A few days after a scoring outpour against Cabrini College, the College struggled to find an offensive groove as they watched their 24-game winning streak come to an end in a 5-1 loss to No. 10 Montclair State University on Saturday, Oct. 6.
While the Red Hawks were able to pressure the College’s defense with 11 shots on goal, the No. 3-ranked Lions only managed to direct three shots at the cage.
“We were in a position where we had to take more shots.” head coach Sharon Pfluger said. “We got the ball downfield and got in the circle, but we didn’t get anything off of that and we need to.”
The loss was the Lions’ (10-1) first in almost a year — the last one coming at the hands of Salisbury University on Oct. 9, 2011.
Although the Lions played poorly in the first half, according to Pfluger, the score at the break only read 1-0 after a Red Hawk goal with 33 seconds left in the half. However, Montclair was able to extend their lead to 2-0 shortly after the second period began when senior midfielder/forward Frances Schaefer tallied her second goal of the contest.
As the College attempted to get their offense in gear, the Red Hawks – who fell to the Lions twice in 2011 – kept the pressure on and kept the Lions away from the cage.
That hustle allowed the Red Hawks to create more opportunities for themselves and senior forward Kate Norgard paid the dividends, notching a pair of goals in a four-minute span.
“(In this game), the breakdowns were higher on the field and I think Montclair got momentum,” Pfluger said. “We’ve been on the other side where you get momentum and everybody starts playing well and even if you make a mistake, you make up for it. So, I think (for Montclair) it was just that emotional momentum thing.”
Senior midfielder Camille Passucci noted the Lions’ defense just wasn’t “in groove or connecting and Montclair took advantage of that.”
Freshman goalkeeper Roisin Dougherty made four saves in her first collegiate loss, but a barrage of Red Hawk shots just proved to be overwhelming. Senior Christy Wham made two defensive saves on top of Dougherty’s stops, but Pfluger believes that overall her defense just did not play up to its full ability.
“I don’t think that we played as smart as we could have,” Pfluger said. “I felt like we kept making the same mistakes. It was hard to stop what we were doing wrong even though we were telling them. It was kind of like we weren’t feeling it.”
The Lions were finally able to break through and get on the board in the second half off a penalty corner when sophomore midfielder Erin Waller made it a 4-1 game, finding the back of the cage after receiving a swift pass from Passucci.
“There was a point where I thought to myself, ‘Wow, they just have to play,’” Pfluger said. “They couldn’t really absorb anymore and they just had to play and work it through and that’s what happened when we scored.”
The Lions’ offense was night and day during their two games this week as they saw five different players score in a 5-1 victory over Cabrini College on Thursday, Oct. 4.
Passucci netted the first goal of the game and was followed by senior forwards Caitlyn Jenkins and Jillian Nealon as well as sophomore midfielders Lauren Pigott and Victoria Martin.
“(Against Cabrini), we had a lot of off-ball movement,” Passucci said. “A lot of the forwards and midfielders were interchanging, so it allowed a lot of different people to get in the circle to score.”
Despite being 10-1, the same record they had last year at this point, there will be a bad taste in the Lions’ mouths until they erase the memory of what losing feels like when they next take the field, according to Passucci. It’s a motivation that will have the Lions more focused than ever.
“Losing never feels good and we really hate to lose,” Passucci said. “We were reminded of that feeling (against Montclair) and we are motivated more than ever to not feel like that again.”