As the highly anticipated opening day arrived, it would prove to be an exciting time for the United Women’s Lacrosse League (UWLX). League co-founder Digit Murphy, one of the most accomplished women’s hockey coaches of her generation always liked to tell her players, “Every day, we are making history.”
Undoubtedly, that pioneering spirit defined opening day as all four teams took to the field at Goodman Stadium in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. As a side note, all teams shall be participating in a barnstorming schedule, allowing a great opportunity for fans throughout the Eastern United States to appreciate this latest chapter in American women’s sports.
With pleasant 91 degree weather, complemented by a vigorous sunshine blanketing the field of play, it helped set the tone for opening day. The emphasis on such a meaningful day was one defined by sportsmanship, fair play and perhaps more importantly, an empowering achievement.
Such a day started with the Baltimore Ride and the Long Island Sound facing off, both ambitiously looking towards gaining the first win in league history. With no shortage of talent on either side, as evidenced by the results in the historic UWLX Draft, excitement built as to which player would score the first goal of the game, which would simultaneously be the first in league history.
This unique distinction would belong to Baltimore’s Beth Glaros, who took a feed from Courtney Swan, firing the ball past Long Island goaltender Devon Wills. Said goal would be scored under the four minute mark, although the early lead would not be relished for long.
Long Island quickly replied, as McKinley Curro tallied the equalizer, making her own mark with the first goal in team history. Curro would continue to make an impression early in the game, breaking the tie with the first two-point goal in league history.
Despite the advantage, Long Island would not be able to contain Baltimore, watching its lead evaporate. By halftime, Baltimore enjoyed a 7-6 lead, as head coach Jen Adams, one of the most prominent individuals in modern lacrosse, was in a position to possibly become the first winning coach in league history.
As the second half progressed, neither team was able to make any inroads and grab a convincing lead. Instead, the score was 12-12 heading into the last minute of play. Although Baltimore would score the first goal of the game, it was Long Island that would score the last. Alyssa Leonard would score the first game-winning goal in UWLX history as goaltender Devon Wills made a last second save to preserve the historic win. Lindsay Scott would also lead the way for Long Island by scoring the first hat trick in franchise history.
With the Philadelphia Force and Boston Storm both fighting for bragging rights in the second game, anticipation built over which players would log their respective team’s first-ever goals. Rebecca Lynch would carve her place in league history, logging the first goal of the game and the first in Force history. Assisted by Hilary Bowen, Boston first round pick Liz Hogan allowed said goal.
Despite the early setback, Boston’s Kailah Kempney would tie the score, recording the club’s first goal, with the assist credited to Danielle Estrasco. The quick exchange of goals set the tone for most of the first half as the score was tied at 5-5. Despite Philadelphia’s Katie Webster breaking the deadlock, it would be the last time that her team enjoyed any scoring advantage in the game. Boston would score another four goals, as the scoreboard at halftime reflected a 9-6 lead in their favor.
As Philadelphia goaltender Bridget Bianco was peppered with shots in the second half, compiling 11 overall, her teammates struggled to mount an offensive attack, managing to score only two more goals. The second half saw Boston make adjustments, as their defense shut down the Force. With the offense maintaining their high scoring ways, Boston would emerge as the highest scoring team on opening day, compiling 16 goals.
The 16-8 final saw Danielle Spencer of Boston and Kara Mupo of Philadelphia lead their teams in scoring. Coincidentally, each player would score a two-point tally, resulting in other franchise firsts. Statistically, Spencer’s five points were a game-high, while Kempney scored four goals and Estrasco logged a hat trick for Boston. Other goal scorers for the victorious Boston squad included Kristin Igoe, Tanner Guarino and Kara Cannizzaro.