The last time the women’s lacrosse team faced the Mount Ida Mustangs, the game went into triple overtime, with the Lions eking out a slim 11-10 win.
When the teams met Saturday for Emerson’s season opener, the match was not nearly as close. Though the Lions only led by a goal going into halftime, a lopsided second half gave Emerson a 15-8 victory in its first contest of the season.
The two Great Northeast Athletic Conference rivals traded goals to open the game. Whenever it appeared that the Lions gained the upper hand, the Mustangs responded to even the score. Attackers Amanda Bowen and Molly Sheppard speedily cut through the Emerson defense. Bowen put Mount Ida’s first two goals on the board, both within minutes of each other.
As the game progressed, however, the Mustangs began committing foul after foul — 24 in all — and Emerson used the free position opportunities to dictate the flow of the game. Sophomore Tracie Lombardo credited the Lions’ success to their ability to take advantage of the opportunities Mount Ida presented them with.
“We got most of the ground balls and did pretty well,” Lombardo said. “The refs made some pretty good calls, and we got most of our shots on goal when we got free shots.”
After going down in the first half with a leg injury, sophomore Chelsea Phillips returned to action and converted on two free shots. The Mustangs swarmed Phillips and hacked often, but could not prevent her and her teammates from controlling the ball around the goal-mouth. The fouling came to a head when Mount Ida’s Alexandria Milot was sent to the penalty box with a yellow card a little more than three minutes remaining in the game. With the player advantage, Lombardo slammed in a dive shot to make it a rout. Lombardo finished the game with six goals to lead all players.
On the other end of the field, Emerson’s defense was nearly impenetrable, controlling loose balls and clearing any rebounds away from its goal. Head coach Megan Moore said she was pleased with her team’s ability to stymie Mount Ida’s agile attackers.
“We followed our game plan pretty well today,” said Moore, who earned her first win with Emerson since being hired last summer. “We knew that they had some key players and we were aiming to shut them down. [Bowen] had a good game, but we silenced [Sheppard], and that was our goal defensively.”
In the second half, Emerson only committed seven penalties, compared to the Mustangs’ 13. Junior goalie Emily Saeger said it was the defense’s self-control — as they focused on snatching the ball instead of attacking Mount Ida’s players — that gave Emerson the better chance to win.
“We definitely didn’t want to foul,” said Saeger. “That was one of our main goals for this game — not foul, play body, and not go for checks. We were more controlled and that helped us out keeping the ball and keeping it in the other end.”
Moore said because the Lions lack depth, maintaining discipline was of the utmost importance.
“We recognized that we have a small roster and that any type of penalty or yellow card is going to hurt us,” Moore said.
Emerson currently fields 16 players, most of them underclassmen. Top-ranked Norwich dresses 20.
After defeating Mount Ida, Emerson went on the road to play Simmons. The Lions downed the Sharks 10-7, with Lombardo scoring three goals in four minutes to put Simmons in a hole late. Mount Ida and Simmons tied for the fourth rank in the GNAC’s preseason poll. Saeger said opening the season with wins was especially beneficial.
“It helps to get the first of everything,” she said. “The first win helps set the tone, the first goal, the first draw.”