The Shepherd Rams women’s lacrosse team (2-2) had its best offensive output of the season in its 23-12 home victory over the Ursuline College Arrows (1-2) on Tuesday afternoon, March 6, in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.
Sharing the ball was a clear advantage for Shepherd, as they compiled a 12-5 advantage over Ursuline in this facet of the game. The Rams moved the ball well around the Arrows’ defense constantly, setting up numerous scoring chances early on in the game.
At the 26:17 mark in the first half, the Rams had already established a 3-0 lead thanks to goals from sophomore attacker/midfielder Lillian Funke, senior midfielder Sarah Wendt, and freshman attacker Regan Brown.
Wendt would go on to have a career day for the Rams, posting career-highs of six goals and three assists. Funke had the most draw controls in program history with 14 on the day against the Arrows, breaking the old record of nine posted by Nicole Ruane against Howard on Feb. 19, 2012.
After the game, via email, Wendt gave credit to the team’s preparation in being able to come out with the victory over Ursuline and to her teammates, who helped her have such a productive day offensively.
“Ursuline’s defense came out strong,” Wendt said. “We had prepared for this game and were able to break down their defense and work together to create movement to out-score them. I was able to score because I was set up with great feeds from my teammates as well as cuts and movement that created open lanes for me to drive to [the] goal and get feeds off to my attackers. The game was a huge team[-]effort and we fought hard for those 60 minutes.”
These three players were key cogs in the Rams’ victory Tuesday afternoon. Wendt led the team with six goals while posting three assists as well. Brown really proved to be too much to handle for the Arrows with her scoring and passing abilities. Against the Arrows, Brown recorded four goals and led all players in the match with five assists.
At times, the Arrows simply had no answers for Brown, who continued to frustrate them all game long.
Funke was another valuable contributor with her four-goal and three-assist outing. Her efforts helped diversify the Rams’ offense, as the Arrows’ defense could not concentrate on just stopping one Rams in particular.
Despite the Rams’ success, the Arrows made some adjustments and made the outcome of the game in doubt with a two to nothing run fueled by Ursuline sophomore midfielder Natalie Nowicki that trimmed the Rams’ lead to two with a 7-5 score with 14:13 to play in the first half.
Nowicki scored three out of her team-high four goals in the first half that helped the Arrows stay in contention with the Rams until just under five and half a minutes in the first half, when the floodgates opened for the Rams offensively.
Brown, Wendt, freshman attacker Sidney Kelly, and senior defender Anna Munford helped the Rams close out the first half with four straight goals in the final 5:18 of the first half to take a 13-6 lead at halftime.
In the second half, the Arrows never reduced the Rams’ lead to fewer than six goals. The Arrows’ defense did not come to play or make the necessary adjustment to contain the Rams’ diversified attack.
The Arrows did start out the second half on a 5-4 run to at least keep the Rams nervous, but the Rams responded with a 6-0 run of their own to take a commanding 23-11 lead over the Arrows with just 3:34 remaining in regulation.
During this run, once again, the Rams displayed a diverse array of scorers, with four different Rams (Brown, Kelly, Funke, and sophomore midfielder Elishia Davis) contributing at least one goal during the run.
Davis would finish the match with three goals and one assist against the Arrows on a day where numerous Rams stepped up offensively.
This game could really be summed up by the Arrows’ inability to prevent the Rams from going on these long scoring runs without putting up any goals of their own. The Rams had runs of 3-0 (twice), 4-0, and 6-0 that helped them form a large lead on the Arrows that they never really were in significant danger of losing.
Even though the scoreboard may not show it, the Arrows played fairly well offensively themselves. They had 33 shot attempts to 40 for the Rams, but often times they kept the Rams’ defenders and senior goalkeeper Casey Hickman on their toes.
Hickman had 22 shots come her way and was able to stop 10 of them. She bailed the Rams’ defense out at times and helped give her offense confidence at the same time with her stellar goalkeeping performance.
Arrows freshman goalkeeper Emily Hall did not have a great performance against the Rams by allowing 18 goals and recording just eight saves, but her defense was to blame as well. The Arrows’ defense often times did not step up to the challenge against the Rams’ attackers, continually allowing them to get quality shot attempts on goal.
Freshman midfielder Sarah Bader aided Nowicki in the scoring department for the Arrows with her two goals to go along with her two assists. Senior midfielder Cydney Bartlett had two goals and two assists for the Arrows as well, but generated 10 shot attempts to just three for Bader.
Wendt believes that this win can help propel the Rams to continued success, particularly on the offensive end.
“We have a really young team this year with only a few returners on offense, so to have such big wins like yesterday’s, early in the season, is huge for the confidence of those young players and for the team as a whole,” Wendt explained. “The two wins we’ve had so far have consisted of seven different offensive players scoring in each game which is what has been so great for our season so far, a team can’t choose one player and shut them off and expect our attack not to produce.”
This was wire-to-wire win for the Rams, as they never trailed at any one point in the game. It was an impressive win, especially considering the difficulties the team was going through in its first few games.
Next Tuesday, March 13, the Rams will be attempting to get over the .500 mark for the first time this season they travel to Newberry, South Carolina, to take on the Newberry Wolves. Gametime is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Anthony Bracken is the sports editor of The Picket. He can be reached at email@example.com