The women’s lacrosse team will compete for the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) title after beating Occidental College 17-10 in the semifinal game Saturday at Wilson Field.
The final game will be against No. 1 seed Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, which is undefeated in the conference. This is the second year in a row the Panthers have made it to the championship game, as the Panthers were defeated 10-9 last year in the final against Pomona-Pitzer.
“One focus will be on what we can do to beat (Claremont-Mudd-Scripps), (and on) the way they play defense and how to break down their attack,” said junior midfielder Becka Wachtel. “They have a lot of skilled attackers and they are great at working off one another. The main focus is (managing) our strengths and weaknesses.”
Wachtel led the Panthers with five goals and junior midfielder Stacey Zuppa followed with four.
“We played as a unit and tried focusing on the little things, like (winning) ground balls, playing solid defense and having good execution on attack,” Wachtel said. “We knew what we needed to do and how to score (against Occidental), so we just set the tempo and did it. This could potentially have been our last game and none of us wanted that to happen.”
Both teams started off strong. Scoring was back and forth well into the first half. The Tigers started to fall behind midway through the half and allowed the Panthers to score five unanswered goals.
“I think we really came together as a team and kept the energy up,” Zuppa said. “Everyone was pumped going in, and that definitely showed on the field. We hustled through ground balls and fought hard, which definitely helped in our win.”
From then on, the Panthers closed out a comfortable win.
“Occidental showed a zone defense that we’ve seen before and we spent the week preparing for it. We knew what was coming and we were able to easily adjust and take advantage of it. We were clicking as a team and making really good connections as well,” Zuppa said.
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps will host the championship game May 6 with the game time yet to be announced, as of April 30.
“Beating Claremont-Mudd-Scripps has been a struggle this year, but as long as we work on our defense and the best ways to play them and take away their advantages, that should help a lot,” Zuppa said. “They have a really high pressure defense and a very athletic team.”