By David Borne | Staff Writer
The No. 6 Penn State Nittany Lions women’s lacrosse team ran away from the Duquesne Dukes 19-9 on the shoulders of senior attacker Steph Lazo, who scored five goals for the visitors in the nonconference affair at Arthur J. Rooney Field on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh.
Sophomore midfielder Madison Carter added four goals and freshman attacker Maria Auth tacked on three more off the bench in Penn State’s 19-goal outburst. In total, eight different Nittany Lions (3-0) tallied at least one goal in the scoring column.
“There’s a lot to build off of,” said head coach Lisa Evans “I think Emily McMinimee showed she’s going to be just fine in the cage this year. Our defensive unit really hung tough. I thought Kenna Gubler did an amazing job on Steph Lazo. Lazo is an amazing player, but I think Kenna took her chances and made some plays and looked really awesome for us.”
Carter’s 15th goal of the season and first of the afternoon gave Penn State its first lead of the game at 3-2. That goal was the first of five straight for the Nittany Lions, which grew their lead to 7-2.
With 7:31 left in the opening half, freshman midfielder Rilee Bradshaw scored her first collegiate goal for Duquesne (0-1) to end the long run and cut the deficit to 7-3.
“It feels great,” Bradshaw said of her first goal. “I was so nervous, it was my first college game against the No. 6 team in the country. I couldn’t be more happy with how we played. Obviously we lost, but I think we came together as a team.”
Penn State finished out the half strong, adding four more goals before junior attacker Jill Vacanti scored the final goal of the half. Duquesne trailed 10-4 at the break — the identical halftime score to the one from their matchup with Penn State in 2016.
Vacanti opened the second half just like she did the first and scored her third goal of the day just two minutes into the second half. But the next four goals came from the visitors as they pulled away from the Red & Blue by extending their lead to 14-5. They would remain in control for the remainder of the game as they eventually wrapped it up with a 19-9 score.
Against one of the top teams in the nation, the Dukes proved they could play with the best for spurts, and that was an encouraging sign for a young team. Vacanti and the Dukes struck first,and showed the resiliency to battle back and regain the lead at 2-1 after Lazo scored just 29 seconds after Vacanti.
Vacanti picked up right where she left off after her 47-goal sophomore season by scoring four goals and dishing out one assist against Penn State. Along with Bradshaw’s first and second collegiate goals, junior attacker Rachel Hughes and freshman Maddie Hart both scored their first career goals for Duquesne in the contest.
In the cage, junior Emily McMinimee started the game for the Dukes and made eight saves and allowing 15 goals. Her replacement, freshman Maddy Curtis, made two saves and allowed four goals in just under 18 minutes of action.
The Dukes will face another tough task in their next game on March 3 when they host the Ohio State Buckeyes at 3 p.m. The Buckeyes, who are not currently listed in the national rankings, have received votes in the polls and are a top team.