LYNCHBURG, VA – For the Randolph College women’s lacrosse team and third-year head coach Alexis Wagner, winning an Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) game was a goal from the start of spring practice. Cross that off the checklist as the WildCats earned a hard fought 18-13 victory over rival Sweet Briar College in an exciting contest from WildCat Stadium Thursday night.
The win for Randolph comes in its second full year in the ODAC, and the third win extended the WildCats win record to three with six more games to play. The ‘Cats also earned their second home victory in history Thursday, and first this season. The victory also came on Breast Cancer Awareness Night, as each team wore pink for the contest.
The contest was back and forth the entire contest, with grit being the name of the game. “They wanted it,” said Wagner. “The thing we kept cheering all night was ‘grit,’ something that we lacked the last couple of games in close contests…with a young team, playing a full 60 minutes can be difficult but we fought through tonight. I’m very proud of my team.”
The two team exchanged goals over the first 15 minutes of play, with the score being tied at three with 15:53 to play. The WildCats (3-6/1-4 ODAC) put together a three-goal spurt, capped by a circus goal from Nushaa Kaz (Raleigh, NC/Ravenscroft) to go up 5-3.
Sweet Briar wouldn’t go away, scoring three goals in three minutes to jump back out on top with a score of 6-5. That’s when the game would change, as Randolph scored six straight tallies, three coming at the end of the first half and three to open the second half. Junior Danielle Haney (Norwood, PA/Interboro), who has been here from the start of the program, notched three of those.
“I think everybody tried 150 percent tonight,” said Haney. “It was a total team effort, everybody did what we needed to do to win.” The Vixens though weren’t done, scoring the game’s next four goals, three from ODAC goal leader Olivia Hurt to pull to within one at 11-10. Randolph and SBC exchanged two-goal runs to make the score 14-13.
With 11:32 left in the game, Sweet Briar changed goalies, pulling starter Caroline Baker. Baker is the conference leader in saves and was third in the nation in stops coming in to the contest. Randolph did not greet back-up Megan Link fondly at all, scoring four goals on her in succession over the last 11 minutes, with the explanation point being a Courtney Kellogg (Tewksbury, MA/Central Catholic) to put the game away.
During that stretch Randolph made possibly the play that completely ended any chance of a Vixen comeback. Leading by three with a little over five minutes to play, first-year keeper Samantha Fagone (Bay Shore, NY/Bay Shore) made a great save on Hurt.
Fagone hit Morgan Thompson (Sandy Hook, VA/Goochland) with a fantastic outlet pass, who found Ashley Edwards (Sumerduck, VA/Liberty-Bealeton) on the clear. Edwards darted up field, found Haney who turned and buried the shot to make it a four-goal game.
Haney finished with a game-high six goals, adding two assists as well. First-year Taylor Klevenz (Cherry Hill, NJ/Cherry Hill) had another great game, scoring four times to go with five draw controls. Edwards posted two goals, four assists, five ground balls and a team-leading six draw controls. Kellogg and Melanie Eisele (Kennett Square, PA/Sanford School) each had a goal and assist apiece.
Defensively, Randolph was led by Fagone who had the best game of her career, making 19 saves and picking up six ground balls. Junior Ashley Stevens (Leicester, MA/St. Peter-Marian) had six ground balls and a team-leading three caused turnovers.
Hurt posted six goals in the loss for SBC, and Sam Schwartz came on late to tally four goals. Sarah Winstead scored twice and assisted on two others before leaving the game in the second half due to injury. Kim Orchowski, who came into the contest with 18 goals failed to score, but dished out three assists. Hurt and Jessie Edington added six draw controls each for the Vixens.
Randolph is back in action next Tuesday with a conference bout with Roanoke College at 6 p.m. in WildCat Stadium.