The Game: Vanderbilt Lacrosse at Kennesaw State
The Time: Sunday, February 11 at 11 a.m. central time
The Place: Fifth Third Bank Stadium - Kennesaw, Ga.
The Broadcast: Facebook Live video available at Facebook.com/KennesawStateOwls
Nashville, Tenn.— Entering her 21st season as the head coach of Vanderbilt Lacrosse, Cathy Swezey has high expectations for her 2018 group as they hit the road to open the year on Sunday against Kennesaw State.
Picked to finish sixth in the Big East this season after posting a record of 6-9 (3-6 Big East) in 2017, Coach Swezey is excited about the team speed her new group offers.
“We came into [preseason practice] with hopes that we’d be a faster squad and we are,” Swezey said. “I think our team mantra has become ‘think fast, practice fast, play fast,’ and I think the girls have really bought into it. I think our team speed is strong and whenever you can integrate the IQ of the game with that team speed, you’re going to be able to play top notch.”
The key cog in Vanderbilt’s speed game is junior midfielder Julie Blaze, who led the Commodores with 33 goals as a sophomore in 2017, becoming the first sophomore to lead the team in goals since 1999, earning first team All-Big East honors. Blaze was also named to the 2018 preseason All-BIG EAST team by the league’s coaches.
“We expect her to continue to be a rare high scoring midfielder,” Swezey said. “She is one of the hardest working players I’ve ever seen, and I think she earned that [All-BIG EAST] honor because of how she can affect the game in so many ways.”
The Commodores enter the season with a pair of sophomore goalies, redshirt sophomore Lily Argyle and true sophomore Madison Foglio, after the graduation of three year starter Callahan Kent.
Three days before the opening draw, Coach Swezey said she was extremely pleased with both goalies and had not yet picked a starter for Sunday’s opener. Swezey identified Foglio as a more aggressive goalkeeper, while Argyle is more comfortable staying in the goal circle and is strongest on low shots. Foglio made three starts and six appearances in 2017, while Argyle started two games and appeared in seven.
This will be the fifth straight season that Vanderbilt has played its opening game against Kennesaw State, and the Commodores are 5-0 all time against the Owls. Opening draw on Sunday is at 11 a.m. central time, with the game broadcast on Facebook Live at Facebook.com/KennesawStateOwls. Follow @VanderbiltLax on Twitter for live game updates.
Vanderbilt is 5-0 all-time against Kennesaw State, with the teams meeting in each of the past five seasons and the Commodores outscoring the Owls 99-20 in those five games. All five meetings have come in February, with the teams alternating sites each year since the first meeting in Nashville in 2013. Vanderbilt is 2-0 in games at Kennesaw State. This will be the fifth consecutive season in which Vanderbilt has faced Kennesaw State in its season opener.
Vanderbilt defeated Kennesaw State on February 11, 2017 by a final score of 17-5 at the VU Soccer/Lacrosse Complex in the season opener for both teams. Julie Blaze led the Commodores with a career-high five goals, with Kayla Peterson and Caroline Peters each scoring three. The 17 goal output was the Commodores’ third highest of the 2017 season.
The Big East coaches picked Vanderbilt to finish sixth in the conference’s preseason poll, tied with Marquette for the sixth spot in the 10 team league. Midfielder Julie Blaze was named to the preseason All-BIG EAST team.
BIG EAST Women’s Lacrosse Preseason Coaches’ Poll:
1. Florida (9 first place votes)
2. Denver (1)
Vanderbilt lacrosse joining American Athletic Conference in 2019
The Vanderbilt lacrosse program announced in October that it will join the American Athletic Conference as an affiliate member for the league’s inaugural season of women’s lacrosse in 2019. Current BIG EAST members Cincinnati, Connecticut, Florida and Temple will make the move with Vanderbilt, joining East Carolina—currently a D-1 independent—to comprise the six team league.
Vanderbilt Lacrosse historic conference affiliation:
2019-present: American Athletic Conference
2015-2018 (4 seasons): Big East Conference
2002-2014 (13 seasons): American Lacrosse Conference (founding member)
1996-2001 (6 seasons): No conference affiliation
Coach Cathy Swezey
Head Coach Cathy Swezey enters her 21st season leading the Commodores. Swezey was hired as Vanderbilt’s second ever women’s lacrosse head coach before the 1998 season. Her overall record as Vanderbilt’s head coach is 155-171 through 20 full seasons, including six NCAA Tournament appearances and a national semifinals berth in 2004.
Set the Field A-Blaze
Junior Julie Blaze led Vanderbilt with 33 goals as a sophomore in 2017, becoming the first sophomore to lead the Commodores in goals since April Tellam, who scored 42 goals in 1999. Blaze also finished the year second on the team in points (38), fourth in caused turnovers (12) and draw controls (22) and fifth in ground balls (18), earning first-team All-BIG EAST honors.
Back in Black (And Gold)
The 2018 Commodores return 65% of the team’s goal scoring from last season, with just 62 out of 177 goals graduating from the program.
2017 Vanderbilt Goal Leaders (BOLD = Returning)
1. Julie Blaze, 33 goals
2. Jill Doherty, 31 goals
3. Kayla Peterson, 30 goals
4. Emily Mathewson, 17 goals
T-5. Caroline Peters, 16 goals
T-5. Melanie Becker, 16 goals
6. MacKenzie Lange, 13 goals
New Faces In Goal
Vanderbilt enters the 2018 season with a tandem of sophomore goalies. Redshirt sophomore Lily Argyle and true sophomore Madison Foglio with take over for graduated senior Callahan Kent. Both players saw their first collegiate action in 2017, with Argyle making three starts and seven appearances (1-1-0 record, 13.13 GAA, and .395 save percentage) and Foglio making three starts and six appearances (1-2-0 record, 11.19 GAA, and .333 save percentage). The duo will combine to succeed three-year starter Callahan Kent, who posted a career record of 12-19-0 in 34 games during her Commodore career.
In 2017, the Dores were 5-0 when holding their opponent under 10 goals in a game and were just 1-9 when allowing 10 or more goals. Vanderbilt’s lone win when allowing double digit goals was a 14-12 win at Villanova on March 18, 2017.
The 90 Second Effect
In the first season of play using the NCAA-mandated 90 second possession clock, Vanderbilt attempted 30.5 shots per game while holding opponents to just 27.4 shots per game. That total gave the Commodores their highest shots per game total since the 2010 season and marked the first time Vanderbilt outshot its opponents since 2013.
Vanderbilt lost all three one-goal games it played in 2017 and has lost six straight one-goal games dating back to the 2016 season. The Commodores’ last one-goal win was against Elon on February 28, 2016. Vanderbilt has not played an overtime game since April 8, 2015, a 10-9 double overtime home loss against Connecticut.