Women’s lacrosse fell out of conference tournament contention on Tuesday with a 14-13 loss to the Denison University Big Red. The Ladies (8-4; NCAC 2-4) lost on Saturday as well, a 15-12 defeat at the hands of the Oberlin College Yeowomen (9-5; 4-2). With these two close losses in the books, Kenyon now stands in seventh place in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC).
Kenyon and Denison (8-5; 5-0) traded goals in the first half, and the Ladies went into halftime with a 7-6 lead. Denison came out of the gate in the second half with two quick goals, but soon after Kat Englert ’18 and Jane Symmes ’16 led Kenyon on a furious 5-0 run, with two goals from Englert and three from Symmes in the span of six minutes.
With under 20 minutes left in the contest, Kenyon’s offense stagnated. The Ladies scored just once more, a free position goal by Cassie Hudson-Heck ’19 to make the score 13-9. In just 15 seconds, Denison responded with a goal and launched their comeback. In the stands, Kenyon fans fell silent with every Big Red goal and groaned when Denison tied the game.
Six minutes remained. The Ladies turned to Symmes and she delivered, controlling the ball in Kenyon’s most important faceoff of the year. She pushed forward to set up the Ladies’ attack. A few passes later and the ball ended up in the webbing of Allie McLane’s ’17 stick. Her shot bounced off the post, the defense cleared the ball and Denison’s Lizzy Pellicane sprinted down the field to score what would be the game-winner.
In the loss, Englert scored six goals, Symmes five and Hudson-Heck two. Despite the game’s finish, the Ladies felt they played well and took the loss with the same composure they have displayed all season.
“It was probably our best game of the season,” Lauren Earls ’16 said. “That we can hang with a team like that and come within one goal of them, we were all very happy with that.”
The Ladies play two more conference games, and if they win both, they will finish 4-4 in the NCAC. The top four seeds in the conference make the NCAC tournament, so the Ladies would need the current fourth, fifth, and sixth seeds — Wittenberg University (9-3; 3-2), DePauw University (5-8; 3-2) and the College of Wooster (9-4; 2-3), respectively — to finish the season with fewer than four conference wins and push Kenyon to the fourth seed.
Kenyon also holds the tiebreaker over DePauw, thanks to an 18-5 home win over DePauw on April 9, meaning DePauw could finish with four wins and still drop below Kenyon.
But even in Kenyon’s best-case scenario, the remaining NCAC schedule mathematically eliminates the Ladies from playoff contention. Wittenberg, DePauw or Wooster will finish at 4-4 or better and take the fourth seed. The tiebreaker with DePauw could not give the Ladies a postseason bid either. DePauw must lose its final game of the season against Wittenberg to finish 4-4, but doing so would give Wittenberg a 4-4 record as well. Wittenberg beat Kenyon in March, so they would claim the tiebreaker and the fourth seed.
Despite the disappointing end to its postseason aspirations, the team can hang its hat on successes elsewhere. This season has seen records broken, careers celebrated and friendships formed in a team culture every player loves to praise.
“We’ve fought really hard in some games, and in some games we just know we haven’t done our best,” McLane said. “We’ll hold each other accountable for all that. We know how to have a good time, but we also know how to focus.”
In a season of just eight conference games, luck determines winning and losing as much as anything else. Though the Ladies lucked out of this year’s tournament, they have lucked into a team they all love to represent on and off the field. The Ladies travel to play Allegheny College (7-6; 3-1) on Saturday, and return home for their final game of the season against Hiram College (4-9; 0-4) on Wednesday, April 27.