Adelphi women’s lacrosse won big on Saturday afternoon. It’s something the Panthers have made a habit of this year.
The No. 1 Panthers defeated visiting Merrimack, 19-1, improving to 8-0 in Northeast-10 play and 10-0 overall. Adelphi, last season’s national runner-up, has won every game by at least seven goals and eight by double digits.
The Panthers came into the game with the best average margin of victory in Division II (14.1 goals per game), and rank first in scoring defense and fourth in scoring offense.
“We have a really great foundation on defense and we have a great goalie, so that’s really helping us push the tempo on offense,” said Jackie Jahelka (Garden City), who had two goals and five assists.
“We have a good group of kids that work really hard every day,” coach Pat McCabe said. “Our seniors set a great example, our younger people follow it, they see results and they believe in each other.”
Adelphi was denied a third straight national championship last May when it fell to Florida Southern in the title game, which was the team’s only loss of the year. The Panthers avenged the loss with a 12-5 win at Florida Southern in February, which has been their closest game of the season.
“Day by day, we keep that loss in the back of our heads,” said Kate Beier (West Islip), who had four goals and an assist on Saturday. “We also like to remind the freshman that it all can be taken away in an instant, so that’s important.”
The Panthers graduated eight starters from the 2016 squad, but have picked up where they left off anyway, led by a suffocating defense and an attack spearheaded by Jahelka.
Jahelka was named the Division II Attacker of the Year after scoring 80 goals last season but has taken on more of a playmaking role this year due in part to the roster turnover. She still leads the team with 36 goals but has also upped her assist-per-game average from 1.1 to 1.5.
“The best thing about Jackie is how she’s evolved from just a pure scorer to a player who does everything,” McCabe said. “She’s become more of a quarterback and a leader.”
The offense features five other double-digit goal scorers in Kole Pollock (29), Beier (22), Alison Johnson (21), Casey Zalewski (20) and Michele Scannell (20).
On defense, Hailey Peterson leads Division II with a .562 save percentage. She plays behind sisters Ryley (a first-team All-American last season) and Shea Weber, Kaitlyn Stackpole, and Jen Graham on a unit that has held opponents to just 9.8 shots per game.
Said Jahelka: “We just have to keep focusing on working together and hopefully we’ll end up back where we want to in May.”