Goodman Stadium at Lehigh University served as the backdrop for an historic opening day in the United Women’s Lacrosse League (UWLX). All four charter franchises were part of an action-packed doubleheader as the Baltimore Ride and Long Island Sound participated in the first-ever match in UWLX history. The Boston Force, decked out in their sharp all-red uniforms faced off against the Philadelphia Force in the second match.
A highly competitive match between Baltimore and Long Island would be decided by just one goal, testament to the quality of talent that exists throughout the league. With factors such as a 90-second shot clock, and the opportunity for two-point tallies, there was no shortage of fast-paced excitement.
Near the four minute mark, history would be made as Baltimore’s Beth Glaros would score against Long Island’s first-round pick Devon Wills for the first-ever goal in UWLX history. Assisting on the goal was Courtney Swan, as the three shall be inextricably linked for the remainder of their lacrosse careers.
History would prove to be a predominant theme throughout opening day as every moment provided opportunities for something exciting to happen. Long Island would not take long to make their own history, tying the score less than a minute after Glaros’ epic goal. McKinley Curro would become a part of Long Island lore, netting the equalizer. Coincidentally, Curro would follow it up by registering the first two-point goal in league history. As a side note, it would be the only two-point tally scored in the game.
With Baltimore holding on to a very narrow one-goal lead at halftime, one that saw 13 total goals scored, there was no shortage of scoring in the second. Of note, both teams would combine for another 12 goals, with the final score being determined by just one goal.
The final minute of play would result in breaking the deadlock 12-12 tie. Alyssa Leonard’s second goal of the game for Long Island would prove to be the first game-winning tally in UWLX history. Despite Baltimore’s efforts in the game’s dying seconds, Devon Wills made one of the biggest saves of her career, nullifying an aggressive attack on offense as Long Island outscored Baltimore by a 7-5 mark in the second half.
Despite allowing the first goal in UWLX history, Wills (the first female goalie signed to an MLL contract) would make her mark as the goalie that gained the league’s first win, making history twice in one day. Statistically, Lindsay Scott would register the first hat trick for Long Island, also registering an assist on the day.
Baltimore would see two players register hat tricks, as Glaros registered the first four goal game in UWLX history (akin to Wills, she would also make history twice on opening day). Dana Dobbie, the first Canadian selected in UWLX Draft history logged Baltimore’s second hat trick, as the two accounted for more than half of their team’s goals. Katie Schwarzmann, the first-ever draft pick in league history scored twice for Baltimore while registering an assist, respectively.
The second half of the double header would see the Philadelphia Force truly enjoy an element of home field advantage. As Goodman Stadium is located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a strong turn-out hoped to encourage the Force towards victory against the Boston Storm.
A strong start satisfied the Force faithful, as Philadelphia enjoyed the first lead of the game. Hilary Bowen would feed Rebecca Lynch, who fired a laser beam past Boston first round pick Liz Hogan to open the scoring. Undeterred, Boston replied quickly, as Danielle Estraco and Kailah Kempney combined forces, with Kempney gaining credit for the first goal in Storm history.
Both teams would exchange goals throughout an electrifying first half, as neither team seemed to be able to grab the lead. With the score tied at 5 apiece, Katie Webster logged an unassisted goal, attempting to turn the momentum in Philadelphia’s favor. Instead, it was Boston that rose to the occasion, scoring four unanswered goals to grab a 9-6 advantage at the half.
Such a strong display of scoring proficiency would prove to be the game’s turning point as Boston refused to relinquish their lead. A dejected Philadelphia squad faltered in the second half, only scoring twice. Philadelphia goaltender Bridget Bianco was challenged often, assembling a valiant effort in a 16-8 final.
Compiling seven goals in the second half, Boston set an opening day record with 16 goals, as Danielle Spencer registered four goals, including the first two-point tally in club history. As a side note, Philadelphia’s Kara Mupo also managed a two-point tally, signifying the first game in league history that such an outcome took place.
Statistically, Kempney also scored four goals for Boston, while Danielle Etrasco contributed with a hat trick and two assists. Liz Hogan would require only nine saves, compared to 11 by Bianco, for the first win in Boston history.