By Matt Noonan
NORTON, MA – Smith College and Wheaton College each punched their ticket to Sunday’s ECAC Div. III/New England women’s lacrosse championship, as both schools defeated their semi-final opponent on Saturday at Keefe Field.
Smith College 22, Lasell College 18: Paced by sophomore Becky Bracken, (nine goals, two assists) and senior Meaghan Fileti, (five goals), the Pioneers ballooned a 13-6 halftime advantage into a four point victory.
Bracken, who led the team with six ground balls, was the catalyst for the Pioneers offense, as she won 14 draws at the face-off line, which resulted in 22 strikes in 60 minutes.
“It’s pretty much crucial to getting the balls, controlling the draw controls, and so just adapting to what’s going on, and realizing just how to get it,” said Bracken.
Fileti added, “I think the draw control [was] really key to our success today, and Becky does a great job of boxing out, and she won it and she played hard and that was really important to us.”
Smith jumped out to a quick two-goal lead before Lasell rallied off two back-to-back strikes to tie the game at 2 at 25:04.
Bracken responded a few minutes later, as the sophomore midfielder jumpstarted Smith’s attack with a 3-0 run followed by a 5-0 run late in the first half, which provided the Pioneers with a seven point cushion at the break, as well as a lead that they never relinquished.
“[We were] really just keeping the pace really fast,” Bracken explained of Smith’s 13 goal first half. “We worked really hard this past week on transitions, and it really clearly showed.”
Smith padded their lead early in the second with an unassisted strike by Bracken, and goal from freshman Mckenzie Hessel before Lasell junior Ashley Slattery, (nine goals, two-assists) sparked a 4-0 run for the Lasers.
The Pioneers answered by netting seven additional tallies in a 16-minute span, as well as relied on their defense to fend off a few various runs by the Lasers to preserve their 10th win of the season.
“We played really well, and we capitalized on our opportunities,” said Fileti.
Wheaton College 20, Framingham State 6: The Lyons registered 10 tallies in less than 12 minutes, and never looked back, as Wheaton earned a spot in the ECAC title game for the first time in school history.
Senior Hailey Coburn and sophomore Charlotte DeSantis combined for 10 goals and four assists in the win, while junior netminder Stephanie Hoomis recorded two saves between the pipes.
“We knew we had to come out here, and beat Framingham. We knew we couldn’t underestimate them, and [for] the past two weeks we’ve been working on our game,” said Coburn. “Coach said before the game [that] it was going to take our 100 percent, [along with] everyone to win it, and just focus on us, so we [could] get to tomorrow, which we did.”
“We had to come out, and play like we’ve always played, which is like hard, tough, [and] act like a family,” said DeSantis.
Wheaton netted 14 of 18 goals in the first half, and solidified their lead with a 4-0 run late in the second, as DeSantis started the rally, which concluded with junior Elizabeth Hickey’s only goal of match.
“This is my second to last game, but it’s this team, we actually made history today. Our team’s never been to the ECAC championship, the program, so it was kind of a chance for everyone, non-starters, starters to come together,” said Coburn. “As a captain, [and] as a leader, I really wanted to get everyone going, and fuel the fire, and get ready for tomorrow.”
“Today was all about the team effort because our awards for our conference have already come out, so all we’re working for is – as a team collectively, to win this tournament,” said DeSantis.