Timely scoring, chippy defense headline women’s lacrosse’s 16-11 win over Sacred Heart

Michael LaRocca, Opinion Editor

HAMDEN, Conn. – On a mid-winter day that was more akin to late spring, Quinnipiac women’s lacrosse opened its season with a statement 16-11 win over the visiting Sacred Heart Pioneers Wednesday. The win for the Bobcats was their fifth-straight in home openers dating back to the 2019 season. 

After falling behind 2-0 early in the first quarter, Quinnipiac got on the board with a goal from sophomore midfielder EllaGrace Delmond. The Bobcats’ first goal of the season sparked a 4-0 run throughout the first frame as the team got into a rhythm.

The Pioneers were able to battle back against the Bobcats in the second quarter, tying the game up at five midway through. However, that tie was broken by freshman attacker Mia Delmond, EllaGrace’s younger sister, who scored her first collegiate goal to make the score 6-5 Bobcats. 

“It was amazing,” EllaGrace said. “We played together all through high school. Last year, I missed her so much. So having her on the field again was the best thing I could have. It was really amazing.”

Quinnipiac went on to score three more goals in the final 3:32 of the half, punctuated by tallies from seniors, attacker Desiree Kleburg and midfielder Sophia Iaccino, both their second goals of the half. 

If the first half was like a walk in the park, then the second half was a stroll through a warzone when it came to aggressiveness. After Kleburg and EllaGrace Delmond completed hat tricks to begin the third quarter, both sides started to play a lot chippier with the Bobcats leading 12-6. 

Players from both teams began to lay down hits not unlike those seen in Super Bowl 57 this past Sunday, almost every two minutes. With Quinnipiac leading 13-8 in the fourth quarter, EllaGrace Delmond laid down the boomstick on Sacred Heart junior midfielder Ellie Holt, which led to a yellow card and the end of her day. 

The hit, she said, was a result of the tensions building beyond what was within her control on the field.

“I think we just got a little aggressive and we were letting the calls get to our heads a little bit,” EllaGrace Delmond said. “The refs started catching our numbers and who was playing aggressive and who wasn’t. I’m not blaming it on the refs but they were getting a little trigger happy.”

Despite rough play down the stretch, the Bobcats were able to hold off several Pioneer rallies in the fourth quarter, marching to a 16-11 final score.

“They did a really good job of finding the solutions after it doesn’t go exactly as planned,” Quinnipiac head coach Tanya Kotowicz said. “We were man down for a while, and that’s when you have to look left or right and make sure that the team is on the same page. That teamwork, grit, and fundamentals are gonna be the priority.”

After a 2022 season where the Bobcats struggled to play with a lead, the team found pride in the fact that they started the season with a game where a lead was held.

“We haven’t been known to do that in the past,” Kleburg said. “So it was good to learn at home and win in front of our fans at home. It’s a good start.”

Along with the hat tricks from EllaGrace Delmond and Kleburg, the Bobcats were led by their preseason All-MAAC goaltender senior Kat Henselder, who picked up nine saves in the crease against the Pioneers, disrupting several offensive opportunities. 

With a win under its belt to start the season, Quinnipiac will now look to keep up that momentum against LIU on Saturday, Feb. 18.  The Bobcats beat the Sharks 9-8 in last year’s season opener. For this squad, maintaining a high level of play will mean everything. 

“I think consistency wins,” Kotowicz said. “So it’s just making sure that we did things a little bit better. It’s the same things but it’s just doing them a little bit better.”