Allegheny women’s lacrosse aims for history books


Liz Dolan, ’23, moves the ball upfield during a snow game in the Swamp earlier this season.

With two games to go, Allegheny’s women’s lacrosse team is 7-1 in conference play and 12-4 overall in what is shaping up to be among the best seasons in program history.

“They’ve just done a really good job,” said Head Coach Patty Pehnke. “I don’t think there’s really a secret sauce or a good equation. It’s just the girls. They’ve been working hard since fallball started and it’s mostly them — they’re doing all the work.”

The team has been dominating its first season in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference since 1984.

“It feels really really rewarding and good, especially because we’ve been working so hard in the NCAC, and we never saw the fruits of that,” said Elizabeth Dolan, ’23. “It’s nice to finally be seeing what comes with hard work in the PAC.”

Both Dolan and Grace Baginski, ’23, pointed to a historically strong defense as key to the Gators’ success.

“We’ll go against some of the best offensive players in the conference, and I feel so confident that any one of our defenders can take them one-on-one,” said Baginski, who plays on attack.

This defense has combined with a surging offense and midfield to create a well-rounded squad, according to Senna Perelman, ’23.

“We truly are a threat all over the field this year,” she said. “We don’t have to rely on one end of the field to win our games. You can tell by our scores; we’ve kept teams to really low goals against us, and we’ve been outsourcing teams a lot.”

In total, Allegheny has outscored conference opponents 143-55, among the highest point differentials in the PAC.
The top six teams in the conference make next week’s playoffs — quarterfinals on Tuesday, May 2; semifinals on Thursday, May 4; and the final on Saturday, May 6. The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds earn byes to the semifinals on Thursday.

Allegheny is currently the No. 2 seed and needs to hold off Franciscan — third in the PAC at 6-2 in the conference — to retain the bye. A win would also ensure that the Thursday semifinal — against the winner of the quarterfinal between the No. 4 Chatham Cougars and No. 5 St. Vincent Bearcats — would take place at Robertson Athletic Complex.

The team’s path to a PAC title will likely go through a championship rematch against Washington & Jefferson College Presidents, who the Gators fell 8-18 to on Wednesday, April 26. The Presidents are the reigning PAC Champions and 8-0 in conference play. As the presumptive No. 1 seed, Washington & Jefferson would need to beat either the No. 3 or No. 6 seed in the semifinal to make the final.

“They’re going to be fierce, and they’re going to fight, and they want it — they’re the reigning champs,” Pehnke said. “We’re the ones that are chasing them … I tell the girls all the time: ‘We control our own destiny’… On any given day anybody can beat anybody.”

Dolan said that while the team is second on the table and looks good on paper, there are still a few key games left to play.
“We play on a field, not on paper,” she said. “We have to show up to win everything.”

If the Gators win out during playoffs, they’ll be the first in program history to claim a conference title. Winning the PAC crown would also punch their ticket to the NCAA Division III National Championships in May.

“We kind of all have this sense, this feeling that this could be the year, this could be the group that makes history,” Perelman said. “It’s talked about, but it’s also kind of always there, unspoken. I think we know what we could achieve this season. We know how possible it is for us to be really successful.”

Lauren Petrarca, ’25, attributed the teams’ success to a strong shared culture.

“It’s just those little things that make the bigger things more possible,” she said. “Winning games, being able to score off of each other, or having this kind of record — it’s all dedicated to who we are as a team and the people on the team.”

Next year, the Gators will be without what Baginski described as a “really strong senior class with great leadership.” At the same time, she said that underclassmen have already stepped up while playing this season.

“If you look at the stats, we have a very wide range of goal scorers, which is something that not a lot of teams have,” Baginski said. “They usually have one star player that carries the whole offense, where that’s not really our case. Everyone on our team has scored a goal this season except for the goalies.”

Those gaps will be filled by incoming first-years, and Petrarca said the 2024 team will be influenced a lot by the foundation laid down by the class of 2023, though right now the team is taking the season day-by-day.

“It’s just trying to go off that foundation and build a team that represents that,” Petrarca said. “Changes need to be made, but you have to go with what’s happening now.”