Senior midfielder Leigh Mitchell approached the moment as if it were like any other in her career. She stood patiently behind the net, watched her teammate cut towards the middle and floated a pass right where it needed to be in order for freshman attacker Lauren Karpovich to record her first collegiate goal.
It’s a goal that Karpovich will always remember and one that notched another place in the College’s history for Mitchell who recorded her 13th point against Ramapo College on March 8 by assisting Karpovich’s score. That point became a part of Lions lore as it put Mitchell ahead of alumna Lauren Dougher for the most points scored in a single game.
“(Leigh) always plays great. She’s always working hard and always trying to help her teammates do well,” head coach Sharon Pfluger said. “She’s just one of those great players that everyone wants on their team.”
Mitchell, who registered three goals and 10 assists against the Roadrunners, also broke her own record of eight assists in a game set back in 2010. Mitchell dished out assists to five Lions in the 19-3 victory, finding fellow senior midfielder Kathleen Notos most frequently for six scores.
“We’re best friends, so as soon as she has the ball, I know what she’s thinking and I know where she wants me to go and I just run to that spot,” Notos said. “We know each other so well and we’ve played together for four years. She has so many assists so far though because the other teammates have been picking up on it too.”
Mitchell has recorded 37 points through the Lions first four games, leading the College to wins over FDU-Florham, Drew University, Frostburg State University and the Roadrunners. That total is 12 points ahead of Mitchell’s pace from last season, a year in which she compiled a program record of 123 points.
Mitchell’s lightning-fast start also lifted her above Dougher for second place on the program’s all-time points list and leaves her only 32 points away from breaking alumna Ali Jaeger’s record mark of 364 points, set just last year.
“I watch the game and I see Kathleen, and she has such a presence about her with the way that she moves, and then there’s Leigh who is so subtle and just comes along with all of it,” Pfluger said. “She’s involved in every aspect of the game.”
Notos has also turned heads in the Lions opening four-game stretch, guiding the ball into the net for a team-high of 18 goals. Sophomore midfielder Lauren Pigott trails Notos with nine goals thus far, while senior attacker Sara Keating and junior transfer Trenna Hill each have eight.
While the Lions’ offense has been highly efficient, scoring 73 goals thus far, their defense has held ground by only allowing 14 goals to their opponents.
The Lions, who are breaking in two new defenders and a goalie, have been able to maintain possession by winning the draw control and securing ground balls.
On top of scoring goals, Pigott has become the rock of the team in terms of the draw control, snatching 28 so far this season.
Meanwhile, sophomore defender Nicole Pineda has relished her opportunity to crack the starting lineup by collecting eight ground balls. Two starters from last year’s team, junior Becky Gilman and sophomore Claire Engelman, have also showed good stick work, picking up five ground balls each.
“We work on (ground balls) every day in practice and we’re constantly talking about picking up the ground balls and being crisp with our fundamentals,” Gilman said.
Behind Gilman and the defense this season is goalkeeper Kelsey Zinck, a sophomore who has slid right in for the Lions and impressed Pfluger after transferring in from the University of Connecticut.
“(Zuck’s) a good goalie, she has good reactions, she always wants to learn and she’s really soaking up everything from our goalie coach, Gina Smith,” Pfluger said. “I’m really happy she transferred here because she’s a great girl and a really great goalie.”
Zinck will be back in the net this weekend in a matchup of top-five teams when the No. 2-ranked Lions return to action this Saturday, March 17, against No. 3-ranked SUNY-Cortland.