Kate. Shaffer. The West Hartford native has been completely electric as of late, torching the past trio of New York state opponents for a total of 16 goals. Wednesday against Columbia accounted for five of those, as the No. 21 UConn Huskies breezed past the Lions for their program-record eighth straight victory.
From the first blow of the whistle, this game wasn’t particularly competitive aside from a few minor scares. Despite the Huskies’ tendency to give up a goal before they get going, this was not the case yesterday. To start things off, five minutes in, Shaffer dished the ball up to Stephanie Palmucci on the fastbreak, who punched it in. Palmucci got free again on another fastbreak and received a nice pass from Grace Coon to make it a 2-0 game early. In an ensuing free play, Shaffer knocked in a shot and on the resulting draw, Sydney Watson took the ball all the way to the house to close the quarter with a 4-0 lead.
Madelyn George opened up a high scoring second frame with a nice solo goal before things started to get concerning. The Lions’ Katie Lutz, Dani Falcone and Chandler Jean-Jaques all scored to make it 5-3. With a great deal of composure, Susan Lafountain finished a tough shot through contact to make it a three goal game again. Lauren Barry added one to the Husky lead before Jean-Jaques responded with her second of the contest. Kate Shaffer added a pair of goals to stretch the lead to nine and Lafountain got one on a free play to make it 10-4 entering the half.
In the first minute of the third quarter, Shaffer continued her hot streak, getting inside for the score off a Palmucci feed. Columbia’s Falcone and Ellie Taylor responded with a pair of goals in the next five minutes to cut the deficit to just five. Coon once again stepped up with her senior leadership, taking a pass from Watson for the score. Lia LaPrise got her first of the game to go after being a bit more quiet recently. Just over a minute later, Grace Goetz got her first of the season on a nifty drive to the goal, which was quickly answered by a shot from Rachel Graff for Columbia. In the final seconds of the quarter, the dynamic duo of Watson and Shaffer each netted a goal to make it 16-7.
With the game safely in UConn’s hands, Watson added another goal on the free play to secure the hat trick. Jean-Jaques scored again, which evidently proved to be the Lions’ last time on the board. LaPrise, Lafountain and Kaitlyn Tartaglione each scored in garbage time, helping secure the 20-8 victory.
The Huskies have been absolutely terrific this year, improving their record to 9-1 thanks to Wednesday’s win. With just five games left before the Big East Tournament and no games left until the start of Big East play, it would be hard to feel like you’re in a better position if you’re UConn.
The UConn women’s lacrosse team opens conference play this Saturday against Marquette at home.