EASTON, Pa. - Entering the final weekend of the 2012 season, the Lafayette women's lacrosse team was preparing to face Holy Cross for a chance at extending its season in the Patriot League Tournament. A heartbreaking 8-7 loss left a bitter taste in their mouths and was used as extra motivation and experience for Saturday's one-game playoff with Colgate in Hamilton, N.Y.
"It's fantastic, in a way, that we're in the same situation as last year," head coach Alison Fisher said in an interview on Friday afternoon. "Our kids were able to get the experience of having the pressure and expectation to win in a postseason environment."
That extra experience and motivation proved important and a major key to success as the Leopards went on the road and punched their ticket to the Patriot League Tournament with a 9-7 victory. Lafayette returns to the tournament for the first time since 2004 and will face Navy on Friday, April 26 in the semifinals at 5 p.m. in Annpolis, Md.
"Today was really big day for our program," Fisher added after the win. "To earn our way back into the Patriot League Tournament after nine years is a significant accomplishment and one that we have been aspiring towards since the current seniors committed to Lafayette. Our team has persevered through a lot of ups and downs this spring and they played one of their best games today against Colgate. The opportunity to play in the postseason is a very exciting one and we are focused on making the most of it."
Junior Laura Kleiber came up with three huge goals to lead the game in the scoring department. Classmate Ana White chipped in with two goals and an assist offensively, while also picking up eight draw controls and three ground balls. Seniors Addie Godfrey and Jessica Rothstein added a goal and an assist each.
Colgate's Amanda O'Sullivan headed the Raiders' attack with two goals, while Lauren Gorajek added a score and two assists. The Raiders edged Lafayette in the shots category, 24-18, but junior goalkeeper Meghan Curtin came up with six saves on the day to stifle the Colgate offense. Additionally, Colgate held the advantage in ground balls, 17-13, while Lafayette took 12 of the 18 draw controls.
After the initial five-minute feeling-out period, Kleiber notched the first tally of the game with an unassisted score with 24:56 on the clock. Rothstein backed her up with another score just over five minutes later to put Lafayette on top early, 2-0, at the 19:29 mark.
A period of 14:05 without a goal finally ended as Colgate's Kate Sheridan tallied the first score for the Raiders and sparked a three-goal run as they took the lead, 3-2, with 3:28 left in the half.
Lafayette's Ana Drehwing notched just her second goal of the year on a feed from White to tie the game with 0:58 to play and White slotted a pass from Godfrey into the back of the net at the 0:19 mark to send the game into halftime with the Leopards on top, 4-3.
Coming out in the second, Colgate did not take long to tie the game up as Alison Flood beat Curtin at the 26:52 mark to knot the game at five.
Back-to-back goals from Kleiber with 24:58 and 24:31 to play gave the Leopards the two-goal cushion and a lead they would never relinquish. Colgate's Gorajek cut the lead to one with a tally at the 23:23 mark, but White and Leto came right back to extend it to three, 8-5, with 19:14 remaining.
Jenna Frost brought Colgate within two with a score at the 8:44 mark, but the Lafayette defense stood tall for the remainder of the game, running out the clock on the Raiders season and coming away with the 9-7 victory.
Both semifinal games of the Patriot League Tournament will be played on Friday, April 26 at 5 p.m. and 7:45 p.m., while the championship game will be held on Sunday, April 28 at noon in Annapolis, Md.
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