by Tom Utescher
Although the Chestnut Hill College women never held the lead during a March 28 conference lacrosse match at Philadelphia University, the Griffins had the score tied three times and didn’t let the host Lady Rams breathe easy until the final horn sounded on a 14-11 Philly U. victory.
“I have girls who are fighters and we never give up for a second,” stated first-year CHC head coach Katie Lee, whose Griffins have come from behind in several of their victories this season. “Even when they went up by three with a minute and 17 seconds left, we were still trying to fight back.
“They were second in the conference and we were third, so we were hoping to get into that second spot today,” Lee added. “We’ll see them again at our place, though.”
The Lady Rams improved to 3-3 overall and 3-0 in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference, and Chestnut Hill slipped to 3-4, 2-2. CHC sophomore Nicole Covella and Philly U. freshman Emily Ray each chalked up four goals to lead their respective squads in scoring. In goal, the Lady Rams’ Cory Lombardo secured the victory with six saves, while the Griffins got nine stops from junior Jenn Delahanty.
CHC played without one of its defensive mainstays, sophomore Nicole Ehrhardt, who was attending to a personal matter.
Throughout the match, the Lady Rams would forge ahead and the visitors would battle back into contention. In a little over five minutes the hosts jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but by the middle of the period markers by senior Jillian Sanger, Covella, and junior Kelly McKay tied it up for Chestnut Hill. The tally was tied again at 4-4 and 6-6, but with 26 seconds to go in the opening period Philly U. gained a 7-6 halftime lead as an assist by Andi Sacarro found scorer Kalin Hodel right in front of the Griffins cage.
The Lady Rams’ momentum carried over into the second half, with Saracco scoring in the opening minute and Ray and Taylor Peltzer following suit to make it 10-6. With 18:40 left to play CHC sophomore Lindsay Alexander appeared to snap the string with a goal for the Griffins, but she was called for a dangerous follow-through and the goal was negated.
Instead, Ray scored again to put Philly U. up by five (11-6) with 17:35 left to play.
“Their double teams were very good and we struggled a little bit,” admitted CHC’s Lee. “We didn’t get off as many shots as they did.”
However, the Griffins began to draw fouls on some of those Lady Ram double teams, leading to some free-position shots.
With 15 minutes to go Covella cashed in on the first of these opportunities, netting the visitors their first point of the second half. Just over two minutes later, Alexander drove to the crease and scored to make it 11-8. Lombardo, the Lady Rams’ keeper, foiled a shot by CHC’s McKay as she looped out from behind the cage, but on another Covella free position, a low shot by the sophomore went in off of Lombardo, and the gap was cut to two goals (11-9) with 9:40 to play.
With five minutes left Sacarro scored the home team’s 12th goal of the day, but CHC answered 40 seconds later, as Covella once again made good on a free-position shot. Philly U. went up on the attack, then a loose ball near the goal was scooped up by the visitors’ Alexander, who got off an outlet pass to Sanger. The Griffins’ senior captain romped two-thirds the length of the field to score, making it a one-point game with 3:02 on the clock.
The Lady Rams seized the subsequent draw and soon led 13-11 thanks to a successful drive by sophomore Kelly Morgan. With 1:40 to go Chestnut Hill’s Alexander knocked down a Philly U. pass and the Griffins attacked, but turned the ball back over with an offsides violation. The Lady Rams scored in transition for the game’s final goal, with Ray ringing up her fourth of the day off a feed from Peltzer with 1:17 on the clock.
“We still need to iron out some kinks,” the Griffins’ Lee said afterwards. “We’re a very young team in terms of experience; I only have five girls who have played lacrosse for more than two years.”