Women's lacrosse clinches spot in Ivy League Tournament

by Addison Dick | 4/22/19 2:20am

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After wins against Cornell and Vermont this week, the women’s lacrosse team is guaranteed a spot in the Ivy League Tournament.

by Divya Kopalle / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

The No. 13 women’s lacrosse team earned a ticket to the Ivy League Tournament with a 15-8 victory over Cornell University on Saturday. The win marked the final home game of the season for the Big Green and followed a 22-6 rout of the University of Vermont on Tuesday.

After surrendering a goal to the Big Red in the first two minutes of play, Dartmouth found the back of the net four times before the 20:00 mark of the first half. The Big Green would not trail again for the remainder of the game.

According to Kiera Vrindten ’20, the Big Green entered this week’s games with loads of confidence following last Saturday’s win over top-10 opponent University of Pennsylvania. The win jumped the Big Green in the national rankings and brought it into contention for a regular season Ivy League championship. Head coach Danielle Spencer admitted that the triumph in Philadelphia will lead to higher expectations and more pressure for the remainder of this season.

“We don’t try to deny that,” she said. “We just try to be brave through it and use the pressure to fuel us in a positive way.”

Vrindten, the Big Green’s starting goaltender, said it will be important for the team to maintain focus for the crucial games down the stretch.

“I don’t think rankings or wins like that overwhelm us,” Vrindten said. “We still stay true to our goals that we set in the beginning of the season.”

Kathryn Giroux ’19 said the victory over Penn provided validation for a team she knew was already highly talented.

“If anything, last week’s win fueled our fire for the rest of the season and made us more confident in ourselves,” Giroux said.

Following the win over the Quakers last Saturday, the Big Green returned to game action after two days of rest. Spencer said she emphasized mental over physical preparation for Tuesday’s game against Vermont due to the quick turnaround from the Penn game. 

Dartmouth showed no signs of fatigue against the Catamounts, scoring 16 goals in the first half to build a commanding 12-goal lead. The Big Green’s top-10 scoring offense was on display, as the 22 goals the team finished with are the highest total in a game this season.

Also featured in the Big Green’s win on Tuesday was the impressive play of Vrindten, who only allowed five goals in about 50 minutes of play. She was named the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday for her performance against Penn, in which she made 14 saves on 25 shots. Vrindten said it was an honor to be nationally recognized for her play. 

“I try not to let accolades get the best of me,” she said. “I had a great game against Penn. I was fortunate to see the ball, and the defense really allowed me to get low-angled shots.” 

Spencer called Vrindten the backbone of the Big Green defense and said she was proud of Vrindten’s play against Penn. 

“She’s very consistent and level-headed in the cage,” she said. “She is reliable, making the saves she’s supposed to make, and that’s very reassuring for our defenders.”

Vrindten followed up Tuesday’s performance with another great performance against Cornell. She made eight saves in the game and held the Big Red to just three second-half goals. 

On offense, Kierra Sweeney ’19 had herself a senior day to remember, recording six points. She provided the Big Green’s first answer to Cornell’s offense, scoring less than a minute after the Big Red’s opening goal. 

Giroux said the Big Green played with a lot of grit and passion against Cornell.

“It means the world for us that we’re now going to the tournament, and especially, to have such a big win on senior day,” she said.

Giroux also noted what it meant for her to play on her senior day with her fellow seniors.

“We started out with 10 of us and nine of us made it through, which is the first time in a long time that so many players have stuck with the program for all four years,” she said. “To be able to be with the nine of us together on the field Saturday with a big win just meant everything. We’re going to miss it so much, so the longer we can keep playing, the better.”

Three Big Green players reached milestones with their performances on Saturday. Elizabeth Mastrio ’19 scored the 100th goal of her career, Ellie Carson ’20 recorded her 100th career point and Emma Lesko ’21 won a career-high six draws.

Giroux, who will likely be succeeded on the draw by Lesko next season, described the sophomore as a gritty player.

“When she needs to box out for someone else to get the draw, she’s amazing at that,” Giroux said. “Anytime it turns into a 50-50 ball, she’s on top of it. She played amazing, and I know she’s going to do really great on the circle next year.”

With its fifth conference win in six games, the Big Green clinched a berth in the Ivy League Tournament, the winner of which earns an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Even if the Big Green does not win the conference tournament, it is a contender for an at-large spot in the 26-team NCAA tournament. For Giroux, winning the Ivy League title would be a dream come true.

“We’ve been talking about winning an Ivy League championship since our freshman year,” she said. “It’s been so long since we’ve made it to the tournament. Last year was the first time in about eight years, so to be going back for our senior year is awesome.”

Entering the final game on the Ivy League schedule, the Big Green has won nine of its last 10 games and is tied for first place in the Ivy League standings with Princeton University. Next Saturday, Princeton will travel to Cornell, and the Big Green will play on the road at Yale University. Dartmouth can secure at least a share of the Ivy League title with a win over the Bulldogs. If Dartmouth and Cornell both win, Dartmouth will win its first outright conference championship since 2005. Giroux said the team needs to stay focused on the task at hand. 

“Making the game about ourselves and not thinking too much about the implications of the game will be key,” she said. “We just need to go out and do what we’ve been doing all season.”

The Big Green’s game against Yale takes place at 1 p.m. next Saturday. Following next weekend’s action, the matchups for the Ivy League tournament will be set, with the four-team competition taking place at Columbia University on May 3 and 5.