The Game: Vanderbilt Lacrosse at St. Joseph's
The Time: Sunday, March 11 at 11 a.m. CT
The Place: Sweeney Field, Philadelphia, Pa.
The Broadcast: Atlantic 10 Network (Subscription Required)
Vanderbilt lacrosse can secure the best seven-game start in program history Sunday when the Commodores (5-1, 0-0 BIG EAST) face St. Joseph's (2-3, 0-0 Atlantic 10) in Philadelphia at 11 a.m. CT.
The game concludes the Dores' spring break trip to Philadelphia, which started with a double overtime win over La Salle on Thursday night. Emily Mathewson's game-winning goal ended the three-and-a-half hour marathon, played in freezing temperatures under the lights.
"I think we overcame a lot of adversity," Vanderbilt head coach Cathy Swezey said. "I don't think that we played the way we want to play, I don't think we had our best showing... To have those kinds of challenges along the way [and] find ways to win in hard situations, I think you grow from it."
Vanderbilt led for just five minutes over the course of the contest, but held La Salle scoreless for the final 17 minutes and 38 seconds of action. The Commodore defense, which leads the nation with 13.50 caused turnovers per game, helped the team come away with its first one-goal win since 2016 and the program's first overtime win since 2014.
"It's big, it's really big," Swezey said about the tight victory. "These guys just have a very diligent work ethic and thick skin. They know how to step up when they need to."
Mathewson, a Philadelphia native, scored four goals in the win and leads the Commodores with 29 points on 22 goals and seven assists this season. The sophomore attacker has already surpassed the 17 goals she scored as a freshman and is one point away from matching her 2017 season total.
"She's a girl who works her tail off every single day," Swezey said. "She works really hard at getting a lot of leverage on her shots and getting power on them. She's just a great shooter and Philadelphia is a great place for her to play."
Vanderbilt is 5-1 for the first time since 2012, and a win Sunday would give the Commodores six wins through their first seven games for the first time in program history, with conference play waiting in the wings next week.
Opening draw between Vanderbilt and St. Joe's is 11 a.m. CT Sunday at Sweeney Field in Philadelphia. A live video stream will be available with a subscription to the A-10 Network.
This is the fourth meeting in lacrosse between Vanderbilt and St. Joseph's, and the first since head coach Cathy Swezey's first season leading the Commodores in 1998. The teams met in VU's first three seasons of Division I lacrosse (1996-98), with all three games taking place in Philadelphia. Vanderbilt leads the series, 2-1.
Averaging out the Joe's
St. Joseph's is 2-3 this season, with wins over Central Connecticut State and BIG EAST foe Temple and losses to BIG EAST opponents Georgetown and Villanova. The Hawks are coming off a 16-11 home loss to Navy on Tuesday, and have lost two straight.
Despite leading for just five out of 65 minutes in the game, Vanderbilt topped La Salle, 11-10 in double overtime, on Thursday night. The Dores held the Explorers scoreless for the final 17 minutes and 38 seconds of play after Rachel Ceplo's goal put La Salle ahead 10-8 with 13:11 left in regulation. VU scored the last three goals to earn the walk-off win in the second overtime period.
Bucking the Trend
Vanderbilt's 11-10, double overtime win at La Salle Thursday ended a six-game losing streak in one-goal games, dating back to the 2016 season. Vanderbilt's last one-goal win was against Elon on February 28, 2016, and the 2017 Commodores were 0-3 in one-goal games. The win was also VU's first overtime game since April 8, 2015, and the Dores' first overtime win since March 29, 2014, a 12-11 win over Johns Hopkins.
Vanderbilt has been represented on the BIG EAST Weekly Awards in all four editions of this season's conference honors. Detailed recaps of each honoree's performances can be found in the notes below.
Vanderbilt's 2018 BIG EAST Weekly Award Winners:
- Week 4: Kayla Peterson, BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll
- Week 3: Julie Blaze, BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll
- Week 2: Gabrielle Fornia, BIG EAST Freshman of the Week
- Week 1: Julie Blaze, BIG EAST Midfielder of the Week
Rewriting the Record Book
Senior attacker Kayla Peterson tied the Vanderbilt record for goals in a game on Tuesday, February 27, when she scored eight times in a 17-15 loss to Louisville, and was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll on Tuesday. Peterson matched Sue Napolitano's record, set on March 25, 1996, against Virginia Tech in Vanderbilt's first year of Division I lacrosse. Peterson was born 182 days later, on September 23, 1996. Peterson's performance is the first eight-goal game in Cathy Swezey's 21 years as Vanderbilt's head coach, dating back to the 1998 season.
Leading the Nation
Vanderbilt's offense is first nationally with 38.00 shots per game and 29.33 shots on goal per game, and the Commodore defense is tops in the country with 13.50 caused turnovers per game.
Beasts of the BIG EAST
Vanderbilt leads the BIG EAST Conference in five major team categories, and also ranks in the top 10 nationally in those same statistics (NCAA rankings in parentheses):
- Scoring Offense: 17.33 Goals per Game (third nationally)
- Shots per Game: 38.00 (first nationally)
- Shots on Goal per Game: 29.33 (first nationally)
- Scoring Margin: +6.33 Goals per Game (sixth nationally)
- Caused Turnovers per Game: 13.50 (first nationally)
Blaze Earns Another BIG EAST Honor
Junior midfielder Julie Blaze was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll for Week 3 of the 2018 season on February 27 after her five-point game against Furman on February 24. The award marks Blaze's second career appearance on the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll and her third conference honor of the season. Blaze was named BIG EAST Midfielder of the Week for Week 1 on February 13 and was Vanderbilt's lone representative on the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team, as named by the league's coaches in January. Vanderbilt has had a player named on all three editions of the BIG EAST Weekly Awards this season.
Back on the Ballot
Vanderbilt was one of eight teams receiving votes in the Inside Lacrosse Media Poll that debuted on Monday, February 26 (Week 3). This is Vanderbilt's first inclusion in the poll since April 2012, when the Commodores were ranked 19th in the final week of the regular season.
Fornia Earns BIG EAST Freshman of the Week Honor
Vanderbilt freshman attacker Gabrielle Fornia became the team's second player in as many weeks to be honored by the BIG EAST on February 20. Fornia was named the BIG EAST Freshman of the Week for Week 2 of the season after her two-goal, two-assist performance in the Dores' 22-12 win over Fresno State on February 19. Fornia's two goals were her first as a collegiate player.
Mathewson's Career Day
Sophomore attacker Emily Mathewson led the Commodore charge in Vandy's 22-12 win at Fresno State on February 19, scoring a career-high six goals in the win and surpassing her previous mark of five, set against Villanova on March 17, 2017. The sophomore led the way in a very on-target game for Vanderbilt's shooters, as 37 of the team's 39 shots were on goal.
Blaze Named BIG EAST Midfielder of the Week
On February 13, junior midfielder Julie Blaze was named the BIG EAST Midfielder of the Week for her Week 1 performance. Blaze scored six points (four goals, two assists) in Vanderbilt's 18-14 win over Kennesaw State on Sunday, February 18. She filled up the stat sheet by claiming four draw controls and three ground balls in the tight road win. This was Blaze's first career Midfielder of the Week award, adding to her honors of 2018 Preseason All-BIG EAST, 2017 first-team All-BIG EAST and one BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll in Week 1 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-: 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 is in 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 161-172, 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, .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. Vanderbilt is 2-0 in 2018 when holding their opponent under 10, and 3-1 when allowing double digit goals.
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.