The visiting Shippensburg Raiders (1-1) came out of Shepherdstown with a 14-6 road victory over the Shepherd Rams women’s lacrosse team (0-2) on Friday afternoon, Feb. 23, in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.
Coming out of the gates, the Raiders were on fire. With a balanced attack, the Raiders were able to maneuver through the Rams’ defense to get off quality shot opportunities that continually put pressure on Rams senior goalkeeper Casey Hickman.
Four goals in less than a 10-minute span from Raiders junior midfielder Madi Newman, freshman attacker Jena MacDonald, senior attacker Allison Fugate, and freshman attacker Alana Cardaci gave the Raiders an early 4-0 lead on the road.
This early onslaught of goals by the Raiders gave them even greater confidence than they already had, helping them build their lead to a 9-4 score by halftime.
Containing the Raiders’ attack proved to be a challenge all day for the Rams. Shippensburg outshot Shepherd by a 37-27 margin, as they were able to harass Hickman for large stretches of the game.
Despite falling behind early, the Rams, largely through the efforts of senior midfielder Sarah Wendt and freshman attacker Regan Brown, showed some resolve to help Shepherd stay within striking range of Shippensburg.
Wendt and Brown both had two goals to help the Rams stay within five goals of the Raiders at halftime, but with the Rams being unable to solve their defensive problems, their goals would not be enough to save them on this Friday afternoon.
Junior midfielder Morgan Stone would help put the finishing touches on the Rams in the second half with two consecutive goals of her own that stretched the Raiders’ lead to seven with an 11-4 score with 14:09 to play.
In the second half, the Raiders were not quite as effective as they were in the first half on the offensive end, but they more than made up for it with their efforts on the defensive end.
Shippensburg outscored Shepherd by a 5-2 margin in the second half, as it concentrated more on the defensive end and holding its lead instead of trying to add to it in the closing minutes of the game.
Both sophomore midfielder Elishia Davis and sophomore attacker/midfielder Lillian Funke showed tremendous poise and spirit in scoring two goals for Shepherd in the second half when the game seemed out of reach, but the Rams were not able to keep pace with the Raiders’ overwhelming offensive attack.
Funke’s goal was particularly inspiring because it came with 1:28 left in the game and with the Rams facing a nine-goal deficit at the time.
However, a collection of defensive mistakes and missed shot opportunities led to the 14-6 home loss for the Rams on Friday afternoon.
Cardaci was a valuable performer for the Raiders offensively. She shot very effectively against the Rams, helping her finish with a game-high three goals on five shot opportunities.
Stone, Newman, and junior attacker Kyra Shank all had two goals as well against the Rams, helping to provide a balanced attack offensively.
Davis and Funke generated seven and six shot opportunities, respectively, for the Rams. At times, they simply could not connect one of their shots to the back of the net or fell victim to a save from Raiders freshman goalkeeper KiKI Brasher.
Brasher faced 16 shots on goal against the Rams, but earned the win over the Rams by collecting 10 saves in the match. The six goals that Brasher allowed on the afternoon did not seem to matter based on the offensive show put on display by the Raiders’ offense.
Keeping control of the ball was another problem that the Rams faced in this match. Against the Raiders, the Rams turned the ball over 24 times, hurting their offensive rhythm tremendously throughout large stretches of the game.
The Raiders were faster and more effective in getting to free balls, as they collected a 29-22 edge in ground balls over the Rams.
Draw controls were a certainly a strength for the Rams in the contest, as they came out on top by a 13-9 margin in this facet of the game. This helped the Rams regain some of their offensive flow that they lost with their 24 turnovers in the game.
Fouls by the Rams defense set up 14 free-position shot opportunities for the Raiders that applied even more pressure on the Hickman and the rest of the Rams defense. Shepherd finished with eight free-position shots in the game and did a particularly great job of generating five of these opportunities in the first half, but only managed three such chances in the second half.
Out of the 20 combined goals in the match, the only two assists were registered by Fugate. All other goals scored in the match came courtesy of Raiders and Rams ball handlers weaving their way through the opposing defense and sending the ball to the back of the net.
Hickman took the loss for the Rams, but still managed to record 11 saves to help make the final margin look more respectable.
During the match, Hickman faced 25 shots on goal, an unhealthy recipe for success. Shepherd’s defense could not hold back Shippensburg’s attackers, allowing the Raiders to continually get shots on goal.
On Saturday, March 3, the Rams will attempt to play better defense and execute more of their chances offensively to hopefully earn their first win of the young season when they play host to Alderson Broaddus at 1 p.m. Next Saturday’s game will also be Meet the Rams Day, where fans can meet their favorite Rams players.
Anthony Bracken is the sports editor of The Picket. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org