Natalie Fiorilli | The Duquesne Duke
After a pair of wins at home this weekend, the Duquesne women’s lacrosse team has locked down the number three seed in the upcoming Atlantic 10 Championships. Friday brought a final tally of 12-7 against the Davidson Wildcats and on Sunday the Dukes topped off the George Mason Patriots 13-9. Duquesne completed the regular season with an overall record of 9-8, going 5-3 in conference play.
Davidson struggled to find the back of the net until nearly halfway through the first half, after Duquesne had built a 3-0 lead. The Red & Blue sustained their edge throughout the contest, and when Davidson brought the game to a 2-goal deficit with under five to go, Duquesne buried them with three more. The Dukes managed to outshoot the Wildcats with 30 shots, almost doubling the opponent’s 17. Freshman forward Jill Vacanti and senior midfielder Clare Hurley led Duquesne with 4 goals apiece.
“I knew we needed to make things happen in those two games to extend our season,” Vacanti said. “I knew how much it meant to the seniors and to the whole team to advance, so I just left everything I had on the field.”
In Sunday’s matchup against George Mason, sophomore midfielders Tess Drotar and Kaelin Shaw each scored hat tricks. The competition was head-to-head, and GMU never gave Duquesne a big advantage. The statistics reflected the nearly even score throughout the game; the Dukes put up 28 shots total while the Patriots had 26 of their own, and they shared 9 saves each, as well as 12 draw controls each. Seniors: Hurley, midfielder Amanda Kidder, defender Casey Briglia, midfielder Michelle Morris, and defender Melissa Hanson took part in their final game on Rooney Field Sunday.
In the first half, George Mason let up a lot of free-position shots for Duquesne, allowing eight. Shaw brought Duquesne its first goal within just about three minutes into the game with a shot from the free-position, the Dukes went on to capitalize on four of those eight opportunities. The Red & Blue dominated picking up ground balls, leading George Mason 8-2 in that category. Duquesne struggled to make it to the cage at first due to GMU’s aggressive defense, and only scored 6 on 15 attempts. Going into the second half, the Dukes only had a one goal lead, at 6-5. Although the Patriot’s didn’t allow a lot of room to shoot, Shaw led the Dukes with 8 shots.
“We knew going in that we were going to be more athletic than them and were going to be able to get by them, but in the first half I wasn’t shooting and placing my shots,” Shaw said. “Once we called that first timeout we corrected and understood what we needed to get done to beat them, and we got the shots to fall.”
George Mason came out strong in the second half and found their tying goal within the first three minutes. Duquesne then responded by tallying goals from Hurley, Shaw and Drotar. With under 10 remaining, GMU brought the game to a one goal difference once again, yet the Dukes didn’t let up. Drotar found the back of the net for a pair of goals, freshman midfielder Kenna Gubler had the game-winner and final goal on Rooney Field for the season with 25 seconds left. The Duke’s ability to persist against George Mason’s constant chase contributed to the win.
“We just were not going to let that happen,” Hurley said. “We were confident in how we were playing and how we were going to finish out the game. We finally just had to get on a run to stop that because you can’t let them keep answering ours. It kind of freaks you out a little bit, but then it just gives defense more of an incentive to stop them.”
The Dukes went into the games over the weekend with one thing on their minds, the A-10 Tournament.
“We knew we had to win Friday to stay in the hunt and we knew Sunday that if we won we were in,” Scerbo said. “We were in playoff mode already entering the game Sunday.”
On Friday the Dukes will face the number two seeded team, Richmond in the A-10 Tournament Semifinals in Washington, D.C. The winner will take on either number one Massachusetts or number four George Mason on Sunday, May 3.