Iona College outlasts women’s lacrosse despite hat tricks from Romano and Culligan

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Senior attacker Olivia Cunningham drives past an Iona College defender with her eyes on scoring. (Photo courtesy of GoLeopards)

Issy Bongiovanni, Staff Writer

The women’s lacrosse team (1-3 overall, 0-0 Patriot League) fell to Iona College 15-10 in Fisher Stadium this past Saturday at their Athlete Ally game. Athlete Ally’s national mission is to end transphobia and homophobia in athletics and to inspire the athletic community to exercise leadership in the effort of working toward LGBTQ+ equality. 

“We have some great leaders on our team like [junior defender] Anya Lucey, and she does so much for the Athlete Ally club,” sophomore midfielder Clare Culligan said. “I think it’s a really great cause, and I’m glad that we had that game to bring awareness to it. I’m really proud of her and other teammates who are involved with the club.”

In the first quarter, Iona fired three unanswered goals until junior midfielder Katie Chiasson responded with a goal at the 5:30 minute mark. Sophomore midfielder Abby Romano followed Chiasson up with another goal with less than a minute left in the first quarter to make it 3-2.

“We knew that Iona was going to be a very animated and energetic team,” Culligan said. “We went into the game knowing we had to be mentally prepared for their energy, which we actually did really well throughout the game. We just learned our systems and knew that we had to implement what we’ve been doing in practice in the game.”

The second period was filled with goals from both sides, with the Leopards gaining five points and the Gaels six. Romano kicked off the quarter by scoring her second goal of the day, followed by senior attacker Olivia Cunnigham securing her first goal shortly after. 

Junior attacker Genevieve Strobel and Culligan each scored a goal for the Maroon and White. Romano completed her hat trick, tying the game up at seven. With two minutes left in the first half, Iona responded with two goals of its own to close the half with the Leopards down 9-7. 

“Every goal that I had was assisted, so all of that really is due to our attackers, especially [Cunningham, Bennett, and McLachlan] who are great feeders. They’re always super aware, and I’m just lucky to have them looking for me on cuts and trusting me with feeds,” Culligan said. 

Culligan earned Patriot League honorable mention for these finishes on cage [combined for Iona and Binghamton game]. 

The visiting team scored the opening two goals of the second half, but Lafayette responded with Strobel and Culligan each netting a shot. The third period ended with a score of 11-9 in favor of Iona.

The Leopards were then kept scoreless in the fourth quarter until 4:54 was left in the game. It was Chiasson who finished off Lafayette’s scoring, but Iona came out on top with the final score reading 15-10.

“Sarah Bennett assisted one backdoor cut I had going to goal. Teammates like Sarah Bennett, Liv Cunningham, and Meg McLachlan who are always keeping their head up and looking to feed are just such great playmakers that we have on the team and we’re really lucky to have them,” Culligan said. 

Bennett, Romano, McLachlan and Chiasson all recorded one assist for the Maroon and White while Cunningham had two. Sophomore goalkeeper Lexie Coldrion made eleven saves. 

Lafayette dominated Iona in ground balls (17-11) and clears (18-18 to 11-12), and the two teams matched in turnovers (9-9). The Leopards trailed in shots (43-25), draw controls (19-10) and free position shots (6-11 to 3-3).

“We’re a really young team. We have multiple starters who are freshmen, so we don’t have lots of game experience, but I think the freshmen have done such a great job of not only adapting to but also contributing to the level of college play that we’re at right now,” Culligan said.

The Leopards will play next on March 16 as they face the Villanova Wildcats at home at 2 p.m.

“As we build our experience with our freshmen, and we all learn how to play together, I think we’re gonna do some really great things this season,” Culligan said.