Drew White | Staff Writer
The Duquesne lacrosse team dropped its third consecutive game of the season on Sunday, Feb. 25, falling to the Niagara Purple Eagles at home, 17-14.
Duquesne jumped to an early 2-0 lead as senior Jill Vacanti and sophomore Maddie Hart were both able to find the net in the game’s first 35 seconds, but the Purple Eagles stormed back quickly, scoring three goals of their own.
The two teams went back and forth for most of the first half in the high-scoring affair, trading goal for goal and switching back and forth between one-goal leads. After Hart scored her second of the game, putting the Dukes up 7-6 with just over nine minutes to go in the first half, the Dukes seemed to struggle to find the back of the net again.
Niagara went on a 6-0 scoring run, recording the game’s next six goals and holding the Dukes scoreless over the next 16 minutes, taking a 12-7 lead.
The Purple Eagles took their biggest lead of the game at the 13:05 mark, when they increased their lead to six at 15-9.
The Dukes did not go down without a fight though, as they scored four of the contest’s next five goals to close the gap to three goals at 16-13.
That would be the closest the game would be though, as each team traded one more goal apiece and the game finished at 17-14.
The Dukes were paced offensively by two New Jerseyans in Carlee Braverman and Kirsten Barnes, who both recorded a hat trick.
Jill Vacanti, Maddie Hart and Michaela Connolly all tacked on two goals apiece, while Courtney Battles and Haley Matthai each added a goal as well.
Defensively, the Dukes seemed overmatched for most of the game, as they had trouble slowing down the Purple Eagles’ attack all day. Caroline Crump had seven goals for Niagara on 16 shots, and she was able to pace the attack all afternoon.
Two of the biggest issues for the Dukes for most of the game were turnovers and failed clears. Duquesne turned the ball over 25 times compared to just 15 turnovers by the Purple Eagles. The Dukes also struggled on clearing the ball, converting just 15 of their 23 clears.
“I think the biggest thing today was discipline and turnovers,” said second-year Duquesne head coach Lisa Evans postgame. “I thought we were playing in a hurry. We want to play quick, but not in a hurry.”
Goalie Emily McMinimee was peppered with shots for most of the afternoon, as Niagara took 42 shots, managing to get 28 on cage. The senior keeper was able to stop 11 of those for a season-high in saves.
Hart, a sophomore, set a new single-game school record for the Dukes with 13 draw controls. Draw controls, an area where the Dukes struggled last season and have thus far this season, was an area of strength for the Dukes against Niagara, as the Red & Blue won 19 of 32 on the day.
“I think turnovers and transition are the key for this team,” said Evans. “We need to move the ball in transition and get those fast break looks like we did at the beginning of the game here today. If we do that, we will be fine.”
The Dukes travel to play Saint Francis (1-2) on March 1 at 4 p.m. as they still look for their elusive first win of the season.
Duquesne will return home to Arthur J. Rooney Athletic Field on Saturday, March 10, when it will host UMBC at 12 p.m.