Women face tough non-conference schedule

Ashley callan / Castleton Spartan
Maria Ploof, left, battles for possesion with U. of New England defender Olivia Carpenter, right.

Castleton’s women’s lacrosse team kicked off the 2016 campaign with a convincing 15-4 rout over Western Connecticut State on March 5 at Spartan Stadium.  Seniors Brandi Whittemore and Maria Ploof led the way with four goals apiece while Brianna McKay chipped in two goals to compliment her four assists.

Junior midfielder Raquel Heitor provided the majority of the Colonials’ offense with two goals and an assist in the defeat.

 The Spartans hit the road for their second game of the season as they traveled to tenth ranked Tufts, falling 23-5 despite a strong start.  Brandi Whittemore tied the game at one with a free position shot, but Tufts would prove to be too much as they sparked a 12-0 run before Brianna McKay found the net for the Spartans.  

“The best part about a loss is the amount of knowledge you can learn from it as a team,” junior midfielder Ashley Pelkey said.  “I think the loss to Tufts allowed us to see some flaws in our play.”

Brianna McKay’s four goals weren’t enough as Castleton fell to Western New England on March 10 at Spartan Stadium.  The Golden Bears went on a 5-0 spurt and created some space, but the Spartans wouldn’t go down without a fight.   Maria Ploof and Grace Johnson both netted two goals to contribute to a Castleton run that cut the deficit to 8-7.

The Spartans hung around in the second half but couldn’t manage to tie the game as the Golden Bears used a five-goal performance from Tori Cirocco to overcome the Spartans.

An overtime goal by Carly Sheehan capped off a five goal comeback by University of New England on Castleton’s home turf on Wednesday, March 16.  The Spartans led 10-5 with just over 14 minutes to play before the Nor’easters fought their way to overtime.  

Senior goalie Megan Els tallied a career high 22 saves in the loss.  

“We owe so much to Els,” Pelkey said. “A lot of our successes have been because of her, she’s a solid rock for the team and she stands on her head everyday for us with no hesitation.”

Brandi Whittemore’s career high seven goals helped the Spartans take down Worchester State, 16-13, and the Spartans improved to 2-3 with the road win.   The senior also provided two assists while surpassing the 100-goal mark for her career.  Megan Els was solid in goal once again stopping 20 shots, making it her second straight game with at least 20 saves.

Castleton will look to get back to .500 on Thursday when Plymouth visits Spartan Stadium at 4:00pm. Plymouth enters the game at 3-2 coming off a 20-6 loss to Franklin Pierce in Bayoman, Puerto Rico.  

The Spartans will have another quick turnaround as they open up conference play by hosting Thomas on March 26 at 2:30 pm.

When asked what the team needs to improve on going forward, senior Brianna McKay has an interesting response.

“Mental toughness is our number-one focus.  We’ve had some tough games that have shown both our weaknesses and strengths.  Being able to move on and become better as a whole is important to all of us,” McKay said.

Pelkey says team chemistry has been a strength in the early going.

“Everyone gets along so well and I feel a stronger sense of trust on the field than I have in the past,” Pelkey said.


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