MADISON—The Guilford girls lacrosse team was due.
Freshman Maddie Epke and senior Nicolette Spotlow scored three goals each to lead Guilford to a 10-7 Southern Connecticut Conference win over Hand at Strong Field on Thursday.
The Indians defeated the Tigers for the first time in six years, taking advantage of five Hand penalties, scoring off of six Tigers turnovers and controlling ball possession over the final five minutes.
“It’s been six years since we beat Hand, they knocked us out of the Class M tournament last season too,” said Guilford coach Wendy Epke, the mother of Maddie Epke. “So yeah, this is a little revenge. The difference this year than in the past is we’re being a “we” team. Everyone is buying into that concept, we’re producing a complete team effort and everyone is contributing. It’s a big reason we’re 9-1 now.
“It actually took a while for us to settle down in the game. We had a good talk at halftime, they settled down and got in a great rhythm in the second half. Scoring the first four goals in the second half was a big turning point for us.”
The Tigers started strong and scored three of the game’s first four goals. Chloe Silva and Carolne White gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead early in the first half. Spotlow scored her first goal to cut the lead to 2-1 with 21:55 to go in the half. Kacie Wines gave Hand a 3-1 lead with 19:23 to go.
The Indians responded with a 3-0 run with a Spotlow goal and a pair of Epke goals. Epke grabbed a loose ball in front of the Hand net and wristed a shot into the upper right corner to give the Indians a 4-3 lead with 4:41 to go.
“We’ve been pushing ourselves hard this season, working on teamwork instead of an individual effort,” Maddie Epke said. “After halftime, we spread out more and created more space for wide open shots. We got in a good rhythm as the game went on. We can use this win to create some momentum when we play in the states (Class M tournament).”
The Tigers (7-5) took advantage of one last opportunity in the half. Wines shot into the upper right corner of the net with 1:26 left in the half for a 4-4 tie at halftime.
The Indians wasted no time to set the tone of the second half. Nicole Tepley gave Guilford a 5-4 lead 30 seconds into the second half, Spotlow made it 6-4 with 21:35 to go, Maddie Constantino scored 49 seconds later for a 7-4 lead and Catherine Larrow padded the lead at 8-4 with 18:26 left in the game.
The Tigers never recovered.
“We played hard,” Hand coach Will Mraz said. “But the penalties we took hurt us. They were a man up too often.”
White, Silva and Wines had two goals each for the Tigers. Sydney Widlitz had four saves for the Indians and Maggie Lesnik had 12 saves for the Tigers.