by Sean Begin
After two tough games on the road against Stony Brook and Brown, the Central Connecticut lacrosse team returned to Arute Field on Saturday, looking for a win against a solid Vermont team.
The Catamounts (8-2), however, proved too strong on offense, handing the Blue Devils (2-5) a 22-7 defeat.
“Vermont is a good team. They’re athletic and aggressive,” said Coach Laura Campbell after the loss. “I think for us we knew they were a fast break team. So we had a game plan against it. It came down to executing some of the little things. And we just didn’t take care of that.”
Vermont got off to a fast start, scoring four straight goals to start the game, including two within 10 seconds of each other. The Catamounts outscored the Blue Devils 14-6 in the first half to take an eight-point lead into the locker room at halftime.
Central managed to score the first goal to open the second half, but Vermont scored the next eight to close out the victory. Vermont was led by Sydney Mas and Vanessa VanderZalm, who scored seven and six goals, respectively.
Mas proved particularly effective, scoring low several times against Blue Devil goalkeeper Morgan Tuller. Tuller allowed 20 goals and tallied seven saves on the day.
“We did scouting, we knew their tendencies. We knew [Mas] drops her arm low and then she shoots low so it pretty much telegraphs the shot,” said Campbell. “For some reason Morgan was just getting beat on it today.”
Campbell said the team struggled with slowing the ball by using effective body positioning and footwork, they lost positioning on inside cuts from the Vermont attack, both of which contributed to the team’s struggle to defend.
Five players scored for the Blue Devils, including two each by captain Amanda Toke and fellow senior Meaghan McCurry. Toke also added an assist, three ground balls and four draw controls, tied for a team high with sophomore Falynn McCartney.
The Blue Devils split the draw controls with Vermont at 15 each and gathered more ground balls than the Catamounts, 19-15, but were outshot 33-29. Vermont’s goalie, Mackenzie Maher saved 13 shots for the Catamounts.
While the loss is Central’s third in a row, it’s also the third team in a row the Blue Devils have faced that finished last season with a higher RPI ranking than Central.
“I told them in the locker room I’d rather schedule tough opponents and lose than play easy games and not really learn anything,” said Campbell of the team’s tough schedule. “I don’t think we grow from that.”
Growth is something Campbell sees happening in more than just her players, although they too have learned lessons from the tough losses.
“Personally, as a coach, I’m growing. I think as players they’re growing and they’re learning,” said Campbell. “They’re learning from playing against stronger opponents and learning how to make their personal games better. I hope that they take that away from [losing].”
As the team advances towards NEC play, the exposure to tougher teams, Campbell hopes, will make the Blue Devils more aware of the things they need to control, in order to have success against conference foes.
“One thing we’ve been talking about is the fight. We’re not giving a consistent fight,” said Campbell. “Regardless of what’s going on that’s out of our control, we have to control the controllables.”
Added Campbell: “We’ve got to fight for that whole 60 minutes. We’re not seeing that enough. These games have really shown that. So I’m hoping we can build on that.”
The lacrosse team takes the field again Saturday with a home game at Arute Field against Howard scheduled for 1 p.m.