One thing is certain about the Pomona-Pitzer women’s lacrosse team: When they play Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, fans are in for a thriller. In the teams’ first meeting, the Sagehens picked up their first-ever win over the Athenas by erasing a five-goal deficit at halftime and winning in double overtime. On April 17, it was CMS who made up ground in the second half. The two teams appeared to be heading toward overtime again before a controversial call gave the Athenas a free position shot with less than a minute left, which they buried to win the game.
Both teams outdid themselves on Wednesday night. The Sagehens, seeded fourth in the SCIAC tournament, scored first on a shot from the left side by Emma Molloy PZ ’13. Madi Shove SC ‘13 then scored two goals in 30 seconds to give the Athenas a 2-1 lead. After Jana London PZ ’14 scored off a feed from Molloy, CMS scored four straight, thanks to some advantageous draw controls. Goals from Kaitlyn Jones PZ ’14 and London pulled the score to 6-5 at the close of the first half.
Captain Logan Galansky PO ’14 cited the rivalry between the schools as a cause of their tight games.
“All of the SCIAC teams are very competitive this year, but I think the added emotion of the rivalry with CMS is what has made our games with them so close and exciting,” she said. “We both play our hardest against each other, and the games have really come down to who wants it more and who is able to keep it together as a team for the longest.”
Goalkeeper Casey Leek PZ ’13 made a crucial save on an Athena free position shot to open the second half, but Shove recovered to score another goal and then added two more to give CMS a 9-5 lead, their largest of the game. After London buried a free position shot, Jones caught the ensuing draw control in stride and outran the Athena defense to bring the Sagehens with two. Another CMS goal made it a 10-7 game, but Galansky notched her first goal of the game, and then London added two more goals, the second one shorthanded, to tie the game up at 10 with 5:39 left to play.
CMS added one more, but the Sagehens quickly responded with Jones’s third goal of the game to make it 11-11. Leek had yet another key save on a free position shot, and after a successful clearance, the Sagehens had a chance to take the last shot. The Athena defense held tight, however, and for the second time this year, the two teams went to overtime.
P-P struck quickly in the first overtime period, taking the draw and finding Ally McLaughlin PO ’16 for her first goal of the game. After London had another shot denied, CMS fired a shot off the goalpost. When the teams switched sides, the Athenas found the goal again to tie it up at 12 and send the game into a sudden-death overtime.
“We approached sudden death with the attitude that the only option was to win, or else we were done,” Jones said. “We stuck our heads down and fought for every draw, ground ball, defensive slide, and goal knowing that if we didn’t, our season would be over.”
The Athenas won the draw control, but Katie Savino PO ’16 had a crucial defensive stop, reading Shove well as she tried to position herself, drawing an offensive foul. After the turnover, Shove was carded for a hard foul on Galansky, giving P-P a man-up advantage. Immediately thereafter, the Sagehens found London, who broke a double-team and put a shot under the crossbar to end the game and send the Sagehens into the SCIAC semifinals with a 13-12 win.
“I just wanted the game to be over,” London said. “Our team had worked unbelievably hard, and without the defense stopping them the play before, no such opportunity would have happened. That goal showed the strength and the toughness [we have].”
Going into the final overtime period, the two teams both had collected 14 ground balls, committed 22 fouls, taken 27 shots, and grabbed 10 saves. London and Shove both finished with seven goals. Ultimately, it all came down to a few key plays in the final moments, and the Sagehens kept their composure and performed better under pressure than the Athenas.
“In the playoffs, where the stakes are higher, we were committed to working together to do whatever it took to get the win,” Galansky said. “In the end we just had stronger teamwork, intensity, and mental toughness.”
“That game proved that we wanted it more,” Jones added.
P-P will be back in action on Saturday night when they travel to University of Redlands, who beat them by a combined score of 24-11 in their two meetings this year. It’ll take a great performance to beat the Bulldogs, but this Sagehen team has shown that it is capable of raising its game when it matters most.
“We beat them once my freshman year in playoffs,” London said. “This year we plan to do it again.”