By George Tatoris
After a shaky first half, the lacrosse team beat the State University of New York (SUNY) at Fredonia, 8-3, in its opener on Saturday, Feb. 27. The teams met in neutral territory at Montclair State University’s Sprague Field.
SUNY took advantage as the Lions struggled to find their footing in the first half, scoring three goals while the College could only manage one.
“In the beginning of the game, I think we were a little nervous,” sophomore defender Elizabeth Morrison said. “It was our first time playing full-field with that lineup and it took a little bit of time to get used to.”
The Lions’s only goal in the first half came from junior attack Mia Blackman in the last 10 minutes. Fredonia led, 3-1, but those would be the only three goals scored by the Blue Devils that day.
As the Lions got comfortable in the second half, they pummeled Fredonia, ending the game with an 8-3 victory for the College.
“At halftime, Coach (Sharon) Pfluger told us what we needed to work on and what was working,” Morrison said. “There was also a lot of talk between teammates trying to help each other be more successful. Most importantly, I think we brought up our intensity and started to get more comfortable on the field.”
The Lions made a swift comeback. Morrison was the first Lion to score in the second half and senior forward Cortney Natalicchio tied up the game nine minutes into the half.
Sophomore midfielder Amanda Muller put the Lions ahead with a goal at 19:52. Afterward, nothing the Blue Devils did was enough to stop the team from scoring.
Blackman led the Lions offense after adding two goals to the scoreboard while Natalicchio was second in goals with two total.
With just over 30 seconds left, sophomore attack Emily Kratz scored the eighth and final goal for the Lions off an assist from senior midfielder Megan Devlin.
“It was the first game of the season and we had to get some of the jitters out of our system,” Natalicchio said “Once that happened, we really started to play as a team and that’s how we shut them out in the second half.”
The Blue Devils were not able to score for 49 minutes out of the entire hour and 51 minutes of play, partly thanks to freshman goaltender Miranda Chrone, who kicked off her college career with an impressive three saves.
The Lions outshot Fredonia, 29-9, in the game and 18-2 in the second half.
Both the Lions and the Blue Devils were shut out of the final four in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III Tournament last year and are both nationally ranked by the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) this year — the Lions are fifth and Fredonia is 15th in the polls.
Overall, this weekend was a victory, but the early stumbles of the team in this opener indicate there is still room to grow.
“As a team, we are happy with the outcome, but still have a lot of things to improve on,” Morrison said. “After playing (on Saturday), we can start to make those changes, but overall, it was a good start to the season.”