BENNINGTON — The Southern Vermont College women's lacrosse team, in only its second season of existence, reached a historic milestone on Tuesday.
On a damp afternoon, the No. 3 seed Mountaineers raced past No. 6 seed Elms to win their first ever New England Collegiate Conference playoff game, 18-10.
From the get go, SVC had the vision of advancing to the semifinals in front of them.
Within the first four minutes, the Mountaineers jumped out to a 2-0 lead off goals from Aubrey Vierstra and Lauren Nesshoever.
After Elms scored back-to-back to tie it, SVC began to take over the game on the back of their captains.
First it was the Mountaineers' leading goal scorer and the most recent ECAC player of the week Mel Orrell, who continued her terrific season for SVC, slashing a one-timer into the net to give them the lead back.
A couple minutes later, Nesshoever got back into the scoring column for SVC, getting a nice feed from captain Emily Lesure and putting the ball in the back of the net to extend the Mountaineers' lead back to two.
Then in a blink of an eye, the Mountaineers lead was up to three after Nesshoever clinched the hat trick by tallying her third goal.
"I got a lot of one-on-one opportunities and cashed in on them," Nesshoever said. "Also scoring in transition was huge for my team and [myself] as well."
With the SVC's lead back down to two, Orrell and Nesshoever scored back-to-back goals to give the Mountaineers a 7-3 lead at the half.
In the second half, Nesshoever continued her big day, taking the opening faceoff and running straight down the field untouched to scored her fifth goal of the game.
Nesshoever continued to be a tough defend for Elms, recording another four-goal half, giving her a career-high eight goals in the game.
"It felt great to have a career-high performance in a big game for us," Nesshoever said. "Hopefully I can carry this performance over for the rest of the playoffs."
As SVC continued its offensive onslaught in the second half, scoring goals left and right to grab a 10-goal lead on Elms, Orrell added two assists to go with her hat trick.
The junior, looking seemingly unstoppable like she has all season, raced down the field and tallied her third goal of the game with eight minutes to go, lifting her single-season goals record up to 62 and giving SVC a 15-5 advantage.
"It's been an amazing season," Orrell said. "I am so proud of the success the team has had this year. Every girl on our team has worked hard all season and I couldn't have had the great season I have had without them."
Vierstra and Stephany Ferreira each scored two goals in the win, while Lesure, Hailee Walker and Paige Vitale each tallied. Goalie Kelsey Carrera had eight saves to pick her fourth win of the year.
"It's a tremendous feeling seeing the girls win this game, especially since this was a great overall team win for us," said SVC coach Tom Otero. "Every girl on the team contributed to this win. We played well in all phases of the game. The girls played with great confidence, which as a coach is great to see. We have come a long way as a second year program and it's great to see us take that next step today with this win."
With the win SVC improves to 6-10 on the season and advance to the semifinals of the NECC tournament, where they will travel to play No. 2 seed Becker on Thursday at 6 p.m.