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Bella Lynch had 6 goals and 3 assists (photo by Eva Fernandez)
Bella Lynch had 6 goals and 3 assists (photo by Eva Fernandez)

CMS Women's Lacrosse Holds Off Chapman 22-19 in High-Scoring SCIAC Semifinal

CLAREMONT, Calif. - Bella Lynch scored six goals, and Emma Merk and Rachel Leonardi each added five as the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's lacrosse team held off a late challenge from Chapman and earned a 22-19 victory in the SCIAC Semifinals on Wednesday evening at Zinda Field.

With the win, CMS improves to 13-4 on the season and advances to the Saturday championship game, when it will travel across the street to face top-seeded Pomona-Pitzer (a 21-6 winner over Occidental in the other semifinal) to determine the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament. 

CMS never trailed and led by as many as seven goals, but had to fight off numerous challenges from the Panthers, including a 4-0 run late in the fourth that cut the lead to 21-19 with 3:14 to go. After Chapman won the draw control, the Athenas were able to win possession and run down the shot clock, before Maggie Griffis scored her first goal of the game with 1:07 to go and make the final score 22-19. 

Lynch opened the scoring, Chapman tied it 1-1, and the Athenas scored the next four goals to take the lead for good at 5-1 with 6:42 to play in the first quarter, capped off by two straight from Alex Futterman. The Panthers closed to within 5-4, but CMS scored the final three goals of the frame, including a buzzer-beater from Olivia Carey to make the score 8-4 head into the second. 

Macie Gruver gave CMS an 11-5 lead, but the Panthers again came back with three straight goals to close to within 11-8. Leonardi and Lynch scored the next two before Vanessa Topete closed out the first half scoring with her sixth for Chapman to make it a 13-9 game going into halftime. 

The Athenas seemingly took control of the game with three straight goals to start the second half, with Leonardi getting two of them sandwiched around one from Lynch. Merk had two straight goals in the fourth quarter to make it 19-12, and Lynch twice answered Chapman goals to push the lead to 20-14 and 21-15 with 7:11 to go, before Chapman had its last comeback effort come up short. 

Lynch added a team-high three assists to go with her six goals. Leonardi led CMS with four caused turnovers, to go along with her five goals, while Futterman finished with three goals, giving her 49 this season and 99 in her career heading into the SCIAC finals. 

CMS and Pomona-Pitzer will be meeting for the third time this season. The Sagehens controlled the first meeting on opening day at home 15-7, while CMS nearly turned the tables in the rematch, but had two late leads slip away before falling 16-15 in overtime. A CMS win would give the Athenas their fourth straight conference tournament championship, after winning three in a row from 2017-19 and not competing the last two years due to the COVID pandemic.