On senior day, the Aggies played their last Big West Conference game before their move to the PAC-12 Conference next year
By ELOISE ENGS — firstname.lastname@example.org
On April 29, the UC Davis women’s lacrosse team played their last game of the season against San Diego State University at UC Davis Health Stadium. The Aggies secured a win over the Aztecs with a score of 11-9.
Typically, at the end of a season, a conference tournament would be held, but due to Fresno State University’s loss of their women’s lacrosse team, the conference was only left with UC Davis and SDSU. The PAC-12 Conference made a statement on May 31, 2022, saying that they would extend the invitation for UC Davis and SDSU to join the conference beginning in the 2023-2024 season.
PAC-12 Deputy Commissioner Teresa Gould said that women’s lacrosse is rapidly growing in popularity and that the PAC-12 hopes that the addition of these two teams to the major west coast conference will further promote growth in western regions of the United States. PAC-12 will be going from six total teams to eight.
UC Davis and SDSU’s final battle against each other — before their addition to the PAC-12 next season — was a close match.
In the first quarter, SDSU started the game off strong with a goal at the 11:34 mark of the 15-minute quarter. The first quarter showed both teams’ defensive strengths, as neither was able to score for nearly 10 minutes. With five minutes left in the quarter, though, UC Davis fourth-year midfielder Alex Agnew secured a goal to tie the score at 1-1.
It was looking like the first quarter would end in a tie, but the Aztecs put up a goal just before the 15 minutes was up, making the score 2-1 going into the second quarter.
The second quarter did not have a score on the board for over five minutes, when the Aggies’ second-year attacker Grace Gebhardt netted a second goal for the team with an assist from Agnew.
“I was feeling fired up,” Gebhardt said. “[Our] attack had a bit of a drought in the first half with such a low-scoring first quarter. That being said, we knew we had to step it up on the offensive end and generate more shots and contribute more to the game. We were focusing on riding off each other’s energy and putting the ball in the back of the net.”
Then, between minutes 9:31 to 6:33, SDSU netted four goals, putting them ahead at 6-2.
“When SDSU had a four-goal lead during the second quarter, we knew it was time to step up,” Gebhardt said. “I was thinking one play at a time, […] and trying to control the controllables. At this point, there wasn’t much time left in the quarter, but we were able to put one more goal on the board which gave us a little bit of momentum going into halftime.”
Fourth-year attacker Mia Lawrence started to cut in on SDSU’s lead with a goal at the 5:58 mark in the second quarter. After Lawrence put the ball through the net, there was not another goal scored in that quarter, so the Aggies trailed 3-6 going into the second half of the game.
“We needed to value our attacking possessions by initiating to be able to find the best shot. On defense, we needed to make big stops, which would take the entire defense upping their communication to stay on the same page,” Lawrence said. “The energy from the sideline to the field was amazing, smiles were everywhere and we knew if we continued to go hard and keep our energy high we would win.”
The Aggies’ offense had a strong third quarter; they scored five straight goals, which put them ahead 8-6 with 5:41 minutes left in the period. Gebhardt contributed two of those five goals and Lawrence contributed to one.
“We had a slow start to the game, and we knew we needed to step it up on the offensive side and on the draw to get more possessions,” Gebhardt said. “Defense was doing exactly what they set out to do, but we were not translating their hard work into goals. At halftime, we all agreed that offense was going to step it up, and we were going to win this game together.”
SDSU ended their scoring drought with 1:34 left to go, but UC Davis responded with a goal in the last five seconds of the game. Agnew scored with an assist from Lawrence, making the score going into the fourth quarter 9-7, Aggies’ lead.
“Leading by two, we knew we needed possession,” Lawrence said. “Our attack knew we had to be smart; we wanted to take time off the clock to not allow them to be able to get the ball and score with limited time on the clock. With the shot clock winding down, we all knew we needed one last shot to either score or reset the shot clock.”
The Aggies looked pretty confident going into the fourth quarter, but so did SDSU, who scored a goal in the first 40 seconds of the quarter and another less than a minute later. The score was tied at 9-9.
“I think I can speak for the whole team when I say we had confidence in one another,” Gebhardt said. “No matter where we were on the field, we knew whoever was near us or the ball was ready to carry out the game plan, and we didn’t let our opponent get in the way of that.”
While SDSU failed to score another goal, Agnew scored again, putting UC Davis ahead 10-9 with 4:58 remaining in the game. The Aggies’ game plan was to dominate defensively and prevent the Aztecs from scoring another goal to tie the game.
Lawrence made a crucial goal with 2:08 left in the game — it would be very difficult for the Aztecs to come back from the two-point deficit in just two minutes. The game ended with a score of 11-9, the Aggies taking out the Aztecs and their lead when it mattered most, in crunch time.
“It felt great going out with a win. The UC Davis lacrosse team is filled with love, support, sisterhood and grit,” Lawrence said. “The success that we have had over the years started from our alumni; they have built the program, and we are continuing to grow. I am excited to see what this team does in the PAC-12 next year; I know they will do great.”
The senior ceremony was held before the game where three seniors were recognized. There are more than three fourth-year students on the team, but a couple will take an extra year of eligibility. The graduating seniors were Julie Byrne, Miriam Lebastchi and Mia Lawrence.
“With my last game, I wanted to go out having fun,” Lawrence said regarding her experience. “I wanted to be able to look around and see everyone smiling and loving the sport that we are able to play together.”
Written by: Eloise Engs — email@example.com