Pioneers open conference play on high note


Jim McLaughlin, Sports Editor 

The Utica College women’s lacrosse team put together a dominating performance against Elmira College last Saturday in its first Empire 8 Conference game of the season, winning 16-8.

The Pioneers beat Morrisville State College earlier in the week 9-8 and were looking to keep the momentum going at home. Senior Colleen Dowling set the tone for UC as she scored the first goal of the game less than three minutes into the contest.

UC had a commanding five-goal lead not even halfway through the first half. Freshmen Katlyn Scarpinella and Mary Stuhlman each scored a goal, while sophomore Brooke Miller scored two goals of her own.

Junior Rebecca Plunkett continued to show off her talent from the Morrisville State game by scoring three of her four goals in the first half. Senior Courtney Wheeler added two of her three goals in the first half as well and Dowling added another goal.

Plunkett scored 10 goals for the Pioneers last week, including tying her season-high with five goals against Morrisville State. She currently leads the team with 25 goals on the season and is fifth in the Empire 8, averaging 3.13 goals per game.

“Becca has a great impact all over the field for us including scoring,” senior Lisa Howden said. “Her hunger to win sets the tone for us as a whole and her ability to work so well with everyone on our team makes her that much more of a threat.”

The Pioneers finished the first half leading 11-3 against the Soaring Eagles. Senior Kells Casey played only the first half and finished the day with six saves in net. Casey has won four games between the pipes and has 41 saves so far this season. She is currently third in the Empire 8 in saves per game. Despite an injury, Casey has proven to be an important key to the Pioneers’ success early on, and her teammates have noticed.

“Kells is a driven player on our team,” senior Briana Estabrook said. “She always wanted to play, and she is extremely devoted and it shows every day. I am very happy that she is a part of this team.”

The Pioneers scored five more goals in the second half to take a commanding 16-3 lead. However, Elmira came back with five goals of their own in the final minutes of the game to cut the lead, but it wasn’t enough to win. Even though UC won by eight goals, the team feels like there are still some improvements they need to make for the remainder of the season.

“Every day is a learning experience and we strive to learn from our mistakes,” Estabrook said. “We hope that with every game, practice and workout we are learning new ways to improve ourselves so that we can have the best end results.”

UC currently has a 5-3 overall record and a 1-0 record in the Empire 8. The Pioneers will host St. John Fisher College on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Cardinals are currently 7-0 on the season, which will be a tough task for UC, but after winning the last two games they look to carry the momentum into Saturday.

“This will definitely be a tough game for us but if we play the way we are capable of playing and play together we will be unstoppable,” Howden said. “Going into this game with confidence will be key for us but believing we can do it and playing with heart will get us to where we want to be.”

Featured image; Pioneers win big to start conference play. Photo taken by Jeff Pexton.