Hosting their first playoff game since a playoff reformatting in 2003, the Yewomen defeated the Allegheny College Gators 13–8 in the NCAC semifinals Wednesday. With the win, Oberlin punched a ticket to its second conference championship in three years, where they will face the No. 1 seeded Denison University Big Red. The Big Red are responsible for the Yeowomen’s only loss this season.
“Our coach has this favorite saying, which is ‘any given day,’” said first-year Eliza Amber, who has had a breakout rookie season. “She’s a strong believer that [on] any day one team will show up and another won’t. So at this point we’re going to focus in because we know we have the ability to beat this team. We’ve beaten them before, but we need to align ourselves together on game day.”
Amber broke the ice early in a tightly contested first half, scoring her first of four goals with 26:12 left on the clock. But the Gators bounced back, quickly tying the game at two a piece with 22:36 left in the first half. With 21:41 remaining, the Gator’s Shelby Piper put her team ahead 3–2, and the Yeowomen saw themselves trailing in the first half for the first time all season. Still, Oberlin managed to find its footing and heading to the locker-room with a 7–4 lead.
After intermission, the Yeowomen returned to form as senior Sara Phister scored her second goal of the day two minutes into the half to boost their lead to 8–4. The Gators were able to narrow the deficit to as little as 9–7, but ultimately the Yeowomen mustered a 13–8 win. Natalie Rauchle, who led the NCAC in goals this season with 60, also finished with three on the day.
“Come tournament time, all that really matters is that we get the win,” Head Coach Lynda McCandlish said. “That was exciting for us this Wednesday, to get the win the first time hosting a tournament game.”
McCandlish, who is in the midst of her fourth season as head coach, has completely revitalized the women’s lacrosse program since taking the reins. In addition to winning 2015 NCAC Coach of the year, she has mentored multiple All-NCAC athletes, including 2015 Defensive Player of the Year Alexa L’Insalata, and led the Yeowomen to their first NCAC tournament since 2000. Despite her individual success, McCandlish credits her players for the program’s transformation.
“It’s been a really cool season because the seniors started the same time I started,” McCandlish said. “The senior class has turned the program around and deserves tons of credit for the season we’ve had this year. It’s been really cool to see the growth.”
Last Saturday, the Yeowomen honored all seven seniors in a 19–8 Senior Day victory against the DePauw University Tigers.
“It’s going to be a whole new dynamic next year,” Amber said. “The seniors left us with a very strong base, they built this team. Because of them, the team is getting a name and drawing people in.”
Now, all that’s left for the Yeowomen is their NCAC tournament Championship game against Denison. It will be the first time the Yeowomen see the Big Red since having their perfect season spoiled in a 15–12 loss on April 8. The championship game will take place in Granville, Ohio, tomorrow at 1 p.m.
“We’re going to look at a lot of film,” said junior Sydney Garvis said. “We watch film and can hone in on their weaknesses and our strengths and work with this when we’re playing with them.”