March 4, 2014
Suffice to say, the Vanderbilt lacrosse team shook a huge monkey off its back over the weekend.
Now, the Commodores look to sustain the momentum as they wrap up a three-game road trip.
Vanderbilt takes on Denver at 3 p.m. (CST) on Wednesday just days after knocking off No. 13 Stanford by rallying from a five-goal deficit in the second half for a 16-15 victory in overtime. It was the first win over a ranked opponent for the Commodores since April 1, 2012, ending a slump of 15 straight losses to ranked foes.
This will be the fourth meeting in the series as Vanderbilt holds a 2-1 edge. Denver won the most recent meeting, 10-9, last year in Nashville. The Pioneers (2-1) were previously ranked 18th in the country but dropped out after suffering their first loss on Saturday to Louisville.
The Commodores (3-2) have surpassed last year’s win total and are trying to win consecutive games for the first time since April 1-4, 2012. Vanderbilt averages 14 goals a game, with attackers Abby Wheeler (14 goals) and Mallory Schonk (11 goals and 14 assists) leading the way.
A road trip that started with a loss to No. 1 North Carolina on Feb. 22 and has included more than 5,000 miles of travel round trip wraps up Wednesday. The Commodores then have 10 days between games before hosting Penn State in their American Lacrosse Conference opener on March 15 at the VU Lacrosse Complex.
IN HER WHEEL HOUSE
Abby Wheeler compiled one of the best performances in Vanderbilt history during Sunday’s win at No. 13 Stanford. The senior captain from Charlottesville, Va., set a career-high with seven goals in a 16-15 victory, including two goals in the last 34 seconds of overtime. She also added an assist and a draw control for a total of eight points.
The seven goals were the second-most in a single game by a Vanderbilt player and one shy of the program record of eight set by Sue Napolitano on March 25, 1996 against Virginia Tech in the first year of the program.
Wheeler, who scored 28 goals last year, now leads the team with 14 goals. She was honored twice this week, named the WomensLax.com Player of the Week and the ALC Offensive Player of the Week.
NO SLOWING SCHONK
Mallory Schonk has been one of the Commodores’ most consistent offensive players this season. The sophomore attacker from Perry Hall, Md., leads the team and ranks third in the conference with 25 points. She is tied for sixth in the country with 14 assists and is second on the team, behind Wheeler, with 11 goals.
Twice this year she has dished out a career-high five assists, most recently on Sunday against Stanford. She set up Wheeler on both the game-tying and game-winning goals in overtime. She has also scored at least two goals in three games and tied a career-high with four goals against Massachusetts on Feb. 9.
The Commodores have enjoyed life on the road so far. They’ve picked up wins at Kennesaw State and then-No. 13 Stanford and have just one road blemish – a loss to No. 1 North Carolina.
The two road wins are the most in two years and a vast improvement from last season when Vanderbilt failed to win away from Nashville. The last time the Commodores won three games on the road was 2011 with wins at Presbyterian, Jacksonville and Johns Hopkins.
The comeback and upset of No. 13 Stanford didn’t go unnoticed. On Monday, the Commodores received votes in the weekly national rankings by the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA).