Lions lose a heartbreaker to No. 1 Salisbury University

Junior attacker Trenna Hill aligned herself and let the thoughts of scoring a goal roll through her mind before the whistle blew, then put the College ahead 10-9 on a free-position opportunity with 15:07 left to play against No. 1-ranked Salisbury University.

The Lions took a 10-9 lead but squandered it, losing 12-10. (Lisa Nitzsche / Staff Photographer)

The lead would not stand though as the No. 6-ranked Lions (11-2) were held scoreless for the reminder of the game, eventually falling to the Sea Gulls (12-0) by a score of 12-10.

“We didn’t score in the last 15 minutes of the game, which definitely killed us,” said Hill, who finished the game with four goals. “They capitalized on our defensive mistakes, and we didn’t play as smart as we should have on offense.”

The ending of this top-10 matchup was a Bizarro version of how the game started, as the Lions raced out to 4-1 in the first 10 minutes.

Leading that charge was sophomore midfielder Lauren Pigott, who came out like a woman on a mission as she scored three of the College’s first four goals and grabbed two of the game’s first five draw controls.

“(Pigott) made a great impact,” head coach Sharon Pfluger said. “She’s a midfielder that could score a ton of goals if she was just on the offensive end. She’s a great athlete and a perfect fit for our program as a player and a person.”

The Lions’ prowess was met with plenty of hostility from Salisbury though with the Sea Gulls rallying to get back to even. Salisbury would score three straight goals before Pigott broke up their streak with her fourth and final goal of the game.

“I think we played a great game overall,” Pfluger said. “I think we had a lull with the defensive ball possession in the first half, but we recovered from that.”

Junior attacker Alex Spark helped the recovery process by putting the Lions ahead 6-5, but a last-second score by Salisbury’s Katie Bollhort made the score an even 6-6 split at the half.

Hill didn’t let the Lions stay even for long, scoring on another free-position shot to commence the scoring in the second half.

“I definitely think my shots were a big component in my game (against Salisbury),” Hill said. “I was seeing the cage well and the ball felt good in my stick.”

The rest of the game can be summed up with three words: tug of war. The Lions and Sea Gulls didn’t give up much ground as neither team led by more than a goal until the 4:02 mark when Bollhorst put the nail in the coffin by making it a 12-10 game.

The Lions had their fair share of opportunity in those last 15 minutes, but the Sea Gulls’ Ashton Wheatley was a rock for Salisbury, shutting down any attempt the Lions threw at her.

“I think she was very athletic and I think she was a good goalie, but I think some of our shots we shot right at her head,” Pfluger said. “I think the hard work was done, but we didn’t hit on our chances.

“The game comes down to these moments where you think, ‘Oh my god, this so could have been fixed, this so could have been fixed.’”

The Lions will have a few weeks to fix any mistakes in time for the playoffs, but Hill views this loss as not only a lesson, but also as motivation going forward.

“If anything, I think this loss has made us even hungrier for revenge, which seems to be a big theme lately on our team,” Hill said. “I also think this loss has taught us how crucial it is to put two good halves together. Lacrosse is a game of momentum and we have to be able to finish.”