Three years ago senior midfielder Ali Jaeger began her career at the College with two goals and two assists against Farleigh Dickinson University-Florham. Those four points would be the initial steps in a walk that has led Jaeger to the top of the College’s all-time points list.
Entering the Lions’ match against No. 2 Salisbury University on Sunday, Jaeger needed one point to separate herself from alumna Lauren Dougher for first all-time. Four and a half minutes into the Lions 11-6 victory over the Sea Gulls — who fell to 13-2 — Jaeger made her mark in Lions’ history.
After a yellow card was called on Sea Gulls defender Kristen Chandler, Jaeger slipped past Salisbury’s defense and threw a shot past goalkeeper Julie Ann Caulfield.
The goal put Jaeger’s name ahead of all others in yet another all-time category in the College’s record books. Jaeger, who had two goals against the Sea Gulls, also became the Lions’ all-time leading goal scorer against Rutgers University-Camden on April 5. She also set the record for most goals in a season last year with 86.
“Ali is an amazing player, easily one of the top in the nation, which is evident in the various awards and honors she has received,” sophomore attacker Jillian Nealon said. “But more importantly, she is an unbelievable teammate and leader.”
Jaeger, who is second on the team in goals, assists, points, ground balls and draw controls, not only leads the Lions, who are now 12-0, on the field but also in practice.
“Ali dedicates her life to lacrosse and to the team,” Nealon said. “Whenever she has free time she is usually practicing or watching games to keep learning. She is one of the hardest working players I know.”
Junior midfielder Leigh Mitchell, who came in as a freshman with Jaeger in 2008, sang similar praises.
“Ali is an intense and fierce competitor,” Mitchell said. “She sets the intensity level at practice and is always pushing every one of her teammates to get better. Despite all of her accomplishments and stats, Ali is an extremely humble player who leads by example.”
Mitchell, who became the all-time assists leader earlier this year, insisted that although it was she and Jaeger who set records this season, it speaks more about their team’s abilities then their abilities as individuals.
“The breaking of these records definitely speaks about our team as a whole,” Mitchell said. “Everyone contributes to the statistics of the team, whether it be the person who scores or assists or the person who sets a really good pick to get a cutter open. Everyone on the field plays a crucial role to all of the successes that comes to the team and each individual player.”
Sunday’s win was the epitome of team success as the Lions had six different players contribute at least one goal.
Mitchell mentioned earlier in the week that the Lions would need to come out “confident and strong and take control.”
That philosophy became reality as the Lions shot out to a 6-0 lead a little over 11 minutes into the matchup — the College had five Lions score in that span.
Mitchell was a major factor in the contest, collecting two goals and four assists for the Lions, while classmate Kathleen Notos and Nealon sent in one goal each.
A pair of first-year players chipped in as well as Jen Garavente tallied three goals, and Alex Spark added two.
The Lions defense was solid again, holding the Sea Gulls, who average 16 goals per game, to only six scores on the day as senior goalkeeper Mary Waller made a career-high 16 saves.
The Lions won’t have much time to celebrate with a trip to No. 7 Franklin and Marshall College coming up on April 15.
“Being No. 1 means that more teams are gunning for us, but we are pretty used to it because when most teams play us it is one of the biggest games for them so teams usually play us tough,” Nealon said. “We don’t focus on the ranking because the only one that matters is at the end of the season so for now we just focus on winning each game one at a time.”
Brandon Gould can be reached at email@example.com.