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Big Green women’s lacrosse continues strong start

  • Dartmouth goalie Kiera Vrindten keeps her eye on the ball as it richochetes through the crease after a shot from Harvard during their game in Hanover, N.H., Saturday, March 30, 2019. Dartmouth won 15-11. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

  • Dartmouth's Sophia Turchetta shoots on the Harvard goal during the Big Green's 15-11 win in Hanover, N.H., Saturday, March 30, 2019. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

  • Elizabeth Mastrio, right, celebrates with her Dartmouth teammate Campbell Brewer, left, after scoring on Harvard during their Game in Hanover, N.H., Saturday, March 30, 2019. Dartmouth won 15-11. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 3/30/2019 10:14:34 PM
Modified: 3/30/2019 10:14:35 PM

HANOVER — There are roughly half a dozen Dartmouth College athletic teams in seemingly perpetual need of serious repair. The men’s and women’s swimming and basketball squads. Men’s lacrosse and women’s ice hockey, field hockey and squash.

So when a new coach requires fewer than three seasons to transform her previously struggling program into a repeat Ivy League title contender, that resurrection catches the eye.

So it is with Danielle Spencer and the Big Green women’s lacrosse team, which beat Harvard, 15-11, on Saturday at Scully-Fahey Field and improved to 6-3 overall and 3-0 in league play.

Dartmouth narrowly missed a share of the Ivies’ regular-season title last spring before losing an Ancient Eight tournament semifinal to Penn and finishing 11-5 overall, 5-2 Ivy. That campaign snapped a string of four consecutive losing seasons, the first three coming under former coach Amy Patton, who departed under unhappy circumstances and program upheaval.

Saturday’s triumph saw the hosts spot Harvard a 5-3 lead before scoring seven consecutive goals for a 10-5 halftime advantage.

Spencer, a former Northwestern star in her first head-coaching job, said midfielder Emma Lesko’s hard check and caused turnover just before a timeout sparked her team’s run.

“We saw a teammate play a little bigger than she is and our energy changed,” Spencer said. “We came out a little flat-footed and needed to get more aggressive on defense and on the draw. We didn’t need to change anything tactically or over-analyze or over-think anything.”

Dartmouth’s Ellie Carson had four goals and Kellen D’Alleva had two goals and five assists. Elizabeth Mastrio and Kierra Sweeney each scored three times. Kierra Vrindten made eight saves and Kathryn Giroux produced 13 draw controls to push her season total to 82, already the third-best season mark in program history.

The physical contest saw players go flying fairly often. Spencer said that the college game is growing increasingly contact-friendly and that her troops take full advantage of the change.

“I like it when they let us play,” the coach said. “This was an intense game, and in general the sport is getting rougher. Great defense right now is right on the cusp of being a cross-check. I think the refs are doing a good job of calling checks to the head, but in terms of physical contact, they’re letting that go.”

So is the Big Green back? It sure looks that way, although Spencer said it’s an ongoing process. She recruited only three players on the current team and even next year’s freshmen class will feature two players enticed by Patton. Not until 2024, hypothetically, will an entire Dartmouth team of Spencer recruits take the field.

“The biggest change in the program has been the level of trust between the players and myself,” she said. “Once we established that, I was able to start building stronger relationships with them and now we’re settling in.

“I was lucky that we already had some great players here, but as far as this being a program that I’ve rebuilt, that’s still so far from the case.”

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Notes: Harvard’s first-year coach, Devon Wills, is a 2006 Dartmouth graduate and is the Big Green’s career victories leader with 51. She helped the team reach the national semifinals in 2005 and the NCAA title game in ’06 and was a three-time, first team All-Ivy selection. … D’Alleva is seventh on the Dartmouth single-season list for assists with 26. The record is 39, set by Jen Greene in 1998. … Dartmouth wore shorts, while Harvard wore skirts. … The teams’ series is tied at 22-22-1. … D’Alleva was the only player to wear a helmet, a growing trend in women’s lacrosse.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.




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