Women’s Lacrosse Opening Nailbiter Sets High Bar for Upcoming Season


Photo Courtesy of OC Athletics

College second-year Bette Imhoff.

Third-year varsity women’s lacrosse player Ali Wessel looked forward to returning to the field this spring after being sidelined the previous season due to an ACL tear. She did not expect, however, to return and play in some of the most memorable games of her lacrosse career.

“I think it was the most exciting game I’ve ever played in — ever,” she said of the Yeowomen’s season opener last Saturday.

The Yeowomen trailed behind their opponents for the majority of the game. Wessel sparked the competition with a goal less than a minute after the clock started, but Oberlin soon trailed its opponents after Hope College scored six consecutive goals. However, thanks to a late game surge, the team was able to ultimately beat Hope 14–13.

“It was a shock,” said College third-year Tess Siciliano. “Our coach addressed minuscule corrections [at halftime] that we knew we were doing. We also figured out our defense in the second half; our goalie Maranda Philips made [around] 10 saves in a row to shut [Hope] down. Once we reached 11–13, we realized we could possibly win this game.”

The Yeowomen eventually snagged an equalizer with a few minutes to go. With just seconds left on the clock, College second-year Bette Imhoff managed to clinch the victory when she netted her fifth goal of the game just as the buzzer went off.

“Getting the game-winning goal was definitely the highlight of my lacrosse career,” wrote Imhoff in an email to the Review. “I wasn’t aware of how much time was left on the clock I definitely should’ve [been], but I was so focused on playing that I didn’t have a lot of emotions going through my head before I shot. However, after that ball went in, I lost it and went ballistic. There’s no better feeling than running into your team’s arms and being able to celebrate everyone’s hard work. It still feels unreal to me and makes me excited for the rest of our season.”

Wessel also explained that the team had high spirits after the game, and she hopes they will carry that energy into the rest of the season.

“[The win] gives us a lot of confidence,” said Wessel. “If we can get out of this situation and pull out a win, then we can really do anything. This shows us not to get down on ourselves and to keep pushing forward.”

Despite the team undergoing a number of personnel changes, the Yeowomen have high hopes for this season. The team is without the efforts of four newly graduated players from last season, but they added seven new first-years and five members of the Oberlin’s varsity field hockey team to their current roster.

“This year, we lost many strong and talented seniors from the year before and other players due to injuries, but it’s been a positive reinforcement for many players to step up as leaders and athletes,” wrote Imhoff. “I think for our first time playing as a team we did very well, especially with the incredible comeback, but we definitely have specific things we need to work on. This particular game reflected every player’s character on the team. It doesn’t matter if we lose. What matters the most is that at the end of the game we can all attest that we gave it our all and left everything we had on the field.”

Wessel explained that the team possesses the most talent she has seen during her time at Oberlin, but will need to work on navigating the field as a more cohesive unit.

“It’s really interesting to bring in a whole new set of people into the team,” she said. “They all have such great energy and they’re so willing to learn. I honestly think, the more the merrier [adds] to team spirit. … We have a lot of talent on this team, but working to put it together as a unit is an important [goal] for this season.”

Last year, the team went 6–9 and made it to the North Coast Athletic Conference semifinals, where they fell to Denison University — who would go on to win the entire conference title. The Yeowomen also welcomed the arrival of a new head coach, Kim Russell, who has implemented various new strategies to promote wellness, focusing just as strongly on the athletes’ emotional and mental well-being as their physical well-being.

“It was definitely hard at first to adapt to her style of play and teachings, but it’s worked out really well,” Siciliano said. “I think we will have a very good season with her.”

This weekend, the team will travel to Tennessee to compete against Sewanee: The University of the South on Saturday and Roanoke College on Sunday. Their first NCAC competition will be next Wednesday at home against Baldwin Wallace University.