On the weekend of May 2, the RPI women’s lacrosse team hosted the Liberty League Conference tournament, a two-day, four-team event. After coming from behind to defeat Vassar College in the semifinals on Saturday, RPI emerged victorious in the Liberty League Championship game against tri-city rival Union College, and earned an automatic bid in the NCAA Division III Tournament starting next weekend.
The tournament didn’t start well for the Engineers. After just five and a half minutes in to its semifinal matchup against Vassar, RPI trailed 2-0 after allowing a pair of unassisted goals to midfielder Phoebe Tzannes and attack woman Dara Davis. But RPI’s defense, comprised of junior goalie Erin Amarello and defenders senior Liz Powell, junior Lydia Wolter, and sophomore Maeve Conway, kept Vassar from scoring for the next 12 minutes of the half and kept the Engineers in the game.
Finally, with 12 minutes remaining in the first half, RPI got off the snide, as senior midfielder Marissa Page and sophomore attackwoman Mackenzie O’ Neil each sliced through the Vassar defense for goals.
Late in the half, Vassar regained the lead on a second Dara Davis goal and headed into halftime with a 3-2 lead.
RPI opened the second half playing with an inspired offense and defense. With just half a minute gone by in the half, RPI senior midfielder Meg Colitz scored to tie the score once more. The Engineers one mishap in the early goings of the second half then came one minute later when a momentary defensive breakdown allowed Vassar’s Julia Trudell to get an easy angle at the goal and give Vassar its final lead of the afternoon.
RPI took control of the ball on the following draw and skillfully moved it down the field. After a series of off line shots on goal, junior midfielder Jamie Wakefield gathered the ball and netted a bullet of a shot to tie the score at four. Less than 30 seconds later, with a series of crisp passes setting her up, Colitz managed her second goal of the game with 26:35 remaining to give RPI its first lead. Then, after a key save by Amarello, RPI cleared the ball and worked it into the Vassar zone for a third Colitz goal to make the score RPI 6, Vassar 4. Moments after Colitz’s goal, senior attackwoman Rachel Scofield forced a Vassar turnover, scooped the groundball, and passed it ahead. Once again, Colitz took control of the ball and passed it to junior attackwoman Erin Riley who bounced a shot past Vassar goalie Kate Pula to make it 7-4.
Then Vassar made its final push to take back control of the contest. A give-and-go move by Vassar’s Trudell and Sophia Rosetti resulted in Trudell’s second goal of the game. Two minutes later, an RPI foul gave Vassar a free position attempt and allowed Tzannes to score and bring Vassar to within one.
But that would be as close as Vassar would come, as RPI’s defense locked down on its own net and forced a number of turnovers and errant shots from the visiting team. Then, sophomore attackwoman Erin DeLucca started a scoring spurt that put Vassar out of reach in the final minutes of the game.
The championship game wasn’t nearly as competitive for RPI as the semifinal. An avalanche of RPI goals buried the Dutchmen before halftime as four Riley goals and two from Scofield gave the Engineers a 9-1 lead late in the first half.
In the second half, the Union Dutchmen made a desperate attempt to get back in the game, but it fell short as four goals from attackwoman Jackie Hagopian goals brought Union as close as it would come to a deficit of 12-8 with 12 and a half minutes remaining. Down the stretch, RPI’s defense once again stiffened and two more goals from Scofield and a goal from Wakefield to cap it off gave the Engineers a 15-8 victory and a Liberty League Conference title.
RPI will travel to Fredonia State University on Saturday to compete in the second round of the NCAA tournament.