As the GW women’s lacrosse team took the field for the opening faceoff in its game against La Salle Sunday afternoon, its future was uncertain. After three straight losses, the Colonials needed a win on Senior Day to clinch a spot in the Atlantic 10 Tournament for the first time since 2007.
A loss coupled with a Duquesne victory would have left GW (5-11, 4-3 A-10) out of postseason play for the second straight year. But by halftime, any uncertainty had been eliminated as the Colonials seized control from the opening whistle and cruised to a 16-4 victory over the Explorers.
GW senior Katherine Sampson said after the game that even with all of the pressure, her team was confident they would pick up the win on the last day of the season.
“I think coming into the game, we were all like, ‘There’s no way we’re going to lose this game,'” Sampson said. “So even if the score was we won by one or we won by a lot, we knew at the end of the day we were going to get it done. I personally didn’t feel any pressure. I was just so excited, and I think everyone had that same mindset.”
Head coach Tara Hannaford agreed, again pointing to confidence under pressure as the reason for the Colonials’ success.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking knowing that it’s coming down to the last game, but I think everyone was really confident that we were going to play well and win this game,” Hannaford said. “We were playing well, so I think that knowing we were playing well, that confidence carries you into a game like this.”
The outcome of the game was never really in question for the Colonials, who opened the game with five straight goals while keeping La Salle off the board through the first 28 minutes of the first half. GW remained on the offensive for the second half, adding 10 more second-half goals and shutting the door on any possible comeback.
Nine Colonials scored in the game, including juniors Taylor Donohue and Mia Breheny, the leading scorers for GW with three goals each. Three other Colonials had two goals, including Sampson, who was the only senior to score in the game.
The wide margin of victory for GW took much of the suspense out of what could have been a stressful day of scoreboard watching for the Colonials. Sampson said after the game that she wasn’t even aware of the different playoff scenarios, only that GW needed to win to ensure a spot in the tournament. Even with a 6-1 lead at halftime, Hannaford opted not to share information from the Duquense vs. Temple game with her team, a game that the Dukes won 13-8.
“I did think about it, but I did not tell them the score,” Hannaford said. “You don’t want to put that added pressure on them. I think we were in a very good spot with a 6-1 lead that we knew if we just continued to do what we were doing that we would win and it wouldn’t matter what the Temple-Duquesne score was.”
She added, “I was pretty relaxed with this game. I didn’t want to say it at any point in time, especially in the second half, 11 minutes left. I didn’t want to jinx it, but by that point we definitely knew we were going in.”
Next up for GW is UMass in the Atlantic 10 Tournament which will begin Friday at 1 p.m. at Temple. In the two teams’ only meeting of the season, GW lost 18-5 to the Minutewomen on April 5.