coming out of it.”

Landauer credits the early successes of this season to the competitive nature of their team and practices. 

“We always say that we are each other’s greatest competition,” Landauer said. “We bring what we like to call ‘HEN-ergy’ onto the field, and I think we brought it today and we are going to keep bringing it for the rest of the season.”

Worthington is looking forward to getting closer to her teammates and building on this loss. 

“Every game I learn more about what people like to do with the ball and how I can support them in doing that,” Worthington said. “I’m just excited to see how our team is going to grow. We’ve got a lot of really great underclassmen, so I’m really excited to see them gain their confidence and take those drives and plays that they wouldn’t normally take or that they might not be super comfortable with yet.”

Following their loss to the Cardinals, P-P bounced back with dominant wins against Oneonta and Lake Forest to bring their overall record to 8-1. The Sagehens will head to Redlands on Wednesday, March 22 at 7 p.m. to take on the Bulldogs for the second time this season after beating them in February.

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