Jim McLaughlin, Sports Editor
The Utica College women’s lacrosse team came up short against conference opponent and nationally ranked No. 15 St. John Fisher on Saturday, losing 8-2.
The Cardinals snapped the Pioneers’ three-game winning streak and held UC to just two goals. Senior Courtney Wheeler scored the first goal of the game midway through the first half to give the Pioneers the lead. However, the Cardinals responded just over a minute later to tie the game back up 1-1. St. John Fisher was able to sneak two more goals by senior Kells Casey to take the 3-1 lead into halftime.
The Pioneers were only down by two goals and head coach Kristin St. Hilaire was pleased with the way her team was executing.
“We were playing poised, in control, and we stuck to our game plan,” St. Hilaire said of her team’s first half play. “We were slowing the game down and playing smart, which is what we wanted to do.”
The Cardinals made adjustments at halftime that were the difference-maker in the game. They scored five more goals to spread themselves out from the Pioneers and it gave them an 8-1 lead with under ten minutes to play. Wheeler was able to tack on another goal for UC, but it wouldn’t end up being enough as the game ended 8-2 in favor of the Cardinals.
“They [St. John Fisher] picked up the pace of the game,” St. Hilaire said. “They played faster in the second half and we were struggling in transition, which caught up to us. There were times where we weren’t set on defense and they took advantage of it.”
Wheeler scored both goals for the Pioneers and she has 23 goals so far this season. She is second on the team in points with 26 (23 goals and three assists). Casey finished with three saves in the game and came out of the game with under ten minutes in regulation. Sophomore Amanda Lupo replaced Casey for the remainder of the contest and made two saves.
“Kells played well, she is our go-to girl and she did well throughout,” St. Hilaire said. “We wanted to give Lupo a chance to see what she could do against good competition like Fisher.”
Although the Pioneers lost the game, the team is pleased with how they performed and played throughout the course of the game.
“I’m really happy with the way the team played this weekend,” senior Briana Estabrook said. “We really went out there and played our game. We hustled a lot and it shows in the stats and on the field. I couldn’t be any happier with the way we played.”
St. John Fisher is currently 8-0 on the season and ranked No. 15 nationally. Despite the loss to the Cardinals, it showed that the Pioneers are able to compete with top-notch competition.
“The loss against Fisher showed that we can run with any other team in our conference,” Wheeler said. “That is the best team in our conference, which will show us a promising, positive outlook on the upcoming games.”
UC is currently 6-4 and 1-1 in conference play so far this season. The team had an entire week of rest to prepare for its next game. The Pioneers will host conference opponent Stevens Institute of Technology on Saturday at 1 p.m.
“We are all very excited about our game on Saturday against Stevens,” Wheeler said. “It’s going to be our senior game which is bittersweet, but after a full week of practice, we are going to work out the little things that will help us out in our upcoming game.”
Featured image; Senior Courtney Wheeler scored both goals for the Pioneers in UC’s 8-2 loss to St. John Fisher on Saturday. Photo by Jeff Pexton.