By Matt Noonan
NORTH ANDOVER, MA – It’s been a few years since Jen Fallon’s squad had earned a victory against Merrimack College’s women’s lacrosse team.
In 2010 and 2011, New Haven lost to the Warriors twice – both in the regular and postseason, but this year, the Chargers finally snapped their two-year drought with a convincing 18-8 victory on Saturday afternoon at Martone-Mejail Field.
“This [was] a big game for us. Merrimack’s beaten us four times in the last two years, so we’re really happy to come in here and get a good win against a good team,” Fallon said.
The win propels New Haven to their best start since 2009 – the year the Chargers lost in the Div. II national championship match.
“We’ve had a tough past with them,” said New Haven senior Sarah Magnone. “We haven’t had the best games against them, and so it’s sort of been an emotional and physical game for us, and I think that was probably the hardest thing to overcome was emotionally and physically trying to play a good game.”
Seniors Ashley Ferrandiz and Alexis Gabbe jumpstarted New Haven’s offense with three quick strikes before Merrimack’s sophomore Tyler Szymanski tallied the Warriors first goal at 23:43.
New Haven responded roughly 30 seconds later when Magnone netted her first goal of the afternoon, which provided the Chargers enough momentum to net an additional six more strikes, and enter their dressing room with a 10-3 advantage.
“That’s something that we wanted to do was to sort of jump on quick and not really give them a chance,” said Fallon. “They were scrappy, and we didn’t want to let them get on a run, so we were lucky that our defense played so well and gave our offense a couple chances to sort of figure things out.”
“[The first half] was definitely a lack of intensity [because] we tend to take it for granted because we look around and know that we have a lot of strength on the field, and again, it promotes a little bit of laziness,” said Merrimack head coach Corinne Baker.
The Chargers continued their offensive firepower once the second half began, as Ferrandiz, junior Natalie Lieberman and sophomore Nicole McKee each deposited the ball into the Warriors net, which provided New Haven with a comfortable 13-3 lead.
Junior Liz Greeley and senior Colleen Strachan answered for Merrimack, but the two quick tallies wasn’t enough to mount a comeback, as New Haven answered with their 14th goal by freshman Kathryn Campbell, which sealed the Chargers fifth consecutive victory of the season.
“This has certainly been like getting the monkey off the back,” Fallon said of her team’s fifth victory. “They’re a good team, so we’re happy to get out of here [with the win] and we’ve got the real heart of our season coming up – some more tough games just like this one, so it’s a good start for us.”
“I think overall [our] offense came together and we took advantage of Merrimack’s faults and that gave us a big lead as a team,” said a smiling Magnone.
As for Merrimack, this particular loss marks their third consecutive of the season.
“There are some positives, [and] the positives are that we made enough mistakes, [so] now we can officially start learning from them. It was a tough, tough conference game we dropped,” said Baker.
The head coach continued by saying, “We need to trust each other as a team [because] we have a lot of talented players that kind of all want to do it their selves, and that’s just going to drop more and more games, so they’ll have the day off [on Sunday] and that’s exactly what I’ll focus on starting Monday.”
Merrimack will attempt to snap their three-game losing streak on Tuesday, Mar. 27 when they travel to Springfield, Massachusetts to face American International.