April 1, 2014
The Vanderbilt lacrosse team is poised to accomplish something it hasn’t done all season – start a winning streak.
Days removed from their first win over a top 10 opponent in two years, the Commodores will try to win consecutive games for the first time this year. VU heads east to play Harvard at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday in Cambridge, Mass. The game will be telecast on ESPN3.com.
Vanderbilt snapped a four-game losing streak on Saturday with an impressive 12-11 win over No.9 Johns Hopkins, which was previously undefeated. It was the program’s first win over a top 10 opponent since a 7-5 victory over No. 5 Duke on Feb. 12, 2012 in the season opener.
The Commodores (4-6, 1-1 American Lacrosse Conference) also picked up their second win over a ranked opponent this season. They knocked off No. 13 Stanford 15-14 on the road in overtime on March 2. But the momentum failed to carry over as VU lost to a Denver team that was receiving votes in the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association national rankings for the first of four straight losses.
“This is the second time we’ve been in a position where we beat a highly ranked team and then go in and play someone who is unranked but very good,” coach Cathy Swezey said. “I think we right now we really have to focus on maintaining our level of intensity and being consistent from game to game and making sure we perform every time we step on the field.”
This will be Vanderbilt’s first trip to Harvard in 17 years. The Commodores are 2-0 against the Crimson, with a 7-6 victory at Harvard on April 4, 1997 and a 15-11 victory in Nashville last year.
The Crimson (4-4, 2-1 Ivy League) have lost three of five and are coming off a 13-9 loss to No. 4 Boston College on March 26. They are led by Megan Hennessey (13 goals, six assists) and Alexis Nicolia (11 goals).
For Vanderbilt, sophomore midfielder Kelly Chandler leads the team with 25 goals and has scored 16 in the past four games. She scored four times in Saturday’s win over Johns Hopkins. Seven VU players scored, including multiple goals from senior attacker Abby Wheeler and sophomore attacker Mallory Schonk.
Overall, Swezey was pleased with how the team played consistently for a full 60 minutes and lauded the defensive effort. Freshman Callahan Kent made her first career start and made three saves. The defensive line of Brandi Byner, Alyssa Dunlap, Alex Duckenfield and Maggie Forker clamped down and Johns Hopkins turned the ball over 21 times, with 10 caused turnovers by the Commodores.
Arguably the biggest defensive play of the game occurred with less than two minutes left when attacker Meggie Ramzy knocked the ball loose from Hopkins’ Haley Schweizer. The ball flew into Duckenfield’s stick and the Commodores ran out the clock.
“Biggest highlight was the defensive performance,” Swezey said. “Our defenders played out of their mind. They bought into a game plan we put in and they just executed it in such a great way. Really pleased with that. Came up with draw controls when we needed to. We finished on attack when we needed to. It really was an exciting, awesome victory for us.”