In its final games of the 2013 season, Columbia lacrosse (3-12, 0-7 Ivy) prevailed against Manhattan, 15-5, before falling to Harvard (3-11, 2-5 Ivy) in Cambridge, 18-11. With the team looking to bring the 2013 season to a positive close, the Lions came away victorious Friday on a Senior Day that paid a proper farewell to seniors Kacie Johnson and Kelly Buechel.
"You want your seniors to have a great experience when they have their last home game," Light Blue head coach Liz Kittleman Jackson said. "I think their teammates really stepped up and played for them."
Freshman Colleen Packer got the start and did a stellar job keeping Manhattan (4-13) off the board with several key saves, including seven in a first half that was marked by its rugged defensive play. Packer finished the game with eight saves. Junior Skylar Dabbar added another for the Light Blue once Packer subbed out late in the second half.
Manhattan's Donna Jo DiNorcia drew first blood in the contest, but Packer held the team scoreless for over 24 minutes of action in the first half, and again for nearly 16 minutes in the second.
"The defense really stepped up and decided to play together and play good one-v-one D," Kittleman Jackson said. "Both Colleen and Skylar had some great stops, and I think that their attitude in the back really just mimicked the team's attitude overall—which was just a refusal to lose."
Playing her final home game in a decorated college career, Johnson answered to tie the game at 1-1. Johnson finished the game with three goals and three assists. Johnson's assist to freshman Allison Hoffman in the final minutes of play tied Marisa Marcellino, CC '08, for the career assist record with one game still left to play.
Sophomore Katie Angulo, who ended the day with a game-leading four goals, added another off an assist from Johnson. With points coming at a premium in the defense-focused game, Buechel, who finished the game with a hat trick in the penultimate of a breakout season, added another goal to make it 3-1. The score held until the Jaspers' Casey Silvestri and Carly Eskenazi answered soon after to knot up the score heading into the break.
After a stagnant first half on the offensive side for both teams, Columbia rattled off eight straight goals to open the second half and stun Manhattan with two apiece from the foursome of Johnson, Buechel, Angulo, and Paige Cuscovitch.
A key part of the Columbia dominance resulted from winning the turnover battle. Though each team managed to force 11 in the first half, the Light Blue limited itself to just five after halftime, while causing another 11 against Manhattan to fuel their game-deciding 8-0 run.
"The second half really demonstrated what we could do when we decided to play together and we decide to play the best lacrosse we can play," Jackson said.
Caitlin Hynes finally stopped the bleeding by scoring the next two goals for Manhattan. Columbia junior Ashley Rinere scored after Hynes' first to prevent a Manhattan run. The Lions continued the offensive onslaught with Angulo, sophomore Charlotte Cipolletti, and Hoffman to stifle any hope of a Jasper comeback.
Halting opponents' momentum has been a key difficulty for the Lions all season. Though it looked like the Jaspers would bounce back after a strong finish to the first half, the Light Blue answered with points of their own and never relented, even after gaining a commanding lead.
But separate runs of three, five, and three goals by the Crimson on Sunday sunk the Light Blue's chances of ending the season on a two-game winning streak. Johnson continued her stellar play with another five goals and an assist to break the career assist record, while also becoming the first Lion to break the mark of over 50 goals in one season, thus cementing her status as one of the program's best players.
While the Light Blue only trailed 6-5 at the half, three goals in under three minutes by Harvard helped the opposing squad seize the lead for good in the back-and-forth contest. Eight Crimson players were able to get on the board with the help of Micaela Cyr's four assists.
Though Senior Day offered a chance to show the prowess of the Lions squad, the end-of-season loss served as a sobering reminder of the defensive lapses that allowed competitive games to quickly get out of hand. Though the Lions won the battle against Harvard 9-3 in turnovers, 7-5 in saves, and 10-9 in ground balls, the loss kept a team that led its league in several key stats winless in Ivy play.
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