By George Tatoris
Air was full of electricity and the ground was wet with freshly-fallen April rain as the lacrosse team prepared to take on the Stockton University Ospreys on Tuesday, April 26.
The teams were about to take the field when a bolt of lightning struck, delaying the game 30 minutes. There was one more flash before the Lions were allowed to continue at 8 p.m. — a full hour after they were supposed to start.
“It gets a little sloppy on everyone’s part (when playing in the rain),” Pfluger said. “But everybody’s playing in it so you have to overcome.”
And overcome they did. Before the first six minutes were up, the Lions plundered the Ospreys’s goal four times — with half of those goals coming from senior attacker Cortney Natalicchio. A goal from junior attacker Mia Blackman in the last three minutes of the first period brought the score to 6-0 at the half.
The Ospreys scored on the Lions in the first five minutes of the second period, but the effort was futile. With two goals from Devlin, one of which came off an assist from graduate student attacker Erin Waller, and another goal from Waller herself contributed to the 10-1 victory.
The Ospreys and Lions will meet again on Wednesday, May 4, at 7 p.m. in Lions Stadium for the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) tournament semi-finals. The Lions will be vying for their sixth consecutive conference title this year.
Rain was not a factor when the Lions took on the Kean University Cougars at home on Senior Day on Saturday, April 30. There, the Lions proved they were the fiercer felines in a 16-7 victory over the Cougars. With these last two wins, the Lions remain undefeated in the NJAC and finish the regular season with just a single loss.
Despite a tough first half against Kean, Head Coach Sharon Pfluger said her team “stayed confident and worked very hard and played together as a team” to secure the win.
The Lions dug their claws into the Cougars less than two minutes into the match with a goal from senior midfielder Megan Devlin. Just two minutes later, sophomore midfielder Amanda Muller followed up with a goal of her own.
The Cougars pushed back with a single goal, but it was swiftly answered by a goal apiece from sophomore attacker Emily Kratz and freshman midfielder Erin Harvey.
Harvey had a massive impact in the first half, netting two more goals in the period. After scoring on a free position shot, Harvey made the draw control herself before scoring again just 10 seconds later, bringing the Lions lead to 7-2.
The Cougars surged onward to close the gap. They scored three unanswered goals to end the first half on a two-goal deficit.
With the Cougars on their tails, the Lions opened the second half with a bang. Just 30 seconds into the period, Kratz scored again. The Lions went on to make five more unanswered goals in the next 15 minutes. Kratz led the scoring with five goals.
The Lions ended the game with a harrowing 39 shots, but the Cougars goalkeeper kept it a close match, blocking 20 would-be goals for the Lions. Pfluger said the talented goalie, in addition to inaccurate shooting from the Lions in the first half, created a roadblock for her team.
“I think that we weren’t shooting quite as well in the first half,” Pfluger said. “We really just had to find the net and I think we did that in the second half.”
The sky over Lions Stadium was gray with clouds that afternoon, but unlike at the Stockton game earlier that week, there was no rainfall to disrupt the match.
With the victory over Kean, the Lions regular season ends. Punctuating that gray afternoon, pinned to the farthest fence from the stands, three yellow signs could be seen honoring the graduating Lions at their last regular season game — #4 Cortney Natalicchio, #17 Erin Waller and #20 Megan Devlin.