Section: Sports

Seniors spearhead Ladies’ drive to NCAC tournament

Seniors spearhead Ladies’ drive to NCAC tournament

The Kenyon women’s lacrosse team gathers on Mavec Field during their first conference match, a game against Wittenberg University on March 26. Courtesy of Kenyon Athletics

Ladies lacrosse celebrated twice Saturday — once for their first North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) win of the season, and once for their seniors, Lauren Earls, Kelley Russell and Jane Symmes, on a chilly Senior Day in Gambier.

Snow flurries and whipping winds welcomed Kenyon (8-2; NCAC 2-2) and the DePauw University Tigers (2-8; NCAC 1-2) to McBride Field, but nothing could deter the Ladies.

“We had a ton of fans, a ton of family there,” Russell said. “Especially coming off a week of straight practice, we were all ready to play.” The weather worsened, curtains of snow blowing sideways at times during the second half, but Kenyon started hot from the opening face-off and stayed hot through the final whistle.

Two minutes into the match, the Ladies struck first with a goal by Kat Englert ’18. Within 10 minutes, Kenyon held a 6-0 lead and Englert had already scored three goals. DePauw would go on to score its first goal shortly afterward, but more often than not Kenyon’s defense, helmed by veteran defender Earls, repelled the Tigers’ athletic attack. Goalkeeper Allie Dumas ’18 stymied the few shots that broke through Kenyon’s defense, making six saves on the day.

The Ladies allowed just five DePauw goals, an emphatic return to defensive form after a disappointing loss against the College of Wooster (8-4; NCAC 2-3) on April 2. On the other side of the field, Kenyon’s attackwomen and midfielders connected for a regular firestorm of goals. Seven Ladies scored, led by Englert’s seven goals. Meanwhile, Allie McLane ’17 led all players with four assists. With both offense and defense firing on all cylinders, the Ladies walked away with an 18-5 win, despite the best efforts of both the Tigers and the snow.

For the three seniors, Saturday’s win was a step toward goals they set in their first year on the team. They met in 2012 and the following spring heped the Ladies bulldoze through conference play and win the NCAC championship. “The feeling after that win on our home field. It set the standard for the rest of our time here,” Earls said.

Since then, other members of the class of 2016 have come and gone, but only Earls, Russell and Symmes have played all four years.

They complement each other about as well as teammates could hope. Russell leads the attack and Earls anchors the defense, while Symmes hustles, scrambles and wreaks havoc in the midfield.

The seniors are also serving as the team’s captains this season, working double-time to lead the team to their postseason goals. “They’ve stepped up and taken on a lot of responsibility that has really surpassed what I think lots of other captains have had to take on,” Englert said.

Their work is paying dividends; players have praised the team’s supportive culture since the beginning of the season. Trust in one another has kept the Ladies resilient in the face of tough losses. The team atmosphere has been important for bringing the first-year players into the fold.

“When I got here, I felt 100 percent part of the team,” Cassie Hudson-Heck ’19 said. The openness helped her adjust to a starting role as she learned the tactics and tendencies of her teammates on offense, according to Hudson-Heck.

As they prepare for the final batch of games in their Kenyon careers, the seniors can rest assured they have contributed to a winning culture and left lasting impressions on teammates.

They will leave the team in good hands. Four juniors, Gia Biaggi, Abby Coleman, McLane and Carrie Stevens, are starters this year. Hudson-Heck scored three goals on Saturday, and her 2.67 goals per game is tied for eighth in the NCAC with Symmes. Mary Grace Detmer ’19 and Alexis Redford-Maung Maung ’19 also scored, rounding out a first-year class with serious offensive talent. And Kenyon fans everywhere can rejoice at having two sophomore standouts — Dumas, who is tied for first in the NCAC with a save percentage of 0.526, and the red-hot Englert, who leads the NCAC with 4.11 goals per game — on the field for two more years.

The Ladies played another outstanding game against Ohio Wesleyan University (6-5; NCAC 1-2) on Wednesday. Kenyon opened the game with an 8-0 run, powered by four goals from Englert and two from Symmes. OWU’s offense picked up after that, but when they scored their third goal five minutes into the second half, Symmes took control. She scored three straight goals in three minutes, all unassisted, to make the score 12-3 and seal Kenyon’s second conference win in one week.

The Ladies next play on Saturday against Oberlin College (7-5; NCAC 2-2). They played their best in the past two matchs, and they know how good they can be in the games to come. “I don’t think we’ve seen our potential,” Englert said. “I think we’ve seen a glimpse of it.”

Earls wants the team to keep its momentum going in a season that is anyone’s for the taking. “Our conference is pretty weird right now in terms of who’s winning and who’s losing,” Earls said. “Every game is kind of an unknown. I think it’ll be really fun to go into games on our toes.”


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