Under the leadership of seventh-year head coach Miriam Esber, the Mount Holyoke lacrosse team battled its way back into the NEWMAC Tournament for the second straight season. The Lyons finished with an 8-8 overall record, going 3-4 in NEWMAC play.
MHC faced tough opponents to kick-off the season, but rebounded with three wins over the next four games. The Lyons had an outstanding effort during its spring break trip, defeating Clarkson (15-11) and UMass-Dartmouth (17-6). Sophomore Julia Bell – the reigning Rookie of the Year in the NEWMAC – paced the way with seven goals and four assists in those two wins.
Upon return to Western Massachusetts, the Lyons suffered tough losses to conference-foes Wheaton and Babson, but rebounded once again with three straight victories. After a 21-14 win over Western Connecticut State, MHC recorded an 11-9 road win at Wellesley, before edging out conference-newcomer Emerson by a 13-12 margin in four overtimes.
Junior captain and midfielder Kirsten Kilburn was critical during the win streak, posting 13 goals, including six in the Emerson game – one of which was the game-winner.
Following an 18-9 win at Smith, that saw Bell record nine goals for the second time during the season, the Lyons travelled to MIT for the regular season finale. Despite eight goals from Kilburn, and another six from Bell, MHC fell by a 22-19 margin.
The loss did not spell the end as the Lyons secured the fifth-seed in the NEWMAC Tournament. The quarterfinals signaled a re-match as MHC returned to MIT for the right to advance to the semifinals. Kilburn scored four goals in the opening half and notched the game-tying tally to open the second stanza. Mount Holyoke took the advantage on the next goal by senior midfielder Brianne Phelan, but MIT continued to battle. The Engineers recorded three straight, including the game-winner with 1:15 to play for the 18-17 win.
The Lyons had a number of outstanding efforts on the season, paced by Bell, who finished as the NEWMAC leader in goals (71), points (94) and shots on goal (116). She also added 23 assists – good for fourth in the conference – with 29 ground balls, 41 draw controls and 20 caused turnovers.
Kilburn, who posted 70 goals and eight assists for 78 points, finished as the NEWMAC leader in draw controls (131) and shots (156). She was second among the conference-best in goals, points, shots on goal (112) and ground balls (57), while finishing third in caused turnovers (27).
Both Bell and Kilburn were named to the NEWMAC All-Conference First Team, while also earning NEWMAC Offensive Performer of the Week honors once. Additionally, both were tabbed to the IWLCA Berkshire All-Region Second Team. Sophomore attack Catherine Ryan, who finished second in the NEWMAC with 32 assists, was named to the All-Conference Second Team.
Program milestones were also reached as Kilburn not only tied the school record for draw controls in a game (17), but also became the all-time leader in draw controls with 271. She surpassed the old mark of 248, set by Peggy Wefald from 2007-10. Bell also continued to climb the records ladder, moving to fifth on the all-time goals scored list. She now has 129 in just 33 games played.
• Finished fifth in the NEWMAC standings
• Defeated NEWMAC-rivals Springfield College, MIT, Smith College and Babson College
• Played in the NEWMAC Tournament Quarterfinals (fifth-seed)
• Two named NEWMAC All-Conference First Team – Julia Bell '16 & Kirsten Kilburn '15
• One named NEWMAC All-Conference Second Team – Catherine Ryan '16
• NEWMAC Offensive Player of the Week (4/7) – Kirsten Kilburn '15
• NEWMAC Offensive Player of the Week (4/21) – Julia Bell '16
• NEWMAC Defensive Player of the Week (4/7) – Brianne Phelan '14
• NEWMAC Academic All-Conference – Liz Randolph '14
• IWLCA Division III Berkshire All-Region Second Team – Julia Bell '16 & Kirsten Kilburn '15
• ECAC All-Star First Team – Julia Bell '16 & Kirsten Kilburn '15
All photos courtesy of RJB Sports Photography.