The women's lacrosse team had jumped out to a 5-0 lead 18 minutes into the first half Sunday afternoon against La Salle, and the Colonials seemed destined to cruise to a victory. The offense was maneuvering at will and the defense was swarming, putting the Explorers back on their heels.
The tone of the game changed in the space of 30 seconds late in the first half, when La Salle scored a pair of goals to close the Colonials' lead to 5-2 and threatened to go on a scoring run of its own. The floodgates appeared on the verge of bursting open, much as they did during GW's 13-10 loss to Temple Friday, in which GW coughed up the lead late in the game. Instead, it was La Salle that began to take on water.
"We suffered a little bit of a blow on Friday, and I think they wanted to redeem themselves," head coach Tara Hannaford said.
La Salle had discovered its offense, but GW maintained its composure. Two goals from sophomore Hannah McLaughlin helped swing the pendulum back in favor of the Colonials, who entered halftime with an 8-4 lead.
"I think our attackers did a really good job at reading their defenders," Hannaford said. "When you're aware of the defender and what they're doing and what they're paying attention to, it creates chaos for their defensive unit," she added.
In the second half, GW continued to dominate the Explorers en route to a 15-7 victory. Junior Sarah Phillips scored two of her three goals in the second half, the latter of which gave the Colonials (5-9, 2-2 Atlantic 10) a 12-5 lead. Phillips also finished with two assists, allowing her to pass Laura Hostetler as GW's career leader in assists with 60.
After watching Phillips break the assists record, Hannaford praised the junior both for her play Sunday and for her impressive career in a Colonials uniform.
"Sarah has been incredible ever since she got to GW," Hannaford said. "She is one of the shiftiest midfielders that we have, and just whenever the ball is in her stick, it draws the attention of the defense. So regardless of if she is scoring or assisting, she makes things happen."
Despite the decisive dismantling of La Salle, a team GW has now beaten in eight-straight meetings, Hannaford said her team still has work in front of it. Communicating like they did Sunday against La Salle, she said, will be crucial to the Colonials' success in their final games of the season against Massachusetts, Saint Joseph's and Richmond.
"If we go in and play together and work a little bit harder," Hannaford said, "I think we've got a great shot to win the next three games."
Next up for GW is a trip to UMass next Friday, set to begin at 4 p.m. The Colonials will return home for their final game of the season April 22 for a Senior Day game against Richmond at 4 p.m.