This was the moment for which they had trained all those days in the off-season.
Every lifting session, swim workout, spinning class and lacrosse practice that the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s lacrosse team (1-0 SCIAC) had endured prepared them for the exact situation they faced Feb. 18 against Occidental College when the Athenas captured a tight 12-10 victory over the Tigers with a strong push at the game’s waning moments.
Oxy proved to be a tough opponent in the first half, scoring the first two goals of the game and battling to a 6-4 halftime advantage. The team’s confidence, however, never wavered.
“I knew that we could come back,” attacker Izzy Laterzo CM ’16 said. “The excitement on the sideline and in the game was very high and very positive, and we all felt like we had the tools to push forward.”
And that’s exactly what the Athenas did.
Attacker Tarah Gilbreth CM ’18 kicked off the scoring in the second half with an unassisted goal after just 14 seconds had passed. The two squads traded goals with neither allowing the other to pull ahead en route to a 10-10 deadlock with two minutes remaining.
Oxy displayed some feistiness that allowed for exciting play throughout the game, but also resulted in several yellow cards, of which CMS was able to take advantage.
“Oxy is a very aggressive team and we went into the game knowing that,” Laterzo said. “We were man down for a while so they were throwing a pretty hard double (team), but the key to getting past that is recognizing it and then getting the pass off quickly and looking for your option.”
The Athenas broke free from the Tigers when midfielder Lauren Clubb CM ’18 fired in a goal from a free position to tilt the scale in favor of CMS.
Midfielder Joanna Heywood CM ’17 then found the back of the net after receiving a pass from attacker Christina Coffin CM ’16 to secure a victory for the Athenas.
Two keys for CMS were gaining control of the ball and executing an attack.
“Draw control is key because if you don’t get the draw, you don’t get the first possession of the ball,” Laterzo said. “We also wanted to get down on attack and really have a focus. But we had practiced that before and I feel like putting everything together that we did in practice is how we won.”
The victory was all the sweeter considering how much work the Athenas had put in before the game. This year, CMS has a new coach manning the helm in Lauren Uhr. Uhr coached the Athenas for three years from 2004-2006 and then spent seven years coaching Division I Saint Mary’s College before returning to Claremont this season.
“We have a very deep team this year, and it doesn’t drop off after the top 12, so that will be a big strength for us,” Uhr said. “On defense, we’re focusing on individual sets and it’s looking really solid. Offensively, I think we have some great shooters who can get power behind their shots.”
Uhr’s second tenure as coach started off strong with the defeat of Oxy and she has brought some new training methods with her.
“It’s definitely a step up in intensity but I think it’s very reasonable,” Laterzo said. “She knows that we all have other commitments, but she strikes a good balance. She makes it really diverse and we all really trust her sense in the field.”
The Athenas face off next against Colorado College Feb. 22.
“Our goal is to come out and battle and bring competition to practice,” Uhr said. “We want to build up this team and make the players feel like it is something much larger than themselves.”