CINCINNATI -- With less than two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Vanderbilt lacrosse team knows how valuable every game is in its quest to reach the BIG EAST Tournament.
On Wednesday, the Commodores continued to head in the right direction with a 13-8 victory over Cincinnati. Jill Doherty dished out a career-high five assists, Mallory Schonk had three goals and three assists and Amanda Lockwood added a hat trick as Vanderbilt won its second straight game.
The Commodores (5-8, 2-2 BIG EAST) improved to 4-0 all-time against the Bearcats, and stayed in fifth in the league standings with three games remaining. The top four teams in the eight-team league make the postseason tournament, which will be held from April 30-May 2 in Storrs, Conn.
Vanderbilt never trailed. Schonk scored 35 seconds into the game and Caroline Peters followed shortly after for a quick 2-0 lead. Cincinnati (2-11, 0-3) tied it up, but Lockwood answered 23 seconds later and the Commodores never looked back. They went up by as many as seven goals in the second half as eight players scored.
"It was good for our team to play in a situation where they were up the entire game," coach Cathy Swezey said. "Every BIG EAST contest we have right now is so important. Our goal is to get to the BIG EAST Tournament so we have to win these games to get ourselves there."
Peters scored twice, and Doherty, Alexa Kunowsky, Emma Dagres, Meggie Ramzy and MacKenzie Lange also chipped in goals. It was Lange's first goal of the season. Peters, Kunowsky and Dagres added assists. Doherty surpassed her previous career high of four assists and had three assists by halftime.
"Their cuts were really on point," Doherty said of her teammates. "So that made it easy to feed the ball. They were getting good seperation from their defenders, which really helps. And they were just finishing their shots (inside the eight-meter mark)."
Senior Maddie Kratz made her fourth straight starts and had nine saves and a career-high four ground balls. Alex Duckenfield, the reigning BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week, had three caused turnovers. Dagres collected a career-high four draw controls for the second straight game and Lockwood also tied a career-high with four draws in addition to her season-high three goals.
"Amanda Lockwood had a big day," Swezey said. "She earned her first start back (since March 15 against Penn State). She was sharp. She was a big contributor for us and we're real proud of her for that. She has been building up (to this start). Yesterday (in practice) she had a stellar day. We were already thinking about (starting her), but she had this huge practice yesterday."
Vanderbilt returns home to play Connecticut at 1 p.m. on Sunday at the VU Lacrosse Complex. The Commodores will hold a Senior Day ceremony 20 minutes before opening draw to honor seniors Alex Duckenfield, Meggie Ramzy, Maddie Kratz, Gabby Nesi, Maggie Forker and Rebecca Ryan.
"We feel great," Doherty said. "We know a couple things we need to work on, trying to capitalize on some of the mistakes we made. We're going to come out strong. I think we are very confident right now. Our attack is looking a little better. Hopefully we can keep it going for the next couple days of practice and come out strong against UConn."