CLAREMONT, Calif. – Composure, depth, and ball control have been the recurring theme for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's lacrosse team this season. After going undefeated in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference this season, the Athenas (14-1, 10-0) are ready to have an opportunity at a Pool B berth in the NCAA Tournament as they open up the SCIAC Tournament as the No. 1 seed.
Last season, CMS finished 13-4 overall and 8-3 in the SCIAC, taking second place in the conference. Despite high hopes to going to the NCAA Tournament, the Athenas fell to Chapman in the semifinal round, abruptly ending their season. The tough ending to last season has brought out the best from CMS as the team managed to win all but one game on the schedule and outscore its opponents 231-88.
Senior Cara Cancelmo (CMC) will be commandeering a talented midfield comprised of juniors Katie Hill (CMC) and Evan Murphy (CMC), freshman Luisa Valles (CMC), and freshman Juliana Clark (CMC). These players have been important to the Athenas' success in dominating possession, causing turnovers, and giving CMS a smooth transition from defense to offense. Their ability to move the ball one step ahead of the opposing defense has given their attackers the freedom to operate near the net. The five players combine for 104 caused turnovers and 147 ground balls this season. Hill's younger sister, freshman Allie Hill (CMC), is another valuable member of the midfield this season, protecting the ball and aiding the offense with 20 goals and 13 assists this season.
Freshman Emily Cohen (CMC) has been revelation for the Athenas, leading the team in goals scored with 35 in her debut season. With keen awareness of positioning and reading the defense, Cohen excelled in setting herself opportunities to score. Sophomore Corie Hack (CMC) finished the season second in scoring behind Cohen with 31 goals, but has brought a spark to the offense not visible on the stat sheet. Her excellent stick control has helped the Athenas keep possession on offense and her presence alone drew double teams, opening up room for her teammates. Junior Lauren Clubb (CMC) has served as a valuable catalyst to the Athenas' offense, leading the team with 20 assists and scoring 19 goals. The selfless attacked has a knack of threading accurate passes and finding her teammates at the perfect time to get the team on the board.
The reserves have proven to be a key strength for the Athenas, especially on the offensive end, as several members not only do a solid job filling in for the resting members, but also adding a new dimension to the attack. Freshman Hannah Graves (CMC) has emerged as the team's sparkplug off the bench, making open cuts towards the net while being unnoticed by the defense to score easy goals. She also has been key in drawing away defenders to free up her teammates. Senior Zoe Pinczower (CMC) has given opposing defenses fits with her speed, giving the Athenas a weapon on the wing.
Standing in their way in the semifinal round is the University of Redlands (9-7, 4-6), whom the Athenas have beaten in their last two meetings during the regular season. Coming into the SCIAC Tournament as a No. 4 seed, the Bulldogs will be counting on Hanna Morford to lead the offense after she led the team with 49 goals this season. Assisting Morford on the attack is Dulce Moll who led the team with 20 assists to go with 23 goals and Sadie Pickering who found the net 40 times. Goalkeeper Quinn Egan will be tasked with containing the CMS offense after collecting 167 saves and 54 groundballs this year.
On the other side of the SCIAC semifinals, Occidental College (11-5, 5-5) will be playing against Chapman University (10-6, 7-3) on April 29 at 7 p.m. Coming in as a No. 3 seed, Occidental will be hoping that third time is the charm after losing to the Panthers twice during the regular season. Freshman star Alessandra Peliccia has led the Tigers with 62 goals this season while her teammate Sierra Slack contributed 53 goals and 18 assists. The speedy Kallyn Song-Nichols will also be counted on to provide spacing for the Tigers' attack and creating scoring opportunities for her teammates.
The Panthers have had a fairly strong season, but stumbled in the final stretch after losing to CMS 20-1 followed by an upset 15-13 loss to Whittier College. Chapman will be looking to regroup in the playoffs and play its best in the elimination round. Led by star Becka Wachtel who scored 39 goals this season, the Panthers will need other members to provide a spark on offense.
The Athenas will be hosting the semifinal this Saturday, April 29 at Zinda Field against University of Redlands. The game will be free of charge for all fans and will start at 11 a.m.
By Young Kim
Sports Information Assistant
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