Hawks overpower Golden Bears for senior day win

Andrew Wuebker, Sports Editor

The Roger Williams University women’s lacrosse team rolled to a 19-7 win over Western New England University on their senior day Saturday, April 14.

RWU seniors Paige Byrne, Kaelin Hogan, Carly Martin and Nicole Palombo were recognized before the game for their contributions to the team over the past four years.

The victory kept the Hawks on pace for second place in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC), trailing only Endicott College in the standings. The triumph was also RWU’s third in a row after losing at home to Endicott on April 4.

Hawks junior attacker Emily Stoeppel said the team is playing well at the right time, especially after the last two games in which RWU posted a sloppy showing against University of New England a week earlier.

“We’ve definitely progressed as a team and we’re making smarter decisions and we’ve really just come together as a cohesive unit,” Stoeppel said. “And it’s awesome seeing on defense [that] we’re talking together and we’re playing as a team rather than as individuals.”

The Hawks scored early and often in this contest, getting out to a 7-0 lead just almost midway through the first half. Hogan had three of her team-high four goals on the day in the stretch while Stoeppel scored once. Goals were also added by Martin, freshman Delana Erickson and sophomore Shayne Rivard.

WNE’s Kristen Breen finally found the back of the net on a Golden Bears breakaway at the 12:09 mark to stop the Hawks’ scoring outburst.

The seven-goal lead was short-lived however as RWU freshman Lauren Flahive got a goal to make the score 8-1 Hawks. Rivard added her second of the day nearly five minutes later to increase the lead to 9-1.

WNE would add two more goals in the last four minutes of the half however, cutting into the RWU lead at 10-3.

To start the second half, the Hawks proceeded to score with ease much like they did in the first.

RWU scored four of the first five goals to gain a 14-4 advantage, before WNE scored netted three consecutive goals to trail only 14-7.

The Golden Bears would be held scoreless for the final 15:51 of the game though, as the Hawks powered their way to five more goals scored by freshman Devon Sarazin, Erickson twice, Rivard and Hogan, en route to a 19-7 win.

When asked about her team’s improved play over the last two games after a somewhat sloppy showing versus University of New England a week ago, RWU coach Jennifer Fox said she was happy with her team’s recent performances, adding that setting new goals for all three phases going into each matchup has kept the team focused on getting better.

“I think we’re really focusing on ourselves and we keep rating ourselves compared to our last game,” Fox said. “So, we gave ourselves like an eight out of 10 versus Curry. I know we’re playing some teams that we know we’re stronger than so it’s really tough make ourselves motivated to play up to our level. We’re setting new goals I think for defense, midfield and attack, so we hit all our goals today and I think that’s something we’ve started since two games ago where you didn’t see me as happy. So I think it’s just focusing on the little things on all aspects — defensively, our transition and basically on attack. So, every game, at least the last two games, three games too I guess, yeah, we’re excited we win, but we’re still pretty hard on them. We know they can do better and I know what Endicott looks like every day so I think too, holding them to a standard where I expect us to be ready to go for a conference championship hopefully works out.”

When asked to reflect on what the seniors have meant to Fox this year on their senior day, she spoke highly of their leadership and competitive drive, also mentioning their guidance has helped her transition as the Hawks’ new head coach.

“Whether it’s their drive and their fight, I think all four of them have fight in them and I think that’s something that again, stems from them and then the rest will just follow,” she said. “I think all four of them are unbelievable hard workers. They hold the team accountable. They push them to be better. And I know even on Friday the team was all doing wall ball at 8:30 in the morning because I think the captains organized it too. They are a very driven bunch and they’re great leaders and [the non-seniors] are really gonna have big, big shoes to fill once they graduate, but we’re not talking about that just yet. They’re an amazing four and it’s made the  transition too, I think, just as smooth because of them for me too.”

With the victory, the Hawks improved to 10-3 overall and 5-1 in the conference. The Hawks also improved to 6-1 at home with the victory.

The Hawks will close out the regular season next week with road games against last place Nichols College (4-7, 0-5 CCC) on Wednesday and third place Gordon College (7-7, 4-1 CCC) on Saturday.