All it took was a flick of the wrist and a little help from a teammate for junior midfielder Leigh Mitchell to cement herself in the College’s record books.
When first-year midfielder Alex Spark scored to put the Lions ahead 14-1 — in what would eventually end as a 17-1 victory over Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham — it just seemed like another goal. But, that score came after a pass from Mitchell, giving her the 86th assist of her career.
“Every game when she has the ball I can see the look in her eyes, and I know that she’s looking to feed,” Spark said. “She wants to get everyone involved, which is a really good quality to have.”
The feed to Spark launched Mitchell past alumna Liz O’Conner, who held the old record of 85, for first on the College’s all-time career assists list.
“(Leigh) is a great athlete, she’s always had a wonderful game sense, and she can read the game,” head coach Sharon Pfluger said. “It’s like she can scan the area so fast and know what to do. I’ve seen that just get quicker and quicker and quicker as the years have gone on. And now, for her to get an honor like that and have a record, it’s more to me a credit to the type of player she is and the hard work she puts in.”
Mitchell accepted the praise but was quick to give the credit to her teammates.
“I think it more speaks for our attack as a unit,” Mitchell said. “I mean with everyone contributing it is easy to get assists in there because everyone is putting points on the board.”
Mitchell’s feat landed at the end of the week that included back to back seven-point performances. Mitchell tallied two goals and five assists against the Devils on Saturday, March 19, after scoring five goals and dishing out two assists earlier in the week in a 16-0 victory over Cabrini College.
Mitchell was also a factor on the other end of the field as the Lions moved their way to 5-0 by continuing to do what they’ve done all season long — play air-tight defense.
The Lions shutout of the Cavaliers was the first time the College blanked a team since April 23, 2009, when they handed Mount Saint Vincent College an identical 16-0 defeat.
“(The defense) has just been playing well together,” Pfluger said. “They have been sliding when they need to slide and reading each other and reading our opponent. It’s nice that they’ve been in a groove with each other and really are in tune with each other because you have to be as a defensive unit. The defense has to be like that; you can’t have it any other way.”
Senior goalie Mary Waller made seven saves over the course of the Lions’ two wins and, before Devils senior midfielder Erika Depelteau squeezed one past Waller, the Lions held their opponents goalless for nearly 91 minutes, spanning over three games.
“I think defense has really been stepping up this year,” Waller, last week’s NJAC Defender of the Week, said. “We have been setting goals for ourselves for each game, and we’ve really been sticking to those goals.”
On offense, senior midfielder Ali Jaeger had a strong performance during the week as she posted nine points against the Devils and seven points against the Cavaliers.
Jaeger pushed her way even further up the all-time points list by putting seven balls into the back of the net, while also putting a dent in the assist column with nine helpers. Jaeger is now second all-time in the College’s history in career points and career goals.
“I think that she is capable of both (scoring goals or assisting goals), so she’ll do whatever she needs to do,” Pfluger said. “They all have different roles, but it’s not always a set role. Somebody different might be the high scorer and (Ali) might be the one creating. It doesn’t matter to her what she does on the field as long as it is to the best of her ability and it helps her team exceed.”
Junior midfielder Kathleen Notos was a factor for the Lions as well as she posted four goals in each of the team’s wins — she now leads the team with 18 goals this season.
Brandon Gould can be reached at email@example.com.