The music blaring at Higgins Stadium and the sounds of female cheers echoing across the lower part of South Hill only meant one thing — the women’s lacrosse season had finally begun.
After five weeks of preseason, the 17th-ranked Bombers opened up their regular season with an 18-5 victory against the University of Rochester on Wednesday afternoon. It was the third consecutive season-opening win for the Blue and Gold.
The first 10 minutes of the game were close. The South Hill squad got on the board first. However, the Yellowjackets struck back with three goals of their own. It would be the last time Rochester would score until the second half.
The Bombers responded by scoring 13 unanswered goals and regained the lead indefinitely. Junior defender Katie Long said the team regrouped after the Yellowjackets’ third goal and adjusted their defensive game.
“One of the main things is we have three defenses that we can do,” Long said. “We tried our first one, which was more of a laid back kind of zone, and it wasn’t working as well, so we went to man. That definitely changed the game because we were more aggressive.”
Senior midfielder Kaitlyn Hoffay said the attack also made adjustments in order to take back the lead.
“For the first couple of minutes, we were fast breaking and throwing a lot of shots right at the goalie,” Hoffay said. “We decided to set the tempo and slow things down a little bit and move the ball around to find better shots.”
Eleven players scored goals for the Blue and Gold. Leading the way was senior attacker Tracy Rivas. She finished the game with four goals and five assists for a total of nine points. Four players were able to contribute a pair of goals: seniors Nikki Dahl, Sam Whitney and Michelle Avery and freshman Allison Runyon.
The Bombers outshot Rochester 32-15, had a 15-10 advantage in draw controls and won the ground ball battle 16-11. Head Coach Shannon McHale was able to rotate in many players throughout the game. She said she was glad she was able to have that opportunity in the season opener.
“Everybody has been working hard for five weeks,” McHale said. “There will be some games where we just aren’t going to get a lot of people in, so it’s nice to be able to reward them for their hard work.”
Being able to start the season off with a win will motivate the team to “keep rolling,” Long said. The South Hill squad’s next game will be on Friday when they host Geneseo. The Knights will be a tough opponent, but Hoffay said the Bombers know they have to come out strong in order to keep winning
“We did a lot that showed that we’re going to do some pretty exciting things this season,” Hoffay said. “We’re just ready to roll and get the season going.”