W. Lacrosse to host Gators on Saturday

By JEFF LYNCH | May 7, 2012

The Hopkins women's lacrosse team hit the road to Nashville, Tennessee to take on the 15th ranked Commodores of Vanderbilt University in American Lacrosse Conference action. The 19th ranked Lady Blue Jays came into town fresh off a 9-8 nail-biting win against the Tigers of Princeton University. The game was the 14th in a series that dates back ten years, with the 'Dores leading 8-5 including six straight heading into the Sunday afternoon match-up of NCAA women's lacrosse powerhouses. The Commodores again would come out on top and send the Lady Jays home unhappy with a 11-14 loss in a tightly contested game that never saw a cushion larger than three goals for either squad. Vandy came out hot in the opening ten minutes of the first half, jumping out to a two goal lead on a couple of unassisted tallies, only to see the Lady Jays, led by senior Rachel Ballatori, come storming back with three consecutive goals to take the lead halfway through the first half. Ballatori capitalized on a pair of free position shots to tie it up before picking up the hat-trick on a feed from sophomore Taylor D'Amore, the first of her three assists on the afternoon. The Lady Blue Jays would hold this lead for the next five and a half minutes, only to see it evaporate with a five minute 4-0 run by the Commodores that gave Vanderbilt the lead at 6-3. The Lady Jays again showed their resiliency and managed to net three goals in the span of 1:11 to knot the score at six apiece with five minutes to play in the first half. Vandy, however, seized the momentum going into halftime as senior All-American Ally Carey scored the second goal of her hat-trick. The 'Dores held on to a 7-6 lead after the first 30 minutes, and the Blue Jays would never again draw closer than one goal despite trading several tallies throughout the second half. The Lady Jays drew the score close at 12-11 with 9:13 to play in the game on Colleen McCaffrey's teamleading 25th goal, however, they would be held scoreless until the final whistle, as the Commodores would stretch their lead to 14-11 with two goals scored by Kacie Connors. Headlining the day for the Lady Blue Jays were Ballatori (5 G), McCaffrey (3G), D'Amore (1 G 3 A) and senior Candace Rossi (3 A). The loss dropped the 19th ranked Blue Jays to 7-3 (0-1 ALC) on the season, while Vandy improved to 6-4 (1-2 ALC). D'Amore leads the Lady Blue Jays in points this sea-son with 42 on 22 goals and 20 assists while starting all ten games this season. She has also been shooting at a 0.512 shooting percentage as well as capitalizing on six free position goals in eight opportunities, tops on the team. D'Amore, along with McCaffrey and Rossi, have been named to the watch list for the American Lacrosse Conference Player of the Year, while D'Amore also has been mentioned on the 2012 Tewaaraton Watch List (women's college lacrosse's highest individual honor), along with senior defender Alyssa Kildare. Head Coach Janine Tucker and her team will have little time to dwell on this loss, as they will look to quickly rebound and continue their late season gauntlet in which six of their last seven games are against teams in the top 15 in the country. Next up is a match-up against the 5th ranked Gators of the University of Florida. The Gators are one of the most impressive offensive clubs in the country, as they have outscored their opponents by more than 150 goals this season in 14 games. "Florida is a very fast team and has a very effective attack," junior midfielder Courtney Schweizer said, and the Lady Blue Jays are planning to defend against this by adding an extra defender and playing only two midfielders. In addition to the extra defender, the Jays will look to face guard U of F's explosive attackers, relying less on sliding to help and more on consistent one-onone match-ups. "Extra experience on the defensive end of the field should help to slow them down in transition, and also help us to effectively clear the ball upfield," Schweizer went on to say. The junior Psychological and Brain Sciences major from Wilmington, DE will be an important part in the Lady Blue Jays success against the Gators for her versatility in both defending and scoring, as she has taken on more of an offensive role this season with her career high 15 goals through the first ten games. "Ultimately, if we execute our defenses and offenses that have been specifically tailored to utilize our strengths while exploiting Florida's weaknesses, we could and should control the outcome of the game to be in our favor." The American Lacrosse Conference tilt between the Gators and the Lady Blue Jays is set to begin on Saturday, Apr. 7th at 1:00 PM on historic Homewood Field. Be sure to come out and support women's lacrosse as the season really heats up and watch them try to tame the Gators and send them back down south with a loss.

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