After losing to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps twice in the regular season, the Chapman women’s lacrosse team was forced to travel to Claremont for the conference semifinals April 30. This time, Chapman was able to come away with a 10-7 victory, earning a spot in the conference finals for the second time in school history.
“It came down to execution on the offensive end,” said Head Coach Dan Kirkpatrick. “We did a much better job this time than the previous two of not letting the highs and lows get to us and keeping to our game plan.”
Chapman (15-3, 9-2) was forced to play a quarterfinal game after being seeded third in the conference – in which the Panthers defeated Whittier College 15-7 April 27 – while Claremont (13-4, 8-3) enjoyed a first-round bye despite the teams’ having identical regular season records. Claremont then hosted Chapman in the semifinals because Claremont gave up less goals than Chapman throughout the course of the regular season, which is what the conference has selected to use as a tiebreaker if two teams have identical records.
“It’s one of those things where our conference is so competitive and everyone is really good, so it’s tough,” Kirkpatrick said. “We had a unique situation where three teams were tied and we had all beaten each other. I think goals against is a good tie breaker, and to Claremont’s credit, they played great defense all season, so they deserved that bye and home field advantage.”
The Panthers did not seem to be affected by the away atmosphere, however, as they jumped out to an early 3-0 lead. Claremont methodically worked its way back though, sending the game into halftime with a 4-4 tie.
Claremont scored the first goal in the second half, going up 5-4, but was all Chapman from there. The Panthers went on two separate runs of three straight unanswered goals in the second half, including the final three goals of the game to secure the 10-7 victory.
Junior attacker Gretchen Rodenberger (four goals) and freshman midfielder Danielle Zahn (three goals) combined for seven of Chapman’s 10 goals. Rodenberger scored the game-winning goal with just more than12 minutes remaining in the contest.
“We have confidence in the end of games,” Kirkpatrick said. “We have players that have made big plays all season long, and that was no different in this game”.
Chapman will travel to Pomona-Pitzer (14-3, 8-2) in the conference finals May 7.
“I think we just need to come out and play our game,” said sophomore midfielder Stacey Zuppa. “We will strategize, but ultimately it will come down to us playing our best and giving it 100 percent.”
Kirkpatrick echoed those thoughts, and added that they will not change how they prepare for this game.
“Preparation doesn’t change,” he said. “We’re going to take it one day at a time. We have a full week of practice, and we’ll be able to watch film on whomever we’re playing. So we’ll be ready when Saturday rolls around.”