Women’s lax stays in conference tournament hunt


Jim McLaughlin, Sports Editor 

The Utica College women’s lacrosse team swept the weekend on the road with victories over conference opponents Houghton College and Alfred University Saturday and Sunday.

The Pioneers’ first stop was to Houghton on Saturday afternoon for another Empire 8 matchup.

Freshman standout Katlyn Scarpinella scored the first goal for the Pioneers to get them on the board and tie the game 1-1. Rebecca Plunkett continued to display her talent and scored the following goal to give the Pioneers a 2-1 lead.

Houghton was able to hang around in the first half, but the Pioneers entered halftime up 4-2.

The rest of the game was all UC, as they outscored Houghton 11-2 in the second half. Senior Courtney Wheeler led the way for the Pioneers as she tallied six points in the second half, scoring four goals and adding two assists.

Wheeler has proven to be a key factor in UC’s offense as she has scored two goals or more in the last eight games. Wheeler credits her tenacity as the reason why she has been doing so well.

“I think my tenacity has helped me gain some confidence in driving and cutting towards the cage,” she said. “It helps with getting others involved as well, by finding them open in the middle of the eight meter and feeding them the ball.”

The Pioneers beat Houghton 15-4. However, they needed to stay focused as they had to travel to Alfred the following day. UC carried the momentum from the second half of the Houghton game into the Alfred game as they led 12-3 after the first half.

UC scored the first 12 goals of the game and the first seven goals in ten minutes. Dowling and Plunkett each had three goals apiece in the first half. Freshmen Mary Stuhlman and Noelle Capriglione each scored two goals as well to finish the first half and Stuhlman finished with a season-high three goals.

Plunkett added another goal in the second half and led the team with four goals at the end of regulation. Alfred continued to fight the rest of the game, as they held UC to just five goals and they scored four of their own. The Pioneers came away with another Empire 8 victory, defeating the Saxons 17-7.

The two wins over Houghton and Alfred were a complete team effort.

“We all played together as a team and put together what we have been working on all season,” Wheeler said. “Our shots were on, especially against Alfred, and passes were connecting.”

The two wins from the weekend not only snapped a two-game losing streak, but it also spread the Pioneers out from other teams in the Empire 8. UC currently has a 3-2 conference record and an 8-5 overall record. They are tied for fourth place in the Empire 8 with Nazareth College. The weekend sweep puts the Pioneers in a position to contend for a bid to the conference tournament.

“In terms of postseason, the two wins only helped us. This weekend allowed us to set ourselves apart from a majority of the teams in our conference,” senior Mary Morgan Marafino said. “With those wins we are tied with Nazareth in the Empire 8 standings, so if we can come out with a couple more big wins, there’s no doubt we would be playing in the tournament come May.”

The Pioneers travel to Ithaca College on Sunday and the Bombers are currently undefeated in conference so far this season. However, UC is confident and determined to play a hard fought game against Ithaca come Sunday afternoon.

“Ithaca is going to be a huge game for us,” Marafino said. “We know that we can compete with them and if we play to our full capability, we can absolutely come away with a win.”

Featured image; Senior Colleen Dowling scored one goal against Houghton and added three more against Alfred as the UC women’s lacrosse team picked up two conference wins over the weekend. Photo by Jeff Pexton.