London Leads Sagehens into Semifinals

Flipping through any edition of TSL this semester and perused an article on our women’s lacrosse team, one will probably be aware of the Sagehens’ attacking formula: Martha Marich PO ’12 shoulders much of the the scoring load alongside Jana London PZ ’14 and Logan Galansky PO ’14.

This Wednesday, however, London exploded in Pomona-Pitzer’s biggest game of the season with nine goals, taking center stage for the Sagehens in their 16-9 playoff upset of Whittier College. London’s output actually matched that of the Poets, the sophomore attacker one goal shy of notching a double-digit evening. The victory snaps a four-game losing streak and a series of SCIAC losses that extended over two months back to an earlier win against Whittier. The Sagehens, having defeated the fourth seed in the conference playoffs, will now travel to Occidental college to take on the University of Redlands, the number one seed in SCIAC. 

“I think I played well tonight because I didn’t want the season to end,” London said about her performance. “Honestly, my motivation for tonight was my team and my coaches. I wanted this win for all of us and to show that PPLAX is a team to pay attention to.”

The Sagehens entered Wednesday’s playoff tilt as the underdog. Whittier had not only beaten the Sagehens 11 days before the contest but also had shockingly just handed Redlands its first loss of the season in a double-overtime thriller. The Sagehens, on the other hand, were thumped 18-11 by Occidental over the weekend.

London, though, instantly dispelled the labels, scoring the game’s opening goal less than a minute in and following with a second two-a-half minutes later to give the Sagehens a quick lead. Shaina Denny brought the Poets within one, but that goal was the closest Whittier came to equalizing the encounter. Pomona-Pitzer countered with a four-goal glut to separate itself from the Poets. Another London goal divided two by Whittier’s Carolyn Mukai, and the Sagehens completed the first stanza with a comfortable 7-3 lead.

Whittier mounted an ultimately unsuccessful comeback attempt after intermission, scoring the opening goals of the second half. Marich, who registered a standard five goals, halted Whittier’s momentum before London tallied another of her own. Mukai rifled in her fourth and last goal of the game with 18:16 left to play, then London and Marich each deposited a pair of shots into Yorba’s cage to make the night’s result inevitable.

From that point forward, the two sides traded goals, defender Rachel Kessler PZ ’14 tallying her first of the season in the exchange. With seven seconds remaining, London capped off a fantastic effort with her ninth goal of the game, finishing the game with as many goals as the entire Poet attack could muster.

Casey Leek PZ ’14 had a relatively easy affair in goal, recording seven saves in the decisive victory. Leek, though, was huge in the early going, stoning Poets on free-position shots to provide the Sagehens with a needed cushion.

Despite P-P’s recent struggles, London expected the Sagehens to leave Whittier with another game scheduled.

“I knew that the Oxy game would not bring us down, but instead fire us up,” London said. “We have something to prove to the SCIAC. Being ranked fifth means nothing. If anything, it gives us an advantage to surprise those sitting on their heels. PPLAX is coming in hot.”

The team will journey to Redlands tomorrow, hoping to replicate the Poets’ surprising success against the Bulldogs. The Sagehens will also want to repeat history as they knocked out Redlands from the SCIAC playoffs last season. 

An optimistic London believes that the Sagehens will be able to topple at least one higher seed.

“The Redlands game is nothing to be afraid of,” London said.  “We know what to expect and what we need to work on. Tonight showed that if we work hard, stay composed and play as a team we can win any game. Saturday is our game and the Bulldogs better watch out cause we will be sending them back to the dog house.”

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