After a foul was called on SUNY Cortland, sophomore midfielder Lauren Pigott readied herself for the free-position opportunity. With only Red Dragons goalkeeper Shauna Hutchinson in her path, Pigott sent a shot into the back of the net, giving the College a 7-6 lead.
The No. 4-ranked Red Dragons’ aggressiveness certainly helped the No. 3-ranked Lions, who capitalized on four out of five free-position shots, but it also propelled them to a 9-8 victory over the Lions, who were forced into 12 turnovers.
“Cortland was a very physical team and put a lot of pressure in the midfield and on our attack,” senior midfielder Leigh Mitchell said. “We needed to take better care of the ball in the physical, high pressure situations.”
The Lions were held to a season-low eight goals on 18 shots in the loss to the Red Dragons.
“We had our moments where we connected with each other and were able to score, but there were also times that we forced passes and didn’t place our shots which really hurt us in the end,” said Alex Spark, who led the Lions’ offense with four goals.
Spark started the scoring early on as she put the Lions ahead 1-0 in the first five minutes of the contest. The two teams would trade goals back and forth after that with the Lions holding a 6-4 lead heading into halftime.
However, with Hutchinson playing an improved game in the net in the second half, the Red Dragons were quickly able to even the score with goals coming from seniors Lindsay Abbott and Erin Kollar.
Pigott’s lone goal of the contest put the Lions back out front, but it would be the last time the Lions would hold the advantage.
“They played good defense when we were trying to move the ball from our defensive end into our attacking end, which made it very difficult (to score),” Spark said.
Sophomore attacker Jen Garavente, who notched two goals, added that the Red Dragons “did a good job at shutting down our usual ‘go-to’ options on attack.”
While Cortland held the Lions to one goal during the last 25 minutes of play, the Red Dragons were able to tally three.
“Our defense was well prepared and played pretty steady during the game,” Mitchell said. “We had a few more lapses in the second half which ended up hurting us in the close game.”
Mitchell was the most active Lion on the defensive front, compiling three ground balls, three draw controls and two caused turnovers. Pigott, who has twice been named NJAC Defender of the Week, was also a force for the Lions with four ground balls and three turnovers.
Although it came on the losing end, sophomore goalkeeper Kelsey Zinck had a career day as she stopped a season-high nine shots.
The Lions, who now sit at 5-1, look to learn from the loss and put it behind them, according to Mitchell, when they face off against Cabrini College on Saturday, March 24.
“The team has learned a lot from this loss and was able to see some things we need to fix that we may have overlooked had we come away with a win,” Mitchell said. “I think if we tighten up some of our mistakes we should bounce back and be ready and stronger for upcoming games.”