DURHAM - The Vanderbilt women's lacrosse team fought back from an eight-goal deficit to tie No. 8 Duke before the Blue Devils scored the final three goals of the game to capture a 15-12 victory Saturday afternoon at Koskinen Stadium.
"Our team showed tremendous character to come back and tie that game," VU Head Coach Cathy Swezeysaid. "I'm not sure I've coached many teams that have shown as much heart, especially as young as we are."
After trailing the Blue Devils 9-1 with 13:11 remaining in the first half, the Commodores went on a 9-1 run of their own to tie the game with nearly 22 minutes to play. In the closing minutes, however, Duke cashed-in on three man-advantage situations to score goals following yellow cards against Vanderbilt, and those goals proved to be final margin of the game.
"We don't regret being aggressive, but to give up easy goals was disappointing," Swezey said. "They won by three, but that wasn't reflective of how the last 45 minutes of the game went."
Vanderbilt turned the game around with balanced scoring, as three Commodores netted hat-tricks on the afternoon: junior Abby Wheeler and freshmen Kelly Chandler and Mallory Schonk. Senior Carly Linthicum and freshman Amanda Lockwoodeach got in the scoring column as well.
"We've been relying on our defense so much this year," Swezey said. "When they struggled in the first 15 minutes, our attack found a way to step up and get us back in the game. Abby Wheeler popped in three goals for us; Mallory [Schonk] played with amazing composure; and Kelly Chandlerhad an absolute breakout game all over the field. That balance was great."
The Commodores found themselves in an early hole. Duke scored twice in the game's third minute and would stretch its lead all the way to 8-0 in the first 15 minutes of the contest. But Vanderbilt regrouped after a timeout and began its comeback.
Freshman Kelly Chandler scored VU's first goal at the 14:08 mark and classmate Mallory Schonk got on the board less than three minutes later. Chandler and junior Abby Wheeler each scored goals on free position shots, then freshman Amanda Lockwoodand Schonk closed out the half with goals to shrink the Blue Devil lead to 10-6.
In the second half, the Commodores would tie the game at 10-10 in just over eight minutes. Chandler scored from the eight-meter arc to continue VU's momentum. The 'Dores would knot the game up when a goal by senior Carly Linthicumwas sandwiched between a pair of Wheeler tallies i the span of 100 seconds.
The teams traded goals for the next five minutes, with Duke scoring to regain the lead before the Commodores tied it up again. Linthicum's second with 15:09 to play evened the score at 12-12. Duke scored its final three goals during man-advantage situations, each within 30 seconds of a Vanderbilt yellow card. The Blue Devils' final goal came with five seconds remaining as the Commodores were playing out to try and regain possession.
Vanderbilt heads back on the road for its next game, traveling up Interstate-65 to play at Louisville on Wednesday, March 6, at 12 p.m. CT. The Commodores return home the following week to play host to Notre Dame on Wednesday, March 13, at 3 p.m. CT at the VU Lacrosse Complex.