Coming off of a 14-3 win against Bard College, the Vassar women’s lacrosse team entered a weekend of back-to-back games. The double header began on Friday, April 21, against Skidmore College, followed by a game against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on April 22.
The Brewers kept a close score against Skidmore during the beginning of the first half. While Skidmore notched the first goal of the game, Vassar retaliated soon after with a goal from sophomore Fiona MacLeod, who scored off of an assist from first-year Tessa Waters. The scoreboard went back and forth again, recording two goals from Skidmore followed by one from Vassar as firstyear Kelly Pushie found the back of the net. Pushie was able to score one more goal during the half, again following two goals from Skidmore. However, Skidmore powered ahead in the rest of the half, tallying 11 goals by halftime.
In the second half, first-year Adele MacEwen and junior Storm Sideleau each scored a goal, but it was not enough to combat the eight additional goals scored by Skidmore, making the final score 19-5. Draw controls were even throughout the game, but Skidmore dominated the Brewers in caused turnovers and ground balls. Skidmore caused 18 turnovers, while Vassar only caused eight. Skidmore also tallied 30 ground balls, more than double the 14 that Vassar picked up.
“We were outrun on 50/50 balls,” said Head Coach Judy Finerghty in reference to factors that led to the loss. “Not possessing the ball enough limited our opportunities and maximized those of our opponents.”
The next day, the Brewers traveled from Saratoga Springs to Troy, NY, to face RPI. RPI was the first to get on the board, scoring three consecutive goals in the beginning of the first half. The Engineers notched another goal before Vassar was able to join them on the scoreboard, making the score 4-0 halfway through the first half.
Senior Phoebe Hankins was the first to score for the Brewers, answering back less than a minute after RPI’s fourth goal. RPI, however, retaliated in just as quick a manner, bringing the score to 5-1. Tessa Waters added another goal for Vassar, scoring her 25th of the season, but RPI was able to score another four goals, making the score at halftime 9-2.
Leading the Brewers in the second half, senior Julia Trudell scored two consecutive goals in response to a 10th goal scored by RPI, bringing the score to 10-4. RPI scored two more goals that half, while Vassar only managed to score once more on a goal from Sideleau. Like Skidmore, RPI greatly surpassed Vassar in ground balls and caused turnovers. They also dominated draw controls, coming up with 13 to the Brewers’ six.
Overall, the Brewers were frustrated with the back to back losses and did not feel like they played to their full potential. “We were pretty disappointed because we left both games knowing we could have performed better. It wasn’t a question of skill so much as connecting as a team,” noted MacEwen.
MacEwen also attributed the losses to a lack of energy, especially when coming out in the first halves of their games. “We have a hard time performing when we play away so we need to work on better strategies to get pumped and game ready when not on our home turf,” she said. “I think we also just need to work on trusting our abilities and capitalizing on our strengths. We tend to be a bit passive in the first half and step it up in the second half. We have to figure out how we can come out with everything from the start.”
Despite the disappointing results, there were some positive takeaways from the two games. Finerghty mentioned some noteworthy individual performances, including strong showings from junior goalkeeper Emily Chancey. Chancey tallied up many saves across both games. She stopped 16 shots against Skidmore and 11 against RPI.
Above anything, though, the losses highlighted a need for the Brewers to clean up their play and directed the team’s attention to things to work on going forward. “The games underscored our need to make better decisions with the ball, to play with greater composure,” noted Coach Finerghty.
The two losses did not help the Brewers secure a spot in the Liberty League playoffs. While playoffs are not completely out of the question, much more is riding on the women’s final conference games. “Despite our recent losses to Skidmore and RPI we still have a shot at making it to the playoffs,” said Trudell. “Unfortunately though, these losses have not put us in a great position. Not only do we need to win both of our next games, but we need certain teams to lose as well.”
To give the Brewers the best shot at qualifying for playoffs, RPI and the University of Rochester would both need to lose their upcoming games, RPI against Skidmore and Rochester against William Smith College.
While the future of the Brewers’ 2017 season is not entirely in their control, they need to focus on the variables that they can influence. As they approach their last two games of the regular season, the Brewers will have to put the recent losses behind them and focus on giving strong performances if they want a shot at accomplishing their goal of gaining a spot in the playoffs.
“I think I can speak for the team when I say that we are disappointed with the outcome and our overall performance this past weekend. All we can do now is focus on this upcoming weekend and just try our best to come out with a couple of wins,” shared Trudell. “Practice this week will surely set the tone for how we come out against Clarkson and St. Lawrence.”
The Brewers will play Clarkson University on April 28 and St. Lawrence University on April 29, both home on Weinberg Turf Field. Additionally, Friday will serve as Friends of Jaclyn Day for the team, while Senior Day will be celebrated on Saturday.