For only the second time in program history, the women’s lacrosse team will be heading to the Division-III NCAA tournament later this week after earning an automatic bid from winning the Liberty League Championship. Led by Head Coach Leslie DeLano and a slew of talented players, the Engineers will cap off their record-breaking season with a trip to the national tournament.
Rensselaer, the top seed in the Liberty League tournament, faced off against local rival Union College in the semifinal match on Friday. The Engineers, who were dealt their only loss of the season by Union, defeated the Dutchwomen by a 10-8 margin to advance to the final round for the first time in program history.
The match was no easy task for the Engineers, who had to rally from behind on three separate occasions en route to their victory. The Union Dutchwomen struck first, scoring two goals in the opening three minutes of play. RPI responded with three tallies, coming from sophomores Rachel Scofield and Meg Colitz and freshman Lydia Wolter to take a 3-2 advantage. Although the Dutchwomen managed to even the score with less than nine minutes remaining in the half, senior Madeline Sisson gave the Engineers a one-goal lead heading to intermission.
Fourth-seeded Union wasn’t ready to give up, however, and opened the second half with three straight goals. Junior Shannon Maguire scored back-to-back tal lies to knot the score at six, but was quickly countered by another Union score. Down by one with 13 minutes left on the clock, the Engineers rallied for four goals, taking a 10-7 lead. Freshman Lauren Miller contributed twice in that span, while Colitz and Maguire each had a goal. Despite a last-minute goal by the Dutchwomen, Rensselaer was able to maintain its lead to earn a spot in the championship finals.
The following afternoon the Engineers took on third-seeded William Smith College to determine the league champion. RPI built a commanding lead in the first half and never looked back as the Engineers took home their first conference title.
Rensselaer started the game with eight straight tallies, with the eventual game-winner coming midway through the first half. Both Colitz and Wolter scored two goals in that span, while sophomore Marissa Page, freshman Jamie Wakefield, and Sisson each had one.
After the Herons placed on the scoreboard off an unassisted tally, Scofield and Maguire each hit the back of the net to give RPI a 10-1 advantage. Sophomore Liz Powell closed out the first half following another William Smith goal, giving the Engineers a nine-goal advantage at the half.
Page collected her third tally of the match to start the second half, but was followed by a four-goal rush by the Herons. However, Colitz, Sisson, and Maguire all scored to help rebuild RPI’s already dominat lead, holding a 15-6 advantage with just over six minutes remaining in regulation play. The Herons scored once more in the match, while senior Bridget Curtin had an unassisted goal with 1:27 left to finish the game 16-7.
Junior goaltender Allie Arnal played an outstanding weekend, stopping five shots against Union and 13 more stops against William Smith. Following the match, Arnal earned her sixth Liberty League Performer of the Week—including Most Outstanding Player honors after the Union College match. Arnal was also named the league’s Defensive Performer of the Year, and was a unanimous selection to the All-League First Team.
In addition, Colitz was tabbed as the Offensive Performer of the Week after tallying a team-high eight points off five goals and three assists. Colitz has led the Engineers in scoring with 39 goals and 10 assists for 49 points, and was selected to the All-League Second Team.
Rounding out the weekly awards was Wolter, who was named the league’s Rookie of the Week. Wolter, a defenseman, scored three goals and had an assist through RPI’s two matches last week.
RPI will continue its bid for a national crown tomorrow against No. 7 Messiah College in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The game is set to begin at 3 pm in Grantham, Penn.