The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Women’s lacrosse ends season with loss against Navy, double OT win against Lehigh

Senior midfielder Clare Culligan takes on a Navy defender on Saturday. (Photo by Rick Smith for GoLeopards)

The women’s lacrosse team (5-11 overall, 2-7 Patriot League) ended its season this week with a 17-5 loss against the Naval Academy (13-3 overall, 7-1 Patriot League) on Saturday and an 11-10 win in double overtime against Lehigh University (7-8 overall, 3-6 Patriot League) on Wednesday night. This was the program’s first win against Lehigh since 2013.

The game against Navy was the Leopards’ last home game of the season. Before the opening buzzer, the team honored its six graduating seniors: midfielder Clare Culligan, goalkeeper Lexie Coldiron, midfielder Abby Romano, midfielder Colleen McNamara and defenders Kyra O’Driscoll and Emma Ruckh.

Each senior has left a lasting impact on the team — Romano leads the team in scoring this season with 23 goals and over 50 in her career, Culligan was just behind with 19, Coldiron is a wall in goal with 158 saves on the season and O’Driscoll had 30 ground balls and 16 caused turnovers. McNamara was nominated for the Oaksie Award, which honors a graduating senior “who has embraced community, leadership and service.”

Ruckh’s “work ethic is insane,” according to junior defender Lindsay Geiger.

At the same time, Culligan noted that younger players have evolved this season while seeing significant time on the field.

“Right now we have a bunch of younger players being developed on the team and they have been getting a lot of playing time as well,” Culligan said.

Culligan led the offense against Navy, notching a season-best three goals.

The Midshipmen tallied five goals to the Leopards’ one in each of the first three quarters. Although the Maroon and White managed to keep pace with Navy in the fourth quarter by equaling its two goals, they could not overcome the deficit.

Culligan said the team was looking to lean into its “lacrosse IQ” and close-knit chemistry in the game against the Midshipmen.

“Our game plan was to play into our strengths,” she said. “Although we didn’t have the outcome we wanted, I still think that we gave 100 percent for the entire game.”

The Leopards pulled out the most dramatic win of their season on Wednesday night, edging out Lehigh 11-10 in double overtime to end their season.

“Our coaches had said, ‘Let’s put a bow on the season,’ and I don’t think it could have been done a better way against the rival with such high intensity and that many overtimes,” McNamara said. “I think there’s just no possible better way to end our season and beat our rival and end a career.”

Junior attack Haleigh Albrecht scored the first two goals of the game to give the Leopards an early 2-1 lead after the first quarter. The Mountain Hawks came roaring back in the second quarter, scoring five goals to Lafayette’s three to take a one goal lead going into the second half.

The two teams traded blows throughout the second half. After Lehigh scored a goal to open the third quarter, sophomore attack Kristin Igneri scored two goals in two minutes and completed a hat trick for the game to level the score.

After conceding again, Culligan and Romano scored rapid-fire goals to pull ahead with 6:30 left to play. Lehigh took the lead again with two minutes left to play, but sophomore attacker Olivia Hover tied the game at 10-10 with one minute left to play to take the game to overtime.

Neither team found the back of the net in the first overtime period, but junior midfielder Sophia Spallone won the game for the Leopards with two minutes remaining in the second six-minute overtime period with an unassisted goal.

“I couldn’t think of a better person to have been able to take that last shot,” Geiger said. “I’m really happy for her. She puts in so much work all the time … I’m glad that she got to be the hero of the game.”

While Wednesday marked the end of Culligan’s competitive lacrosse career, she is grateful for her time at Lafayette and the support of her teammates and coaches.

“I’ve learned a lot through my time at Lafayette both with the successes and the failures,” Culligan said. “I have had a solid amount of injuries since I’ve been here and really having to persevere through those times has taught me so much and also having the support of my teammates through those times has meant the world to me.”

McNamara said she will remember both the challenging moments and the successes from her career at Lafayette.

“Today, I will never, ever forget tonight’s game and celebrating with the team, who are my best friends,” McNamara said.

Looking forward to next year, Geiger is hopeful that the win against Lehigh will lead to more wins in close games.

“We finally are winning these really close games,” Geiger said. “I hope, and I know, that this will translate into next year.”

Correction 4/24/24: A previous version of this article stated that the women’s lacrosse team spoiled Lehigh University’s Patriot League playoff hopes. Lehigh earned the sixth seed in the playoffs on a tiebreaker. 

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Grace Sanborn, Sports Editor

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