Women’s lacrosse beats Pomona-Pitzer in season opener

Senior goalkeeper Tara Sonnemaker stops a goal from Pomona-Pitzer. The Panthers beat the Sagehens 15-5. Photo by Bonnie Cash

The Chapman women’s lacrosse team started its regular season Feb. 18 with a 15-5 home win over Pomona-Pitzer, the team that ended the Panthers’ season last May in the second round of the NCAA Division III Women’s Lacrosse Championship.

Senior midfielder Kelsey Mackin led the Panthers with seven goals, while senior goalkeeper Tara Sonnemaker came up with 11 saves to keep the Sagehens at bay.

“We just took care of the ball when it mattered,” Sonnemaker said. “Though we made mistakes, we hustled and fought for every ball. We weren’t afraid to make feeds into the middle because we trusted our teammates to catch and score or come up with a ground ball if the pass didn’t connect.”

Sophomore midfielder Danielle Zahn makes a play against Pomona-Pitzer. Photo by Bonnie Cash

Mackin scored three of her goals during a dominant three-minute period for the Panthers at the start of the first half. Chapman went into the half with a 9-2 lead and continued to keep the ball in the Sagehens’ half. The Panthers looked especially dangerous on counterattacks, particularly when Mackin or junior midfielder Becka Wachtel found open space to run at Pomona-Pitzer’s defense.

“We have plays and plan to execute them, but we want to stay fast-paced and catch defenses off guard, which is exactly what happened today,” Sonnemaker said. “We had great ball movement and saw a lot of opportunities to go to goal. On defense this year, we want to play a more aggressive defense and never let teams feel they are safe and comfortable.”

The result is a strong start for the Panthers, who made it to the NCAA tournament for the first time in the team’s history last season. Sonnemaker said the result shows that the team has strong potential for success this weekend.

“Now eyes are on Chapman,” Sonnemaker said. “Because it is so early in the season, there’s obviously a lot we will continue to work on. I think we needed to see the field again and remember how fast and intense a game is. Now we will take that into our practices and just continue to grind and play at a fast pace.”

The Panthers travel to Occidental College for their next game in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Saturday, Feb. 26.

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