Women’s Lacrosse defeats Villanova in tight Big East battle

Photo+by+Bruce+Brookshire

Photo by Bruce Brookshire

Will Wang

In a close game, the Vanderbilt Commodores defeated the Villanova Wildcats 15-11 on Saturday afternoon, never once trailing despite Villanova constantly battling back.

The Commodores’ top three goal scorers had their usual strong games, with Emily Mathewson, Julie Blaze, and Kayla Peterson combining for 10 goals. However, it was Gwyn Devin who surprised with a standout performance, leading the team with four goals and two assists.

Grace Bell continued to step up as goalkeeper in Madison Foglio’s absence, recording four saves, and leaving the goal circle multiple times to use her speed to collect ground balls and move the ball forward.

Coach Cathy Swezey praised her willingness to take on the challenge of the goalie position.

“[Bell] has sacrificed so much to be in the cage and be making plays,” Swezey said. “We couldn’t be more pleased with what she’s doing. If she made two [plays] a game we’d feel like she was doing something for us, but she’s doing more than that.”

Devin provided an early spark for the Commodores, collecting a hat trick within ten minutes, taking advantage of two free position shots and curling around the back leftside of the goal to flip in her third goal.

Her fourth goal came early in the second half on a fast break opportunity when Melissa Hawkins found her cutting down the center. Prior to this strong showing, the sophomore had never recorded a multi-goal game.

Coach Swezey pointed to Devin’s improvement in playing within the flow of the offense as a reason for her success this game. 

“We actually recently had said back off the goal a little bit and try and find your niche in the offense, work with other people to see how you can create openings for other people,” Swezey said. “Oddly, because she’s gotten better at just running the offense, I think she found her holes a little bit better.”

Overall, Villanova never backed down and continued to keep the game close, tying the game on three occasions. Despite trailing 7-6 at halftime, the Wildcats had nine draw controls to the Commodores’ five.

Vanderbilt changed their draw control approach, substituting in two players off the bench, Elizabeth Scarrone and Leah Peterson, allowing Vanderbilt to match Villanova’s seven draw controls in the second half with seven draw controls of their own.

Scarrone tallied five draw controls herself to lead the team.

Mathewson made some sensational offensive plays on the afternoon, scoring in a variety of ways. Her first goal came when she attacked from the back left side of the goal to score.

Later, with 24:25 in the second half, she attacked diagonally from the left wing moving to her right into the eight-meter fan, absorbing repeated checks from the defender, before planting and cutting left to leave the defender off-balance and find the space to finish the goal.

She exhibited another great effort weaving around the left side of the field, beating multiple defenders, speeding ahead of them to flip in a goal from a tough left angle.

With just 5:03 remaining and the team up 13-11, Kayla Peterson cut from the left wing diagonally into the eight-meter arc to receive a pass from Julie Blaze for her third goal of the day to put Vanderbilt in the driver’s seat.

The Commodores held the Wildcats scoreless for the final eight minutes and 27 seconds, relying on strong ball control and a great clutch save by Bell with four minutes left on a low shot to complete the impressive victory.

The Vanderbilt Commodores remain at home to welcome the Cincinnati Bearcats Wednesday, April 4th, at 2pm.