By: Jake Miller
CHARLOTTE, N.C.- Coker women's lacrosse fell late in its South Atlantic Conference tournament semifinal, losing to Wingate 15-14 in heartbreaking fashion Friday night (Apr. 28).
After Wingate opened the scoring just over a minute into the game, Coker kept its cool and turned its leading scorer loose on the Bulldogs. McCusker netted a hat trick in the span of just under four minutes to give the No. 3 seed Cobras an early lead. Wingate was able to tie the game 10 minutes into the half, before Coker went on a 4-0 run that stretched over 3:40 in the final third of the first half. Mackenzie Baker started the run, before McCusker, Faith Kent and Claudia Jenkins all found the back of the net in a 31-second span to put Coker up 7-3 with seven minutes and change remaining. After Wingate cut into the lead with 6:35 left, Jenkins propped it right back up with another goal 31 seconds later. With two and a half minutes remaining, Wingate was able to cut the lead in half, but McCusker and Jenkins went to work to end the half, scoring at 28:37 and 29:13 to get Coker its four-goal lead back. The Cobras took a 10-6 lead to the break.
Five minutes had barely gone by in the second half before Wingate got the game to 10-8, before McCusker and Jenkins would respond with back-to-back tallies again to prop the lead back up to four. It seemed as though Coker was able to respond every time the Bulldogs stashed one home. Afer Wingate's ninth goal of the game, Baker was able to respond to keep the lead at four with just over 14 minutes to play in the half. The Bulldogs netted a pair just under 45 seconds apart to get back within two, before Jenkins torched the twine again to keep the distance at three with 11 minutes left. With just under nine and a half minutes to play, the Bulldogs struck three times in under a minute to tie the game on a stunned Coker team. The Bulldogs rode the momentum to the winning goal, which was scored with 7:41 remaining. The Cobras were able to pepper the Wingate cage for the final few minutes, just unable to punch one through.
McCusker led the scoring effort with six goals, while Jenkins nearly matched her with five. Baker scored twice in the game, while Kent chipped in one. Bailey O'Brien and Marabeth Durden each tallied one assist in the game. The Cobras scooped up 18 ground balls in the game, with Baker and McCusker each recording a team-high three. Coker also won 15 draw controls in the contest, with Lindsay Ordemann collecting a team-high five. Three different Cobras caused two turnovers apiece, while Cassie Williams (14-5) made eight saves in the effort.
The loss concludes the 2017 women's lacrosse season.