Women’s Lacrosse heats up at the right time

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The Occidental women's lacrosse team performs a cheer before their game against Pomona-Pitzer at Occidental College. Wednesday, April 4, 2019. Miles Koupal/The Occidental

Occidental College’s women’s lacrosse team made a major comeback in their game against Pomona-Pitzer April 10 at Jack Kemp Stadium, according to Oxy Athletics. The Tigers were down 8–2 and trailed 12–8 with 11 minutes to play in the second half before going on a 5–0 run to finish off the Sagehens, earning their biggest victory of the season 13–12. According to head coach Hannah Khin, the team came out with a lot of energy during the second half.

“Madi Hallare, a senior captain on the team, had two goals in a row that really kind of changed the game and got us onto that five-goal run,” Khin said. “I think our upperclassmen have brought so much energy and have just really been fueling the team on the field.”

Madi Hallare (senior), a midfielder, ended the game with three goals, five ground balls and one assist. Hallare said she thinks the team is hitting its peak right now.

“We had a good starting point, but I think we’ve just grown so much since our first game,” Hallare said. “It’s kind of funny watching us back on film. It’s kind of an unrecognizable team from what we were then, to what we are now. We’ve developed so much together.”

In their first game against Pomona-Pitzer Feb. 23, the Tigers lost 17–10. Hallare said being able to come back with this win against a team that she knows is so skilled felt really good.

“Everyone was cheering for each other the whole time,” Hallare said. “No one gave in. No one gave up. It sounds kind of cheesy, but no one stopped believing in themselves or each other. I think that’s why we were able to pull that one out — no one quit.”

Occidental women’s lacrosse players perform a cheer before a game against Pomona-Pitzer at Occidental College. Wednesday, April 4, 2019. Miles Koupal/The Occidental

Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) is currently the top-ranked team in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) with Occidental now ranked second.

“Our biggest goal is to win the SCIAC Championship,” Hallare said. “We have a new head coach and we really want to do that for her as well. Another goal is to keep building on this momentum we have right now. We’re kind of a brand new team in the best way right now.

According to Khin, the team has a few small areas to improve upon, such as attack working well under high pressure from other teams and more communication between defense players. Lauren Di Lella (sophomore) plays attack for the Tigers, and made a vital pass to the gamewinning shot scored by Alessandra Pelliccia (junior).

“To be a good attacker, you have to be thinking about what you’re going to be doing five steps ahead of the play that’s actually going on,” Di Lella said. “It’s definitely thinking a lot in advance, thinking how you can not only get yourself open but how you can set your teammates up to be open.”

Marie Whitmore (junior) evades defenders during a game against Pomona-Pitzer at Occidental College. Wednesday, April 4, 2019. Miles Koupal/The Occidental

Di Lella said the team has had a really strong season because they play better on the field when everyone is contributing.

“We knew going into the second half that we had to have a strong mindset and just play together to come back,” Di Lella said. “Given that we lost to Pomona the first time we played them, we knew it was going to be a really tough game. I think everyone just had a really tough mental mindset and went into the second half wanting to win.”

The Tigers have two games left in the regular season against CMS April 17 and Whittier College April 20.

“Definitely Claremont is going to be a really tough game next Wednesday, just because they’re at the top of our conference,” Khin said. “It’s just mentally knowing that we can handle them — we played really well against them the first time. I expect us to play again at that same level and hopefully we just come out with the same intensity and energy we had in our other games. Usually, whenever we do that, we’re pretty successful.”

The Tigers have secured a spot in the four-team SCIAC tournament, but will need to finish the season ahead of the Saghens to host a home playoff game, according to Oxy Athletics.

“The players are amazing, they love lacrosse and they all really want to be there,” Khin said. “It’s really fun being able to work with them. I really couldn’t ask for better student-athletes. They all love each other so I think it really makes our team environment something really fun to be around.”