Women’s lacrosse finishes season ranked No. 13

    Anyone who witnessed the UCSD women’s lacrosse team’s final game would have thought the Tritons had won a championship, but the players were cheering for another reason: They had pulled off one of the biggest women’s lacrosse upsets in the country, beating UCLA in the Western Women’s Lacrosse League playoff consolation match in Davis, Calif., on April 24.

    The Tritons had a feeling that they were going to have a memorable season at the beginning of the year in January when they played Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz. The team had struggled against the Sun Devils during recent seasons and placed second to them in conference last year.

    “As a freshman playing my first season at UCSD, I did not know too much about our rivalry with Arizona State, but I heard many times how we usually lose to them pretty bad,” freshman Rebecca Cathcart said.

    Before the team was given a chance against the Sun Devils, though, they first had to visit the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz. The team showed no sign of trouble and the Tritons finished the game with a 14-5 victory.

    With its first-game anxieties out of the way, the Tritons made the short trip to Tempe for their main challenge. Both teams stayed even throughout the duration of the game, and they entered the final minute tied with seven points apiece. With 11 seconds remaining in the game, junior Deborah Han took a pass from sophomore Elisha Agee and squeaked the ball past the Sun Devil goalkeeper to give the Tritons the victory.

    “The back-to-back wins were exactly what we wanted,” sophomore captain Nicole Martin said. “It was what we needed to get the season started on a positive note.”

    Martin looked at the double win to inspire her team in later games.

    “Last season, we fell to [Arizona State] quite easily,” Martin said. “We knew that if we could beat them, it would be a huge confidence boost for the next half of the season.”

    Senior captain Lynn Chouw praised the women for their teamwork in the important victory.

    “The team played awesome,” Chouw said. “We worked really great together as a team.”

    The duration of the Tritons’ season was just as positive. The team finished league play with a 5-1 record and tied for first in the WWLL South standings with Arizona State. The team had many outstanding individual performances throughout the season, including senior Leah Weinstein’s more than 30 goals for the year.

    Chouw also showed she had what it took to be a great goalkeeper. Chouw converted from defense to goalkeeping at the beginning of the season and left no doubt that she could make the transition well.

    “Lynn [Chouw] really did a great job for us in goal this season,” Cathcart said. “The season would not have been the same without her.”

    Agee and seniors Daphne Bilge and Jen Low were the main contributors on offense and effectively led the Tritons’ forward attack all season. Senior Amanda Overton and Martin also shined on defense throughout league play.

    Head coach Karen Lawrence led the Tritons, and many players attribute the team’s success to her leadership.

    “Karen did a great job instructing us all season long,” Cathcart said. “She made sure that we reached every bit of our potential.”

    Chouw echoed Cathcart’s sentiments.

    “Coach Lawrence was one of the main factors in our turnaround from last season,” Chouw said.

    After completing a successful season in league play, the team turned toward its next goal of qualifying for the national championship. In order to qualify, the Tritons had to finish very well in the WWLL league playoffs in Davis, Calif., from April 23 to April 24.

    However, their hopes of winning the playoffs dwindled with an opening-round loss to Santa Clara University. The Broncos finished their regular season undefeated and were the champions of the WWLL North Division. The loss sent the Tritons into the consolation bracket, where they faced Chico State. The Tritons beat the Wildcats and were then awarded a matchup against lacrosse powerhouse UCLA in the consolation final.

    The Tritons did not allow the fact that UCLA was ranked fifth in the nation to intimidate them into believing there was no chance at victory. It was very similar to the match against Arizona State at the beginning of the season in that it was close throughout the entire game, but UCSD came out on top, 8-7, as the final seconds ticked away.

    “We were so incredibly excited,” Cathcart said. “It was the last game of the season no matter what, and we wanted to go out with a bang.”

    The team got national attention for its upset victory over the Bruins as the win was ranked as the second biggest upset in the country. The Tritons’ victory was ranked only behind the University of Rhode Island’s upset over Arizona State.

    “During the four years that I have played at UCSD, we had never beaten UCLA, so beating them was very satisfying,” Chouw said.

    UCSD finished its season ranked 13th in the U.S. Women’s Lacrosse Association rankings.

    “The team has a very bright future even though we have seven players graduating,” Chouw said. “I am sure the three rookies will step it up and continue the team’s recent success.”

    Chouw will graduate this spring without a national trophy. However, she will always remember ending her UCSD lacrosse career, along with six other senior players, feeling like a champion.

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