College home after beating Bears

Maintaining dominance in the first half and of unranked teams on both sides of the ball, the lacrosse team rode early momentum to a pair of wins last week in preparation for an upcoming schedule of familiar opponents and storylines.

Sparks scores at will with seven goals against Ursinus. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

The No. 6 Lions (7-2) ended their three-game road stretch with a 17-6 win at Ursinus College in the first game of the week, methodically building an 8-1 first-half lead that escalated to 11-1 early in the second half.

“It’s very important to get up early so that we can set the tone of the game,” senior Jillian Nealon said. “Having the control early allows us to really settle into our style of play.”

Bears’ goalies Riley Pembroke and Margaret Philbin put up 14 saves in a valiant effort, but the Lions — led by senior Alex Spark’s game-high seven goals — took care of business to stay in the win column.

The College kept Ursinus shot-less through more than 23 minutes into the game, and junior goalie Kelsey Zinck only needed three saves for the win thanks to positive play in front of her in midfield and on defense.

“In the past few games we have done a good job of maintaining possession of the ball and limiting our opponents,” Nealon said. “On the other side of that our defense has been playing strong and not letting the other teams get off good shots.”

Nealon found the back of the net five times, while the rest of the scoring was fairly evenly distributed between junior midfielder Lauren Pigott, sophomore midfielder Lauren Karpovich, sophomore midfielder Erin Waller and freshman attacker Carly Walters.

The College then returned to Lions Stadium for some home cooking on Saturday against Manhattanville College (1-8), once again building a large lead — this time, it was 12-0 by halftime — while limiting the Valiants to seven shots during the game, five of which were on net.

Nealon scored four of her team-high five goals in the first half and added three assists during the run, while Spark scored four times and junior attacker Jen Garavente returned to the box score with three of her own.

A suffocating defensive performance lowered the Lions’ goals against average to 6.11 on the season, which can leave them feeling good heading into a pair of fascinating games this week against Rowan University and No. 8 Franklin & Marshall College.

“Heading into this week, I think our defense has gained a lot of confidence and we have settled into a good style of play offensively,” Nealon said. “We just need to start off strong and win the draw controls and ground balls.”

On Tuesday, April 2 the College hosts its second consecutive game against conference rival Rowan, who opened NJAC play with a (win/loss) on Friday, March 29 before taking on another familiar opponent in Franklin & Marshall College on Saturday, March 30.