Steve Lewis/Durango Herald
The Regis Rangers’ offense was a sharp knife cutting mushrooms Saturday.
The Fort Lewis Skyhawks’ offense was a dull knife, trying to make cuts into an unripe tomato.
The Rangers’ women’s lacrosse team built a 13-4 halftime lead by slicing up the Skyhawks’ defense, and Regis won the cold and blustery Western Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association matchup 17-9 after a late run by the Skyhawks at Ray Dennison Memorial Field.
“Passion,” FLC head coach Kelsey MacDonald said. “I really think that Regis wanted it more than we did.”
The Rangers certainly looked sharper.
Regis abused the Skyhawks’ struggling transition game, taking advantage of poor passes to control time of possession in the first half.
“It hurts,” FLC midfielder Ally Kvidera said of her team’s problems with the clearance game.
FLC was just 18 of 31 on clears Friday; Regis was 17 of 21.
“We just have to have confidence in our cuts ... confidence and wanting the ball,” MacDonald said.
With so much time spent on their heels, the Skyhawks’ defenders gave the Rangers too many outside-in shots, starting with Erin Todd’s unassisted charge to the net just 18 seconds into the game.
“We were a step behind them,” Kvidera said. “They’re quick; they’re a quick team.”
But the assist from the circle edge to the goal front worked best for Regis, which tallied 11 assists on their 17 goals.
Todd was the leading scorer with six goals and two assists, and Danica Cutshall had four assists for Regis.
“Our defense was getting picked apart,” MacDonald said.
Not freshman goalkeeper Alyssa Spencer, though.
The Durango High School alumna has made the transition to college lacrosse with aplomb, and if the FLC defense sometimes looks like a portobello, Spencer was a rock that took chips out of the Rangers’ razor offense.
“I guess I could say when I get on a roll, I keep going,” Spencer said.
She made 16 saves, including some very impressive, point-blank stuffs, then credited her success with solid coaching that’s helped “break my bad habits.”
“We’re so lucky,” Kvidera said of Spencer. “There’s not enough ‘thank yous.’”
The Skyhawks found a whet stone at the half to put an edge on their attack.
Instead of making passes around the Regis perimeter and allowing the Rangers to sit back and block the lanes – “we weren’t moving their defense,” Kvidera said – the Skyhawks immediately took a more aggressive approach to goal scoring.
“We came out really strong, and we played Fort Lewis lacrosse,” MacDonald said.
The Skyhawks won the second half 5-4.
Ellie Carpenter scored first, eight minutes into the second half to pull within eight on a free-position shot, then Kvidera scored 30 seconds later on an unassisted charge to the goal.
It was the junior’s 100th goal, making her the first-ever FLC women’s lacrosse player to reach that career mark.
Kvidera and Carpenter led the Skyhawks with two goals apiece, and Jessica Norby tallied two assists.
Regis keeper Gianna Lombardi made six saves for the win.
But the Rangers, who outshot FLC 39-19, snapped through four quick consecutive goals – their only four of the half – to open up an 11-goal lead with 9 minutes, 28 seconds to play in regulation.
FLC answered with three in a row of their own in the final five minutes, but the hole was too deep to climb out of.
FLC (4-4, 3-2 WILA) will host Lindenwood in another conference game at 3 p.m. April 1 at Ray Dennison Memorial Field.