Leila Mills has scored a lot of goals, but never one like this.
Last Thursday, Mills — a Wheaton College junior from Brunswick — scored with a second remaining in regulation to give the Lyons an 8-7 women’s lacrosse win against Bridgewater State.
“I’ve never been able to score one like that. It was really exciting,” Mills said. “We had set a play in a timeout. In lacrosse you leave your sticks on the field when a timeout is called (designating each player’s starting position).
“When we got back to our sticks, we realized one of the players was too far away so (Coach Emily Kiablick) quickly put the switch on so it was even more exciting; kind of an on-the-fly, we-have-to-go play.”
Last week Mills scored 16 goals with five assists as Wheaton went 3-1. Mills earned New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference offensive player of the week honors.
It was the type of take-charge effort Kiablick has wanted to see from Mills — even though she knew it wasn’t in Mills’ nature.
“Leila is truly the most unselfish player I’ve ever coached,” Kiablick said. “But at the beginning of the year we really struggled and it was largely because we graduated a strong senior class and we didn’t have a player taking ownership of the attack.
“Lately Leila has put her stamp on this team. She’s still a highly productive player who keeps her turnovers down but I definitely see her trying things with a little more urgency.”
At Brunswick High, Mills helped lead the Dragons to Class A state titles as a sophomore and junior, and scored 63 goals with 31 assists while earning All-America honors as a senior.
She has started at attack since her first game at Wheaton. As a freshman she was a complementary threat with 14 goals and six assists. Last season Wheaton doubled its win total (14-6) and Mills bumped up her contribution to 28 goals and 11 assists.
This season Mills, a neuroscience major, leads the team in goals (42) and points (54).
“Especially when I came as a freshman, I just kind of watched everything that happened and tried not to be a ball hog,” Mills said. “This year it was really different. We definitely needed not just me but all the upperclassmen to step up.”
Wheaton is 11-6, 6-0 in the NEWMAC, to win the regular-season title. The Lyons will host the league semifinal and final rounds this weekend. The NEWMAC champ receives a bid to the NCAA Division III playoffs.
Wheaton finished winning 5 of 6 — the loss, 14-3 last Saturday, to powerful Bowdoin College (ranked eighth nationally). Mills scored all of Wheaton’s goals.
Mills’ goal-scoring increase has corresponded to an improved ability to convert directly off a pass after making a cut close to the net. A slender 5-foot-3 player, Mills said by improving her “quick stick” shot it’s been harder for her to be pushed out of scoring areas.
Quite often the pass is coming from freshman attack Allie Bush of Kennebunk. Bush’s 30 assists are the second-highest single-season total in school history. Bush also has 11 goals.
“She’s connecting with Leila really well. She’s helped bring her game to another level,” Kiablick said.
Junior Hayley Bright (3 goals, 1 assist) of Cumberland (North Yarmouth Academy) is starting as Wheaton’s low defender and has been a critical component to the Lyons’ “high-pressure defense,” Kiablick said. Mills’ former Brunswick High teammate, Kelsie Jenquine, is one of the first midfielders off the bench.
Guilford (N.C.) College junior Lily Colley of Wells was named the Old Dominion Athletic Conference player of the week on April 16. Colley scored 14 goals with seven assists during a 3-0 week as the Quakers extended their school-record winning streak to 12, including a four-goal, three-assist effort in a key ODAC win against Shenandoah on April 13.
The Quakers finished their regular season last Saturday with their 14th straight win, snapping a 24-game losing streak to Washington and Lee. At 15-1 overall and 10-0 in the ODAC, the Quakers received a bye into the semifinals. Colley has 71 goals with a school-record 39 assists.
Colley’s twin sister, Becca, has 30 goals and 10 assists.
• Thomas College seniors Ceara DiBiase of Westbrook and Jasmine Ryan of Berwick (Noble) led the Terriers to a 12-11 win Sunday against New England College. Thomas (10-4, 5-1) wrapped up the No. 2 seed for the upcoming North Atlantic Conference playoffs. DiBiase scored three goals, including the winner with 2:24 left in the game to break an 11-11 tie. First-year keeper Brittany Fox of Lovell (Fryeburg Academy) made nine saves in the win and junior Jillian Lambert of Dayton (Thornton Academy) scored two goals.
• In another NAC playoff matchup, No. 3 Colby-Sawyer College, featuring Sara Berry of Bowdoinham (Mt. Ararat) will host No. 6 Husson. Berry (11 goals, 1 assist) scored when the two teams met recently. Maryalice Gurnee of South Portland has two goals this season for Colby-Sawyer (7-8, 4-2 in NAC). Husson (3-9, 1-5) features first-year midfielder Alissa Fallon of Kennebunk (13 goals, 7 assists) and first-year attack Anna Wolterbeek of Wells (Lewiston) who has four goals and three assists.
TRACK AND FIELD
Wheaton College freshmen Amanda Peterson of Gray-New Gloucester and Emily Rand of Falmouth have been key members of the Lyons’ 400 relay team. Wheaton is ranked 19th in the NCAA Division III track & field poll.
Individually, Peterson was 14th in the 100-meter dash and Rand was 17th in the 200 dash at last weekend’s Eric Loeschner Memorial Meet, where Wheaton placed third.
During the men’s meet, Wheaton senior Sam Fear of Bath (North Yarmouth Academy) placed third in the high jump, clearing 6-2, and was part of an 11th-place 400 relay that included freshman Sam Miklovich of Gray-New Gloucester.
William Smith College junior Katie Paige of Brunswick (North Yarmouth Academy) and the rest of the Herons’ varsity eight were named the Liberty League boat of the week.
Ranked fourth in the latest CRCA/USRowing poll, the team beat all five of its Division III opponents on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass., just 0.93 second behind Holy Cross on Saturday and winning its Sunday race.
Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at: