March 18, 2014
A comeback win over No. 13 Stanford on the road two weeks ago was a signature win for the Vanderbilt lacrosse team.
But the Commodores don't want one win to define the season.
With Louisville coming to town, Vanderbilt looks to snap a two-game losing streak and gain momentum as the second half of the season looms. The Commodores host the Cardinals (5-3), who are receiving votes in the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association poll, at 3 p.m. on Wednesday at the VU Lacrosse Complex.
"We always have something to prove - with coming off last year and these two losses," sophomore midfielder Kelly Chandler said. "We want to prove we are a team to compete with. ... We're excited to get another big win."
Since rallying from a five-goal deficit and getting seven goals from Abby Wheeler in a 16-15 overtime victory over Stanford on March 2, the Commodores (3-4) have dropped two straight. They lost 10-8 at Denver on March 5 and on Saturday, to begin a four-game homestand, they suffered a 14-8 loss to No. 11 Penn State in the American Lacrosse Conference opener.
Slow starts doomed Vanderbilt in both games.
Denver scored the first three goals and twice took a three-goal lead in the first half. Vanderbilt actually took back the lead in the second half but failed to hold on. Penn State jumped out to a 4-0 lead, an 8-1 halftime advantage and stretched the margin to 10 goals twice in the second half.
"We are excited for this game and for the chance to play to our potential," coach Cathy Swezey said. "We have yet to put together a 60-minute game and when we do we will be a dangerous team."
Louisville started the season 4-1, picking up wins against now No. 6 Notre Dame and No. 20 Ohio State. But has since lost two of three. The Cardinals (5-3) snapped a two-game losing streak on Saturday with a 16-5 victory over Drexel.
The Cardinals have three players with at least 20 goals this season - Nikki Boltja (31), Faye Brust (24) and Kaylin Morissette (20).
The teams have played every year since 2010, with the series split 2-2. Last March, the Commodores lost 13-10 in Louisville.
"Louisville has always been a high-pressured team," Chandler said. "They are very aggressive. We are going to get mentally tough for that. We have to move the ball and we have to move it well. Our fundamentals have to be there. That is what we have been working on the past few days."
Three Commodores have scored at least 13 goals this season - Wheeler (14), Chandler and sophomore Mallory Schonk (13).
Wheeler, a senior from Charlottesville, Va., doubled her season total with seven goals in one game. Her seven goals, including two in overtime, against Stanford were the second-most in a single game in program history. The captain has scored multiple goals in four games.
Chandler, a native of Salisbury, Md., has also netted four multi-goal games, including two four-goal performances. She tied her career high with four goals against Penn State on Saturday.
Schonk, a sophomore from Perry Hall, Md., leads the team with 29 points and 16 assists. She has scored a goal in every game except Saturday against Penn State. She set a career high in the season opener against Kennesaw State with five assists. She matched that production with five more assists against Stanford.
Twenty-seven players have logged playing time for the Commodores. Fifteen have made starts. And eight have started every game.
Despite several injuries, Vanderbilt has been able to sustain consistency with its starting lineup as eight of the 12 positions have stayed the same every game. Wheeler, Chandler, Schonk, midfielder Alexa Kunowsky, defenders Brandi Byner, Alyssa Dunlap and Gabby Nesi and goalkeeper Maddie Kratz have started all seven games. Dunlap, a senior captain, has started in all 55 games of her career.
Getting the first goal has been a foretelling sign.
Vanderbilt is 3-0 when it scores first and 0-4 when the opponent jumps in front first. Taking a lead into halftime has also been important. The Commodores have won all three games when they've led at the break and have lost all four when they've headed to the locker room trailing with 30 minutes to play.