Linfield lax drops comeback attempt

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Nathan Herde

Freshman Emma Vande Brake fights off defenders.

Maddie Loverich, Sports Editor

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Despite outscoring the Bearcats in the second half, Linfield lacrosse lost their final home game 16-11 to Willamette University on Easter Sunday. The afternoon matchup was designated as senior day, honoring three graduating Wildcats: defender Madison Hicks, goalkeeper Epi Roldan-Rayo and attacker Jenna Hessel. 

Senior defender Madison Hicks celebrated her senior night on Sunday afternoon. (Nathan Herde )

Hessel led the Wildcats with four goals and two assists. The senior captain is currently set to graduate ranked 9th in program history with 69 goals.

“I was honored to have today’s game be our senior day because challenging games like these are the ones that showcase our teams true talent, grit, and composure,” Hessel said. “I have to give it to Willamette for coming out strong in the first half, but I am so proud of my team for stepping up the challenge and showing the Bearcats that we are never out of the fight.”

The Wildcats were decisively more aggressive in the second half, taking 19 shots and outscoring Willamette 9-5. 

Senior attacker Jenna Hessel reached 69 career goals on Sunday. (Nathan Herde )

Sunday’s loss was the second matchup of the weekend against the Bearcats, the first being a 15-13 Wildcat win on Saturday afternoon. During the first game, the Wildcats trailed 9-6 at halftime, but similarly outscored the Bearcats 9-4 in the final half to secure the comeback win. 

The Bearcats were the first on the board less than three minutes into the game and jumped to an uncontested 10-0, led by nine goals from Bearcat underclassman trio Catie Kawamura, Tati Klenk and Analise Wilson.  

LInfield attempted eight shots on goal in the first, but had a hard time getting the ball past Bearcat goalkeeper Shelby Sawyer, who totaled six saves in the first half. 

Senior goalkeeper Epi Roldan-Reyo had six saves on Sunday’s senior day.

Junior Bethany Shade put the Wildcats on the board late in the first half and quickly added another with seconds to go before halftime, sending Linfield to the locker room trailing 11-2. 

Shade was honored as NWC Lacrosse Player of the Week on March 29 after a strong pair of games against Pacific University. Over that weekend in Forest Grove, Ore., Shade scored seven goals and forced six turnovers, securing her spot at the top of the conference with 19 caused turnovers on the season.

The Wildcats struck first in the second half with a goal from Hessel and a minute later, Shade added to the momentum with another goal. Junior Josie Duey and Hessel then added a pair of goals further cut into the Bearcats’ 12-6 lead. 

However, the Bearcats extended their lead with five more goals in the half and the Wildcats eventually fell 16-11. 

The loss was the first in Wildcat history against Willamette’s newly-formed women’s lacrosse program. The Bearcats played their first complete season in 2019, during which they fell to the ‘Cats 18-3 and 18-6. 

About a dozen dedicated fans gathered outside the fences of the facility to catch a view of the game, as is becoming commonplace with all outdoor Linfield competitions. On the southwest corner of the field, life-sized upper-body cutouts of Linfield’s parents were positioned to create the illusion of a crowd. 

 

Enthusiastic lacrosse parents organized a collection of life-sized cutouts to create the illusion of a crowd at the facility. (Nathan Herde)

Linfield maintained third place in the Northwest Conference rankings after the weekend’s games. The team will play their final two matches of the season against the University of Puget Sound April 17 and 18 in Tacoma, Wash.