The Pomona-Pitzer Women’s Lacrosse team lost a hard-fought game to rival CMS Saturday afternoon, 19-8. The Sagehens scored first and then evened the game at two goals apiece, but CMS’s deep attack and stingy defense soon took over. Martha Marich PO ’12 led all players with five goals, and Catherina Dugan PO ’15 scored twice. Casey Leek PZ ’14 and Dana Christensen PZ ’15 split time in goal.
“We didn’t play well,” Julie Necarsulmer PO ’15 said. “We got lost early and had too many turnovers.”
It was a dispiriting start to Coach Sarah Queener’s tenure, but she fields a young team with five sophomores and nine first-years. The Athenas, on the other hand, were coming off an undefeated conference season and returning two all-conference starters. They opened the season ranked 19 in the nation after losing to the eventual national champions in the NCAA tournament last year.
The Sagehens’ strength should be their defense, which is led by all-conference selections Leek and Marlene Haggenblade PO ’14. Leek played every minute in-goal and was voted All-SCIAC and the team’s MVP. She led the conference in saves per game, with 11.06, including a season high of 20 against Occidental. The lone upperclassman on the team, Martha Marich PO ’12, led the country in scoring as a sophomore but missed most of last season after tearing her ACL against CMS. Now healthy, she should be a major scoring threat and possibly in contention for conference and national hardware.
Going forward, the continued development of the underclassmen will go a long way in determining whether the Sagehens will be able to top CMS and Redlands and possibly advance to the NCAA tournament. Last year, the Sagehens beat Redlands in overtime but lost to CMS in the finals of the SCIAC tournament.
“We’ve got a really tight team,” Necarsulmer said. “We get along well, and we’re going to get better.”
The Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference has only five teams, since women’s lacrosse is a fledging sport at the varsity level in the west coast. All five make the SCIAC tournament, but an NCAA tournament bid is not guaranteed. Last year, Redlands drew an at-large berth, and the Sagehens beat Redlands, so the team is optimistic about their prospects for a berth this year.
“Going to the NCAA tournament is definitely a goal of ours,” Necarsulmer said.
The Sagehens’ youth and talent should make them an interesting team to watch, and as lacrosse continues to grow on the West Coast, their future should be bright.
“People should definitely come to our games,” Necarsulmer said. “It’s a bigger deal on the East Coast, but more people are learning what lacrosse is out here.”
The Sagehens continue SCIAC play this Saturday at home against Whittier at 10:30 a.m.