Women’s lax falls in scrimmages at Dartmouth Fall Festival
By Henry Arndt
Published on Wednesday, October 17, 2012
The Ivy League-champion Dartmouth women’s lacrosse team returned to action for the first time since falling to Syracuse University in spring’s NCAA tournament, scrimmaging against the University of Massachusetts and the University of Vermont in the Dartmouth Fall Festival at Scully-Fahey Field on Sunday. The women fell to UMass, 16-9, in a regulation-length game and lost to UVM, 5-4, in a game that was half as long as usual.
The Big Green started off well against UMass, which finished last season ranked No. 14 in the country, and took a lead going into the second half.
“We played really strong for 45 minutes and then kind of lost steam a little bit,” co-captain Kelsey Johnson ’13 said. “Overall, I still feel positive about the day because it was just a matter of finishing, and we didn’t.”
Head coach Amy Patton attributed the slip in performance to a lack of preparation, as the year is still in its very early stages.
“I don’t think we were quite in the game shape we needed to be, but we will be by the start of the season,” Patton said. “For me, it’s not as much about our physical fitness but about our mental resiliency and discipline, and that’s something that’s very fixable for us.”
Immediately after competing against the Minutemen, the Big Green faced off against the Catamounts in a one-half encounter.
“UVM was a very quick half because we played with a running clock when the game usually stops at every whistle, so it was just really upbeat,” Liz Hyde ’16 said. “It was a really close half, and I think it came down to a couple draw controls. They were a pretty physical team, and on defense we were having trouble making contact.”
The first scrimmages of the fall provided the team with a chance to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses so that it can learn and progress by the spring season, which begins on Feb. 23 with a trip to the University of Oregon.
“I think it comes down to being connected on the field and helping each other out,” co-captain Courtney Bennett ’13 said. “A lot of our shortcomings came from not having the back of the person next to you, whether it was on offense or defense. Those things come as the team matures, and it would be wonderful if all of that had been in place this weekend, but by no means were we expecting that.”
The fall scrimmages also offer the chance for some of the team’s less experienced players to gain playing time before the real season begins.
“We have a lot of young players,” Patton said. “We don’t have any juniors here this term, so it’s nice to see our freshmen and sophomores get some action. I really enjoy this term because as a coach you can try out a lot of different combos.”
Under Ivy League rules, the Big Green is only allowed 12 official practices during Fall term, while other Division-I teams can begin practicing as soon as school starts. This challenges the Big Green to use each practice as efficiently as possible, Bennett said.
“We work on laying the foundation on what we want for the spring: fitness, understanding the basics and the building blocks,” she said. “It’s a time for learning and for growth, but it really requires a lot of discipline because we have 12 practices, and that’s all we have.”
Dartmouth is coming off of a historic 2012 season that included a program-first Ivy League tournament title, an NCAA tournament berth and a 12-5 overall record, highlighted by a 7-0 home record.
“We love playing at Scully-Fahey — just playing at home means a lot to us,” Johnson said. “We take a lot of pride in defending that field and not letting people come to our field and beat us.”
Last year, the team was led by Ivy League Player of the Year Sarah Plumb ’12 and a strong core of seniors. The team will need look for ways to fill the void left by these players’ graduation.
“What gets Dartmouth women’s lacrosse through and what makes great programs is great philosophy,” Bennett said. “This year, we have four classes of girls who have totally bought into the tone of Dartmouth women’s lacrosse. Our success is more a factor of our team’s personality than of the great individuals we’ve had on the team.”
The women next take the field on Tuesday in a scrimmage against Boston College at home under the lights.
“It’s not about whether we beat them but about whether we do things better than we did this weekend,” Patton said.