CLINTON, N.Y. - Williams women's lacrosse defeated Hamilton this evening on the road 15-10 to claim their first NESCAC victory of the season. Williams improved to 5-8 on the year and 1-7 in the NESCAC, while Hamilton fell to 6-7 on the year and 4-5 in the conference.
Williams head coach Chris Mason thought the team's mentality was central to the victory. "I think our confidence was the difference in two areas," she said. "I think defensively they really believed they could do a good job on their footwork, working together to stop them and keep them out. On the offensive end, they felt confident that they could move the ball until they find something open... We played with good confidence, with both settled attack and settled defense."
The Ephs were led by Emily Jablonski, who scored four goals and had three assists on the night. Margie Fulton, Lilly Wellenbach, and Rebecca McGovern were also crucial to the Williams attack: All three Ephs scored a hattrick, with Wellenbach adding two assists and Fulton adding one.
Williams defense was on its game throughout the night, notably winning 23 groundballs to Hamilton's 16 and forcing 18 turnovers, frand Ali Piltch stopped 11 shots in the victory.
No Continental was able to score more than twice on the game. Dewi Caswell and Kari Koga split time in goal for Hamilton and combined for 10 saves.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair. Although Fulton was able to open the scoring only 44 seconds into the game when she received a pass from Wellenbach and fired a shot past Caswell, the Continentals soon took the upperhand, scoring three goals consecutive goals before five minutes had been played to go up 3-1. Soon thereafter, Williams' attack responded. Wellenbach stopped Hamilton's run with a goal off a pass from Jablonski with 24:19 to play in the half. Wellenbach's goal started a run of five consecutive goals for the Ephs; the run was capped by a goal from McGovern off a pass from tri-captain Meera Sivalingam with 6:40 to play in the half that made the score 6-3. Hamilton was able to cut the lead to two headed into half time with a goal with 40 seconds to play, and the Ephs went into the break with a 6-4 lead.
Williams was able to extend its lead coming out of the break, as goals from Jablonski and Wellenbach in the first seven minutes of the half put the Ephs up 8-4. At that point, though, Hamilton found its offensive footing: The Continentals scored four goals between the 22:32 and 20:03 marks to retie the game 8-8.
The Ephs soon rediscovered their own attacking groove. Neither team was able to score for five minutes. Then, with 14:59 to play in the game, Jablonski took advantage of a man-up opportunity, making a solo foray toward the net and beating Koga to put the Ephs up 9-8. Hamilton scored on a free position shot by Hannah Hoar 37 seconds later – and then, with the game on the line, the Eph offensive lit up. Jablonski was able to score off an assist from Wellenbach only 12 seconds after Hoar's goal. The Ephs then scored five consecutive goals to go up 15-9 before Hamilton scored a goal with just over a minute to play, and Piltch came up with three saves in the final 10 minutes to help Williams secure the victory.
"We played a real good first half, and it was looking OK, and then they went on a little run and tied it up with so much time left," said Mason. "[Our team] just kept playing, and [we] didn't let it bother [us]. It was great. We had tough defense, Ali played great in goal, we handled the ball pretty well through the midfield, we handled the pressure that Hamilton put on the ball everywhere ... We expected that, so we were ready for it, and we handled the ball and handled the pressure really well.
"It was a really good game," she added. "I just love the way we stayed tough through the run they made to tie us up ... We were really good at handling the ball down the end, we handled that pressure that was even greater than their normal defense, we handled that well too."
Williams now prepares to take on Amherst Saturday at 12 p.m. at home. Hamilton next plays Trinity on the road at 12 p.m. on Saturday.
"We have to keep building on this confidence and knowing that we can put a whole two halves together, and know that we can play with anyone in the conference really," said Mason. "I believed all along that we could, we just hadn't pulled it out yet. Now that they have, hopefully they believe they can too, ahead of Amherst, who is a really good team."