By George Tatoris
The Lions plowed through unranked Ursinus College, 11-1, on Tuesday, March 22. The team pushed back against No. 12 ranked Messiah College on Thursday, March 24, defeating them, 13-6, but suffered their first loss this season against top-ranked State University of New York (SUNY) at Cortland, 16-9, on Saturday, March 26.
The Lions are 7-1 after the Cortland game and they moved up the coaches’ poll from fourth to third.
“At the start of the game we were excited, but definitely nervous since the majority of us have never played Cortland before,” junior attacker Mia Blackman said.
The Red Dragons were relentless. By the end of the game, they had made 35 shots against the Lions.
Freshman goaltender Miranda Chrone explained one the Red Dragon’s maneuvers which had the Lions on edge.
“Even though I knew they were cutting through the middle, they were smart and acted as if they were going to crease roll,” Chrone said. “So I had to respect the girl with the ball, which left me less time to turn my head and get into position for the girl in the middle.”
Senior attacker Cortney Natalicchio opened the scoring in the game, but her goal was swiftly answered by the Red Dragons opponents — the two players scored three goals in 49 seconds.
Over the next 14 minutes, the Red Dragons added three more goals while their goaltender thwarted each of the Lions’s shots. With less than 10 minutes remaining, sophomore defender Elizabeth Morrison put another tally on the board for the Lions, but by then the Red Dragons were ahead, 6-2.
For the remainder of the game, the Lions were playing catch up.
“The hardest part was playing our game instead of reacting to the game they were giving us, especially since we know we are better than how we played,” junior attacker Mia Blackman said.
Whenever the Lions pushed, the Red Dragons pushed back. After Morrison’s goal, Natalicchio scored another, making it a three-point contest, but Cortland made two more goals, ending the period, 8-3.
The tug-of-war continued into the second half. Cortland made three goals and the Lions answered with three of their own, making it a five-point match, but this is as close as the Lions would get to Cortland in the second half.
In the final 10 minutes of play, the Red Dragons made five more goals while the Lions only made three, making the final a loss, 16-9.
The fight against the Red Dragons brought out the best in the team.
Senior midfielder Megan Devlin had five caused turnovers. Combined, Cortland only had two additional turnovers.
Chrone made nine saves, a season- and career-best for the rookie.
“This game showed me how on the ball you have to be at all times in order to come out on top against good competition,” Chrone said.
Chrone nearly shut out Ursinus College earlier in the week on Tuesday, March 22, but a goal in the last 40 seconds put the Bears on the board, ending the game, 11-1.
“I do have to give them credit, though, because they never stopped,” Chrone said. “They were looking for a goal the whole game and ended up getting it in the last minute of the game. I tried my best, but couldn’t get to it.”
Though Ursinus was unranked, the Lions had trouble scoring on them at first.
After eight minutes, there was only one goal on the board, which was from Mia Blackman, unusual in a usually high-scoring sport. It wasn’t until a timeout and some advice from Head Coach Sharon Pfluger were they able to get the ball rolling.
“At the timeout, coach told us to stop rushing through things and just read the situations so we could capitalize on the openings,” Blackman said.
Blackman scored the first goal after the timeout. From then on it was smooth-sailing for the Lions.
With just one day of practice, the Lions played the Messiah College Falcons on Thursday, March 24, taking home a 13-6 win.
The Lions and the Falcons went at it with zeal from the start — in the first 10 minutes, there were seven goals between the two teams.
The Falcons had the first goal, but sophomore attacker Amanda Muller tied it up quickly. At the break, the Lions were ahead, 7-4, but that changed in the second half.
Thanks to a strong performance from Morrison, the Falcons were kept from scoring again until the last five minutes of the game. Morrison took control whenever the ball was in the backfield. She ended the game with five ground balls, five draw controls and an impressive eight caused turnovers.
While the Lions ended the week with a loss, they remain positive.
“Even though it didn’t end how we would have liked, we now know what we have to work on and it’s going to make us grow stronger as a team,” Chrone said.