Three weekends are now in the books in the 2018 NCAA women’s lacrosse season, and this past one was a doozy. The highlight of the weekend was North Carolina’s upset victory over top-seeded Maryland (read more about that here), but there was plenty of other exciting action.
Seventeen teams enter Monday still undefeated, not counting Howard, the lone school in the country yet to play a game. Boston College is a perfect 5-0, sporting an unbelievable +49 goal differential, while James Madison is the only 4-0 team after holding off High Point, 13–11 on Saturday.
Let’s check out the best of the weekend.
Florida survives scare from Loyola at home
The Greyhounds found themselves in prime position in Gainesville on Sunday to pull off an upset of the Florida Gators, who entered the game ranked No. 4 in the country in the Inside Lacrosse poll.
Loyola took a 16–14 lead with just 2:27 to play when freshman Livy Rosenzweig netted her second goal of the contest. Rosenzweig’s goal was the Greyhounds’ third straight. The freshman actually corralled the ensuing draw control, but Florida was able to force a quick turnover and gain possession. Junior attacker Lindsey Ronback buried a free-position shot with 1:55 remaining.
After Loyola won another draw, Florida responded by leaning on its smallest athlete, Madisyn Kittell, to tie the game. Kittell, who is listed at 4-foot-7, forced a turnover with 1:16 left and was able to scoop and score to tie the game for the Gators.
MADISYN. KITTELL.— Gators Lacrosse (@GatorsLAX) February 25, 2018
Here’s the scoop and score by @MadisynKitell that took us to overtime! #FLax #GoGators pic.twitter.com/svGZfo9bbr
Once the game went to overtime, Shayna Pirreca did it all herself. The Long Island senior drove to the net on the left side of the formation, netted a shot, and gave Florida a victory.
Overtime + @ShaynaPirreca = #GatorsWin! #FLax #PirrecaPower pic.twitter.com/zrI9vPUJtl— Gators Lacrosse (@GatorsLAX) February 25, 2018
Here is how Florida head coach Amanda O’Leary described the final play (taken from the Gators website):
“In overtime, we were looking to isolate. Shayna (Pirreca) has been working with Taryn (VanThof) and Nadine (Hadnagy) on her 1v1 dodges for a couple weeks, and I think she and Sydney (Pirreca) executed the play perfectly.”
From Loyola’s perspective, the Greyhounds definitely have the talent to compete with Navy in the Patriot League. The squad’s 0-2 record comes at the hands of two highly talented opponents on the road, and isn’t really indicative of any long-term concerns.
Navy rallies back to beat Michigan
Speaking of the Midshipsmen, the 2017 Final Four team found itself in a jam midway through Sunday’s game against Michigan. With 17:45 to play, Maddie Kane of the Wolverines scored on a free-position try to give Michigan a 7–3 advantage.
From there, Navy went on a 5-1 run to tie the game 8–8 with just over eight minutes remaining. The Mids weren’t out of the woods yet, as the teams traded the next four goals to reach 10–10. Senior Jenna Collins, a two-time Patriot League Midfielder of the Year, gave Navy the win with a free-position goal with just 1:52 to play. Collins had 114 points last season.
Navy is now 3–0 after the win. Up next for the Academy is a Tuesday afternoon game at Boston College, in a rematch of last season’s semifinal game, won by the Eagles, 16–15.
Sam Apuzzo, early Tewaaraton front-runner?
Transitioning to Boston College, the offense has been on a tear to open the 2018 season. BC has already played five games, scoring a nation-high 89 goals in those games. The leader of the torrid pace has been Sam Apuzzo, the junior from West Babylon, Long Island, where she scored 375 over five high school seasons.
So far this year, Apuzzo has 21 goals and 12 assists. The 33 points are best among all players in the country by a margin of 10 (note: most teams have not played as many games). She has eight-point efforts against Holy Cross, BU and Brown already this season and seems to be on her way toward topping her 80 goal sophomore season in 2017.
Apuzzo has also been the exclusive faceoff specialist for the Eagles in their last two games, in which she has recorded 8 and 11 draw controls.
It’s early in the season, but Apuzzo has made a statement so far. She should be considered a serious candidate for winning the Tewaaraton this year, beside Stony Brook’s Kylie Ohlmiller and Courtney Murphy, North Carolina’s Marie McCool, and James Madison’s Elena Romesburg.
Of course, it’ll probably go to a Maryland midfielder instead.
Northwestern earns a marquee victory
Northwestern lacrosse may be back on the rise, if Sunday’s win over USC is any indication. The Wildcats’ two star British Columbian players — Selena Lasota and Danita Stroup — each recorded hat tricks, and the Northwestern defense shut down the 7th-ranked Trojans late in the game en route to a 9–5 victory.
But more importantly from any of that, from a Northwestern perspective, was the return of Shelby Fredericks, the senior Long Islander that specializes in the draw for the Wildcats. Fredericks had not been in action during the team’s first four games, but recorded 165 draw controls in 2017, the most in a single season in school history. Against USC, she secured six draw controls.
The Wildcats are now 4-1 on the year, having comfortably won each of their three home games. The next home game, this coming Saturday, will be a major test as the Stony Brook Seawolves come to campus.
Murphy shines in return to LaValle, defense is impenetrable
This weekend, when Stony Brook goes to Northwestern, will mark the one year anniversary of the last Seawolves-Wildcats game... the one in which Courtney Murphy, of 100-goal-season fame, fell on a non-contact play with a torn ACL.
On Sunday, Murphy played her first game at LaValle Stadium since the injury and it was like she never left. The senior from William Floyd scored six goals and added an assist in Stony Brook’s 16–3 win over No. 20 Denver. Murphy also hit two posts in the contest.
Here’s her last of her six goals, off a catch in traffic and a quick spin move.
T.O. finds Murphy again, and it's 14-3. The redshirt senior has 6⃣ goals now! #NCAALAX #AEWLAX pic.twitter.com/VbmBBczJTt— Stony Brook WLAX (@StonyBrookWLAX) February 25, 2018
What really stood out from the Seawolves’ home-opening win, though, was the defensive play. Denver only had one non-free position goal the whole game and seemed unable to even get the ball to the interior of the Stony Brook zone, where first-team all-American senior Brooke Gubitosi was patrolling all the lanes.
After the game, Gubitosi said: “If we’re on the same page and we’re playing our style of defense, which I think we got back to today, good luck playing us.” (from Newsday)
I think they got back to that style of defense too. Denver came in off a 17-goal showing against San Diego State. On Sunday, the Pioneers had more turnovers (17) than shot attempts (14).
As for Stony Brook? Good luck playing them.