By Meghan Falconer
This past Sunday, the University of Dallas women’s lacrosse team traveled to Conway, Ark. to take on the Hendrix College Warriors. The team was blessed with a beautiful, breezy 68-degree day for its first game of the season.
The Crusaders came into the game disorganized and hesitant, and this allowed Hendrix to win the draw and score within the first few minutes of the half. Having discussed but never actually practiced their ride-transition, half of the team was covering the field via man-to-man, while the other half was covering via the intended zone-coverage strategy. Due to the confusion, Hendrix continually swept the ball back into the Crusaders’ territory. Fortunately, Crusader goalie senior Christine Jablonsky was on her toes and was able to stop nearly half of the Hendrix team’s shots, keeping UD in the game.
“Hendrix had some really talented shooters and well-executed plays, but I still had a near 50 percent save percentage on the game. So I’m not too upset with my first performance of the season,” Jablonsky reported.
Although the team came out far behind at the end of the game, with a final score of 16-1, the Crusader women had several good things going for them, especially from their new players. Attack player and freshman Erin Chadwick scored a magnificent goal in the second quarter, driving in, forcing a shooting space penalty on the Hendrix defense and then wasting no time tossing in a well-placed shot on the Hendrix goalie. Not only did Chadwick score the team’s first and only goal, but her quickness and determined aggression also resulted in her recovering four ground balls, tying junior Hayley Rodgers to lead the team.
Chadwick and fellow freshmen Jackie Barboza and Sarah Schmitz also each forced a turnover. This is a difficult task in lacrosse and an amazing sign of athletic prowess from new players. Likewise, freshmen Julia Shinkle and Patty Hahn wasted no time getting in the game. Hahn proved essential for the team on Sunday and was able to stay fresh, levelheaded and confident despite the Hendrix lead. Her quickness and excellent stick skills were quickly utilized in both the attack and midfield positions.
Most impressive of all were the contributions of Shinkle and sophomore Gwen Mohler, both of whom had never played a lacrosse game before. Shinkle’s height and strength were noticed immediately by the Hendrix defense, and this forced them to engage her the entire game. Shinkle cunningly took advantage of this to lead the Hendrix defenders away from the net, allowing the Crusaders more space to shoot. Mohler also demonstrated how quickly she has been learning the game by making a well-placed check to a Hendrix midfielder’s stick and gaining possession at a crucial moment in the second half.
Despite the loss, the Crusaders were very optimistic after the game.
“We are really proud of our new girls. Lots of them have many years of playing…which makes my job easy!” Head Coach Melissa Grant said. “But what’s even better is that our players [who] have just begun playing this year are picking up the game faster than any of us could have hoped! I’m very excited about watching them continue to learn and gain confidence in their ability to make things happen for us.”