You won’t find the word panic in the Gettysburg College women’s lacrosse team’s lexicon.
Trailing No. 7 York College 5-1 with 11:34 to play in the first half, the top-ranked, two-time defending national champion Bullets pulled themselves together and ground out a 15-10 win on Wednesday afternoon at Clark Field. The victory was the 16th consecutive for head coach Carol Cantele’s club – the last loss was to the Spartans during the 2018 regular season.
After the Spartans’ Meghan Fox scored her fourth finder of the period to put the Orange & Blue in a four-goal hole – their largest deficit of the season – Cantele called a timeout.
“We said the team that had the fewest unforced errors would come out on top,” explained Cantele of her little chat. “We weren’t executing very well and we had some costly turnovers. We had four posts – we had to shoot at the goalie and make her make saves. No real adjustments, we just had to take care of the ball and clean things up.”
The message was received. Senior Steph Coulson led the Bullets back with a personal three-goal spree in just under four minutes that turned the contest around.
“She told us to just be gritty – it’s a long game and we have plenty of time to come back,” said Coulson, who finished with four goals and an assist. “She also told us to get our act together and that we were better than we were playing. We stepped it up (after that) – we knew what we had to do.”
Junior Courtney Patterson matched Coulson with four goals – all in the final 10 minutes – including a pair that gave Gettysburg (6-0) the lead for good. She added a team-high three assists.
“Steph (Coulson) was being face-guarded in the second half so that opened things up for other people,” said Patterson of her late explosion. “We just started mixing it up – shooting low and finding what worked.”
Caitlin Rankin started the scoring on a feed from Jordan Conley. Fox followed with a sneak attack wrap-around that made it 2-0 in favor of the visitors.
Bri Stokes sliced the deficit in half on a one-woman cavalry charge that ended with an overhand finish. Fox answered when she ran left and let fly. The southpaw sliced a third shot past Gettysburg goalie Bailey Pilder to extend the lead to 4-1 and clinched her golden sombrero when she attacked the middle of the Bullet defense and let loose a laser that found the back of the net and prompted Cantele to seek a reset.
“We knew this was going to be a real test for us and that we were going up against an incredible draw unit in York,” said the veteran coach. “We definitely capitalized on the possessions we got.”
Coulson put her speed and elusiveness on display during her hat-trick jag. First she drew contact in close and finished the free position goal, then went top-shelf from the doorstep before isolating herself outside then zig-zagging her way to pay dirt.
“There’s a little bit of pressure (in being the two-time champs) but we know we’re a new team,” she said. “We know everyone is gunning for us and nothing is given to us – everything we get is earned. We come out here every day like we haven’t won a single game yet. We’re supported by our coaches. We feel super lucky and very grateful.”
Stokes tied things at 5-all on a free position attempt. Liza Barr completed the five-goal surge when she took a lob from Patterson and brought the hatchet down to put the hosts ahead at the intermission, 6-5.
The Spartans (5-2) edged in front 7-6 and 8-7 but Coulson and Patterson collaborated on a perfect give-and-go and then found Kerry McKeever off a free position restart to knot it at 8 with 21:08 left.
Patterson notched three of the next four goals and McKeever assisted Ella Orzechowski as the Bullets began to pull away. Fox’s fifth goal got York within 12-9 but that’s as close as the guests could get.
Patterson sandwiched a dish to Lauren Cole and a hard overhand around McKeever’s freeze frame foray to complete the scoring.
“Our players feel very confident,” said Cantele. “We have to make sure they stay on task – work for every win and not take anything for granted.”
Gettysburg starts its Centennial Conference schedule on Saturday afternoon when it hosts Ursinus.
York 5 5 – 10
Gettysburg 6 9 – 15
Goals: Y-Meghan Fox 5, Caitlin Rankin 2, Regan Cook 2, Hayley McCormick 1; G-Courtney Patterson 4, Steph Coulson 4, Kerry McKeever 2, Bri Stokes 2, Laura Cole 1, Liza Barr 1, Ella Orzechowski 1. Assists: Y-Celly Arthur 1, Jordan Conley 1, Fox 1, Rankin 1; G-Patterson 3, Coulson 1, McKeever 1. Shots: Y-27; G-33. Ground balls: Y-11; G-14. Draw controls: Y-13; G-14. Saves: Y-9; G-9. Turnovers: Y-9; G-9.