WLAX falls at home to Pitt in season opener

Dylan Fister | Staff Photographer | Members of the Duquesne women’s lacrosse team gather prior to Saturday’s season-opening contest against Pittsburgh at Rooney Field. The Dukes fell to the Panthers by a 16-10 score.

Sean O’Donnell | Staff Writer

Feb. 16, 2023

The Duquesne women’s lacrosse team dropped a 16-10 contest in their season opener against Pitt on Saturday afternoon at Rooney Field.

The game started with Pitt attackers Camdyn O’Donnell and Sydney Naylor filling up the stat sheet.

O’Donnell scored the game’s first goal less than four minutes in, as she came sprinting from behind the goal launching a successful shot to give the Panthers an early lead.

After Duquesne’s opening goal came from Mackenzie Leszczynski to even the score at 1, three-consecutive scores from Naylor and O’Donnell extended Pitt’s lead to 4-1, a lead that the Dukes would be chasing for the remainder of the day. The duo each ended the day with three goals.

Despite Leszczynski’s offensive output, Pitt was always in control thanks in part to separate 5-0 runs in the first and second quarters that helped the Panthers see their lead balloon to a game-high nine goals (12-3).

Duquesne Head Coach Corinne Desrosiers said that the team “got caught in [their] heels at the beginning of the game.”

“Just not used to the speed at which Pitt was attacking the cage and some of the shot selections we were seeing,” Desrosiers said. “Once we figured that out, we played a really good rest of the game,” Desrosiers said. “We progressed really well as a team.”

Duquesne went into the locker room at halftime down 12-4, but the Dukes returned to the field for the second half looking like a completely different team.

The Dukes started the second half scoring four-straight goals to trim the deficit from eight goals to four goals, but four Pitt scores in the fourth quarter, combined with the large first-half deficit, was too much for Duquesne to overcome.

Three of Duquesne’s four-straight second-half goals came from Jillian Caroselli, whose second goal of the day came off the first-career assist from freshman Chelsea Evans. Caroselli took the pass and rifled in a goal to the lower-left corner, which had made the score 12-7 Pitt.

Perhaps Caroselli’s most-impressive goal was her third of the day to complete the hat trick. She received a pass from Evans, once again, and threw a missile into the goal.

“We saw they were blocking off one of our main players, Delaney [Rodriguez-Shaw],” Caroselli said. “We changed our tactics in the second half. We made a pact in the middle, so I took it out on the outside to open up space.”

Leszczynski (fifth of her career) and Caroselli (third of her career) both recorded a hat trick in the defeat.

“Jill and Mackenzie got themselves in the right spots for their zone defense,” Desrosiers said. “That was really, really good for us.”

“Our offense as a whole really understood toward the second half how to start moving their zone slides a little bit more,” Desrosiers said.

Along with two assists to Caroselli, Evans also scored her first-career goal in the contest.

“She’s just very smart on the field,” Caroselli said about Evans. “I feel like she’s going to bring a lot of points for us this year.”

“She had a really nice goal on the outside,” Desrosiers said about Evans. “Chelsea will be a big player for this program in her four years. The thing I like most about her is her composure. It’s tough to shake her.”

With Duquesne’s starting goalie Rachel O’Toole allowing 10 goals in 20:44 of game time, Desrosiers moved Mady Piersielak into the goal for the final 39:16.

Piersielak made some impressive saves, finishing the game with six of Duquesne’s nine saves.

“Mady was able to step up,” Desrosiers said. “We’re really grateful to have multiple great goalies.”

The Dukes will be back in action Thursday afternoon, when they host Kent State at Rooney Field. Duquesne and the Golden Flashes have played in each of the last two seasons, with the Dukes winning by an average margin of 13.5 goals per game (22-6 in 2021, 15-4 in 2022).