by Tom Utescher
With Purple Knights battling Griffins on Victory Field, it sounded like something out of an animated film from the Disney studios. However, last Tuesday’s Division II lacrosse clash was serious business for the women of visiting University of Bridgeport and host Chestnut Hill College, as each team tried to put the brakes on an early-season slide.
Bridgeport arrived from Connecticut with an 0-6 record, while the CHC Griffins took the field at 0-5, and late in the afternoon Chestnut Hill ended up where the Purple Knights had started, falling 16-8. Breaking out of a 3-3 tie midway through the first half, Bridgeport had surged to a 7-3 advantage by the time the intermission arrived. The home team reduced the gap to three goals twice during the early minutes of the second period, then the visitors pulled away smartly once more, this time netting six straight goals.
Fortunately for the Griffins, only one of their setbacks so far has occurred in a Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference contest, so they have a chance to change course before slipping too far down in the conference standings.
Bridgeport got on the board in the opening minute last Tuesday, then went up 2-0 a little later. Seven minutes in, CHC knocked the zero off its side of the scoreboard as sophomore Emorie Keimig assisted a strike by freshman Alicia Herbert.
The Purple Knights posted a third point, but another CHC freshman, Lea Sanders, fired back-to-back goals less than two minutes apart, tying the match with 11:15 elapsed. The 3-3 count stayed on the board a little over five minutes, then Bridgeport’s offense came on to log the last four goals of the half.
Chestnut Hill shot three goals to Bridgeport’s two over the first eight minutes of the second period, with Keimig accounting for one marker and senior Kelly Campbell scoring the other two. Freshman Jacklyn O’Leary set up Campbell’s second goal, as the score tightened to 9-6.
After that, a 10-minute, 6-0 spree by Bridgeport pretty much decided the outcome of the contest. The stats revealed that ground ball recoveries were just about evenly divided between the teams, but on 50/50 balls during this pivotal stretch of the second half, the Purple Knights seemed to come up with most of them. The visitors didn’t appear to have a significant advantage in speed, but were able to scoop the ball off the turf cleanly.
After the count reached 15-6 with a dozen minutes remaining, Chestnut Hill received goals from senior Mary Markowski and from Keimig, but Bridgeport had the last word to fashion a 16-8 final.
Most of the Knights’ roster was made up of New Englanders, but there was one young impact player from Southeastern Pennsylvania. Lauren Mengel, a freshman from Boyertown High School, rang up a hat trick for the victors, ending up second in scoring to Gabrielle Valela, a junior who scored a game-high four goals.
Campbell, Keimig, and Sanders each deposited a pair for Chestnut Hill, which recorded seven saves in goal for freshman keeper Katie Joe Lang.
Five of the Griffins’ eight goals and all three assists came from freshmen and sophomores, so that could bode well for the future.