WATERVILLE — Colby College women’s lacrosse coach Karen Henning still believes the Mules can play right with Trinity, and recent history backs her up. Colby just didn’t show enough of that on Sunday afternoon.
Trinity, the defending national champion and ranked No. 1 in Division III this season, used its remarkable defense to stifle Colby’s brilliant offense. Trinity scored the final four goals of the game to take an 8-4 victory at Bill Alfond Field.
“We stress defense,” Trinity coach Kate Livesay said. “We know they have a few people who like to feed the ball, so we just tried to take them out of their groove as far as seeing opportunities. We tried to really pressure those feeders and limit the window that someone was open (in front).”
Trinity is now 9-0 overall and 6-0 in the New England Small College Athletic Conference. Colby, ranked No. 6 in the nation in the latest poll, is 8-1 overall and 5-1 in the NESCAC.
None of the players on the field had played in a Trinity-Colby game in Waterville and the emotion was evident all afternoon. Every change of possession met with a roar from the sidelines and every goal led to screaming and hugs.
Trinity led 4-3 at the half after Colby’s Sara Miller converted a pass from Katharine Eddy with 10.3 seconds left before the break. With 24:09 to play in the game, Lindsey McKenna converted a free-position shot to tie the game for Colby.
Shea Kusiak put Trinity back on top with 21:27 left when she flung in a beautiful one-bouncer on the run while closely guarded by Colby’s Lisa Hoopes. Twelve seconds later, McKenna was hit with her second yellow card of the game, which meant Colby’s leader in goals and draw controls was done for the day. After McKenna went out, Colby had two more shots and none over the final 15:19.
“I think it was hard, because she’s someone we look to when things aren’t necessarily going the way we want,” Henning said. “If we were up, it may have felt differently, but we weren’t. She has that kind of presence, but I also think that there are other people on the team who can step up, typically, and we needed a little more possession, and we needed to take care of some opportunities that we were unable to do.”
It’s true that Trinity’s dominance extended to more than just playing well with one of Colby’s top players out of the game. When the Mules stepped on the field Sunday, they were averaging 28 shots per game, had won 62 percent of their draw controls and were successful on 83 percent of their clears. Against Trinity, Colby had eight shots, won 29 percent of the draw controls and were successful on only eight of their 17 clears.
“I wouldn’t even really focus on the numbers as much as I thought we started to play with a little hesitation,” Henning said. “That’s not how we play. That’s not how we’re successful. They’re a good team and we know that, but I think we’re just as good of a team. It’s just now about believing in ourselves and being able to capitalize on those opportunities and not playing with fear.”
Colby goalkeeper Michelle Burt made eight saves and a lot of them were spectacular ones — like when she stuffed Hadley Duncan with a minute to go in the first half and Trinity ahead 4-2. Duncan, Kusiak and Molly Cox each scored two goals as Trinity had a 22-8 advantage in shots.
“I think what I take from this game is that we still have more to work on,” Henning said. “It gives us things to look at specifically, maybe some of our weaknesses that now we can build on. We’re halfway through the season.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243