Benjamin Gottschalk | Staff Writer
April 7, 2022
In a back-and-forth nail-biter that went down to the wire on Sunday, Duquesne’s women’s lacrosse team was leading for nearly the entire game before VCU scored six goals in the fourth quarter to win by a 13-10 mark, handing the Dukes their fourth loss in a row.
Duquesne got out to a very strong start, scoring two goals and contributing to VCU’s nine turnovers during the opening quarter.
Dukes attacker Delaney Rodriguez-Shaw said that the turnovers were crucial because, from the beginning, Duquesne was able to capitalize and get out in front. She also said the turnovers contributed to finding a level of comfort early on.
“Once we were able to have the ball, stay calm and play our game, I think it worked out well to get that 2-0 lead at the beginning of the game,” Rodriguez-Shaw said.
She opened the second-quarter scoring, pushing Duquesne’s lead up to three.
The Rams caught up to the Dukes, evening the score at four heading into halftime. VCU neutralized Duquesne’s scoring attack thanks, at least in part, to goalkeeper Meghna Dawar who made 10 of her 12 saves on the afternoon during the game’s first half.
“Going into the game, our coach [Head Coach Corinne Desrosiers] told us that she had a great percentage for saves, so we really worked on our shot selection and our fake-high, shoot-low, and really make sure we are moving around before we get a good shot,” Rodriguez-Shaw said.
The Dukes used the third quarter to their advantage after two goals from Julie Cassidy and one goal from Ciara Curtis put Duquesne up 7-4 about halfway through the quarter. Curtis, who ended the day with three goals, said that she’s adapting to a new role.
“I recently got moved to midfield this year. I’ve been a defender my whole life,” Curtis said. “In practice, I’ve been working with my coaches and my teammates, who have been helping me out with shots, shot placement and being confident.
“It’s definitely been a great learning experience for me, and I’ve learned to have confidence in myself.”
Rodriguez-Shaw said that Curtis’ new position suits her well
“It is great that Ciara has started to become a dominant player on the attack since she has always been a defender,” Rodriguez-Shaw said. “She was a secret weapon that Richmond and VCU weren’t ready for, which worked out for our offense.”
VCU swiftly responded to all of the momentum swings, and the score was deadlocked at seven until Duquesne’s Mackenzie Leszczynski broke the tie with just four seconds to go in the third quarter.
After Curtis added an insurance goal to make it 9-7 early in the fourth quarter, the Rams scored three goals of their own to grab a 10-9 advantage. Curtis scored her third of the day to tie it at 10 with 7:22 to go, but VCU would score three more times and hold Duquesne off the board to secure a three-goal victory.
One contributing factor to the game slipping away was discipline. Prior to Sunday, Duquesne had been assessed eight yellow cards all season. On Sunday, the Dukes were dealt six yellow cards.
“I think that the game on Sunday was pretty rough on both teams,” Curtis said. “I think that people were getting frustrated, and the refs were calling things from what they saw them as, and you kind of just have to go with what the refs say, which is kind of frustrating.
“But it’s also a learning experience, when you have those yellow cards, to just take a step back and take a breather,” Curtis said.
Toward the end of the game, the Rams won the majority of draw controls, allowing them to maintain possession and keep most of the action at their offensive end.
“I believe that the draw controls were a really big part of the game,” Curtis said. “In the final quarter, we just weren’t getting as many as we needed. We were still hustling throughout the entire game, but it really did come down to the draw controls and the calls that the refs were making.
“I believe that if we won more draw controls, then we could have won that game.”
Rodriguez-Shaw said that Desrosiers was proud of the team for “[their] will to never give up and fight through all the things that were going wrong in the game.”
After Sunday’s loss to VCU and a 17-8 defeat at the hands of No. 19-ranked Richmond on Friday, Duquesne left Richmond, Va., without a victory.
The Dukes will return to action this Friday, when they take on Davidson in a road contest, looking to salvage a win for the first time since they defeated Butler on March 20.