Women’s Lacrosse Falls Short in NCAC Championship


Briana Santiago

Junior midfielder Grace Barlow sprints to catch the ball in a game against the Denison University Big Red last Saturday in Granville, Ohio. The Yeowomen fell 14–7 in what was their last game of the season.

Harrison Wollman, Staff Writer

The Denison University women’s lacrosse team offensively dominated the first half of the North Coast Athletic Conference championship against the Yeowomen last Saturday, scoring eight goals within 20 minutes and holding Oberlin to just three. The Big Red’s scoring momentum, paired with its solid defensive efforts, carried over into the second half, and the team tacked on six more goals to take home the conference title, winning 14–7.

For the Yeowomen, advancing to the conference championship was a major feat on its own. The last time Oberlin’s women’s lacrosse team advanced to the final round of the tournament was in 2000, when the Yeowomen also fell to the Big Red. The historic tension was evident from the start of last weekend’s game, with both teams remaining scoreless for the opening seven minutes in a defensive battle.

Breaking through the Yeowomen’s defensive line, Denison netted the first goal of the match in the 22nd minute to take a 1–0 lead. Just two minutes later, junior midfielder Grace Barlow responded with an unassisted goal to even the score. Barlow, who was named to the NCAC First Team on Tuesday, concludes her 2015 campaign with a career-high 53 goals, placing her fifth in the conference for goals. She said Denison’s previous playoff experience bolstered its potential to win the title entering Saturday’s event.

“Denison is an extremely confident and experienced team,” Barlow said. “They have six conference championships in the past 12 years and know exactly what it takes to win under pressure.”

Later in the first half, following three straight goals from the Big Red, sophomore attacker Marissa Maxfield scooped up a rebound on a shot attempt from sophomore attacker Sara Phister and buried her attempt to halve the deficit.

Denison responded with a goal of their own just 36 seconds later, moving the score to 6–2. Barlow was able to bring Oberlin back within three with her second goal of the game with the help of first-year midfielder Natalie Rauchle’s assist.

Every time the Yeowomen seemed to gather momentum, the Big Red were quick to respond with a goal of their own. This type of play dictated the contest, as Denison notched two more goals following Barlow’s score to send the Big Red into the half up 8–3.

The Yeowomen used halftime to make some defensive adjustments and were able to hold the Big Red scoreless for the first 20 minutes of the second half. The Yeowomen translated this defensive stand into offensive spirit, using goals from sophomore midfielder Morgan Daruwala and first-year Sydney Garvis to pull within three.

Denison finally broke its scoreless streak with just under 10 minutes remaining in the second half. After Maxfield was able to find nylon on a free-post attempt for Oberlin, the Big Red pulled away, using a string of goals to put the game out of reach.

Senior captain Kate Hanick, who was named to the NCAC All-Tournament Team, had nothing but praise for this year’s squad.

“This team has been the most driven, tenacious and cohesive of all the seasons I’ve been here,” she said. “It’s been amazing to see what strides were made in such a short amount of time.”

The NCAC honored Oberlin’s historical season with a flurry of recognitions. Second-year Head Coach Lynda McCandlish was recognized as the NCAC Coach of the Year after guiding her team to an 11–6 record, which included last week’s first round tournament upset against top-seeded Wittenberg University.

Sophomore goalkeeper Alexa L’Insalata headlined players’ awards, earning Defensive Player of the Year and First Team awards. She was joined by classmate attacker Sara Phister and junior midfielder Suzanna Doak, each honored on the NCAC’s Second Team roster. Daruwala was also recognized by the conference on the Honorable Mention list.

For seniors Hanick, Bronwen Schumacher and Jodi Helsel, the trip to the conference finals marked the conclusion of their collegiate lacrosse careers.

“Losing seniors is always hard, and this class is no exception. They’re amazing leaders, both on and off the field,” Barlow said of the graduating class.

Hanick said that this season was the icing on the cake for what has been an amazing four-year experience.

“Being a part of OC women’s lacrosse has, by far, been the most rewarding experience of my college career,” Hanick said. “Playing for four years with amazing people that I get to call my best friends, all of them, is something not many people get to say.”

Looking ahead, with five conference award winners returning and a large incoming first-year class, the team doesn’t expect to see any drop-off in performance.

Doak said she believes this will be enough to send the Yeowomen to the conference championships again next year, and next time they will take home the title.

“I think we’re going to win conference next year because that’s always our goal,” Doak said. “We came so close this year, and with the big incoming class next season, I know we have what it takes.”