By Michael Battista
The Lions started and ended their NCAA tournament journey this past weekend, beating St. Lawrence University in the first round, 4-1, on Saturday, Nov. 14, and falling to Williams College on Sunday, Nov. 15, 3-0, in the second round of play.
The St. Lawrence Saints came into their first tournament game in school history since 1986 with an impressive 13-4-2 record, while the Lions were coming into their 25th straight tournament appearance with a 12-3-4 record.
The College took the lead early and didn’t look back when freshman midfielder Arielle Curtis was able to knock in a goal just under four minutes into the game. After the goal, the Lions had a few chances that went wide and high past the net, but in the 28th minute, junior defenseman Marissa Scognamiglio scored her first goal of the night, with an assist from sophomore midfielder Elizabeth Thoresen, putting the team up, 2-0.
The Saints quickly retaliated, proving why they deserved to be in this tournament, getting one passed senior goalkeeper Jessica Weeder to cut the Lions’ lead in half.
The first half quickly ended after that, but the College didn’t let the short break put any hinges in their play. Senior defenseman Brianna Cummings scored just 57 seconds into the second half, giving the Lions a 3-1 lead.
Sophomore midfielder Jessica Goldman said the team finishing on offense was the main difference between Saturday and Sunday.
“We played very well on Saturday and finished the chances we got,” Goldman said. “I think that was the difference between Saturday and Sunday — we finished our chances. Missy (Scognamiglio) played extremely well and had a part in every attack. Our back line was really strong throughout the entire game.
“Once a team gets a goal it is easy for games to slip away, but our back line made sure that didn’t happen,” Goldman said. “We came out in the second half and scored to put us up. 3-1. For us, that really solidified our position in the game.”
St. Lawrence had few chances throughout the game to come back, only getting two shots on goal against Weeder and only the one going in. Scognamiglio scored one more time in the 65th minute, where score would stand until the final buzzer, 4-1.
The team moved on to the second round, where they faced off against the Williams College Ephs in a rematch of last year’s elite eight game where the Lions lost, 1-0.
In a rare occurrence for the season, the College was outshot by a total of 15 to nine, with Williams playing tight offense throughout both periods.
The Ephs struck first in the middle of the first half, when sophomore midfielder Evan Gancedo knocked one in passed Weeder to put Williams up, 1-0.
Looking back on the game, Goldman says the Ephs’ tight offensive and defensive play is what won them the game, while the Lions’ missed goal chances cost them in the end.
“Williams deserves a lot of credit, they are an extremely talented team,” Goldman said. “What gave us the most trouble was their counter attack. Whenever we lost the ball they would be down our throats within five seconds.
“In the first 30 minutes of the game we were putting a lot of pressure on them and had a lot of chances. I thought we had a great chance at winning, as long as we kept to our style of play,” Goldman said. “However, when you get tired from playing defense for large portions it’s hard to get back into a rhythm. I tried to keep my head level after they scored the first goal because we’ve come back from being down before.”
Williams increased their lead two more times in the second half thanks to goals from senior midfielder Mai Mitsuyama and senior midfielder Crystal Lewin.
The score remained the same as the clock hit 90, and the Lions fell, 3-0, eliminating them from the NCAA tournament and ending their 2015 season with a record of 13-4-4, while the Ephs move on to face Stevens Institute of Technology.
Moving forward, Goldman thinks the team needs to focus on staying a complete unit.
“We now need to focus on staying close as a team and preparing for spring season,” Goldman said. “We are going to continue to do our workouts and come back for the 2016 season hopefully as a better team. We’re gonna learn from this season and move on together as a team.”