By Nelson Coffin
With the score tied, 12-12, and under two minutes left in regulation on Wednesday afternoon on an unusually bright and sunny day, Bryn Mawr senior midfielder Olivia Rubin did not lack confidence as she carried the ball to the right of St. Mary’s senior goalie Savvy Smith.
On the dead run, Rubin rifled a wicked left-handed shot that singed the net to put her team on top with 1:46 left in regulation in the battle between A Conference lacrosse contenders.
Just 30 seconds later, junior midfielder Virginia Oursler iced the game for Bryn Mawr by netting the game’s final goal on a one-hopper that pinged the inside of the upper pipe and was fouled on the play to give her team the ensuing possession without a draw.
The Mawrtians (8-2 overall) then ran out the clock and celebrated the 14-12 triumph, their sixth conference win of the year — matching last year’s total with four league games left on the schedule — under first-year coach Brooke Matthews.
St. Mary’s fell to 7-4 and 4-3 in the conference.
Rubin said that the support of her new coach and her teammates gave her the confidence to take — and make — such a crucial shot.
“She makes it clear that we shouldn’t be afraid to take risks,” the Duke commit said about Matthews, a former star at Friends and Northwestern. “It’s been a whole change in mentality, and that translates into how we play.”
Matthews said that she talks to the team all the time about taking risks “as long as there is effort behind it.”
It took a major effort to subdue the Saints, who faced a 9-3 deficit with 21:37 to play before going on an 8-2 run to deadlock the score on a goal by junior attacker Whitney Albert with 6:30 to go in the second half.
Junior midfielder Bryce Pfundstein and sophomore midfielder Marielle Mcateer scored once while senior attacker Julianna Sanchez and Albert had three goals each during the uprising.
Less than a minute later, Rubin one-timed a feed to put Bryn Mawr back on top before sophomore attacker Kaitlyn Panebianco converted a Pfundstein feed to deadlock to knot it at 12-12 with just over four minutes left.
Oursler snatched the draw from St. Mary’s sophomore Emma Driggs, who went 18-9 from the circle in the contest, to set up the go-ahead goal by Rubin, her game-high sixth of the afternoon.
Even when Driggs won eight consecutive draws, St. Mary’s still fell behind, 7-3, at the half.
“We knew she was good on the draw,” Matthews said. “And we knew we were going to have to earn our possessions.”
The Saints simply had too many empty possessions against Bryn Mawr’s improved defense and goalie Maia Faraone, who had four caused turnovers to complement a nine-save performance.
“Those are killers,” St. Mary’s coach Mindy Jones said about Faraone’s ability to pick off passes in the goal circle. “We just weren’t taking care of the ball.”
Things changed, Jones said, when a tighter mark on Rubin helped fuel the Saints’ rally at the other end.
“We have great finishers and we were putting the ball in the back of the net,” Jones said. “And that was allowing our defense to rest.”