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Women’s lacrosse suffers first setback of 2020

by Paul Cifonelli – Sports Editor

The College at Brockport women’s lacrosse team has a grueling non-conference slate that should prepare the team for whatever is thrown its way during SUNYAC play. However, Brockport could trip up a few times along the way. For a team ranked in the IWLCA Coaches’ top 25 at the beginning of the season, those losses will not help the Golden Eagles stay in the national picture.

Brockport has already defeated Denison University, the 21st-ranked team in the country. The Golden Eagles fell to #16 Ithaca College on Saturday, March 7. Their schedule also features games against #7 Salisbury University, #23 SUNY Cortland and #22 SUNY Geneseo. The remaining three games against ranked opponents are opportunities for signature wins, like the one against Denison. A loss, like the one Brockport suffered to Ithaca, could spell disaster.

Brockport held its own early on in the matchup with Ithaca. Sophomore midfielder Erin Wegrzyn, fifth year attacker Heather Conklin and senior attacker Chloe Kurst all scored one goal in the first 10 minutes of play. Two Ithaca goals also occurred during that time, giving Brockport an early 3-2 advantage. The Bombers then rattled off six consecutive goals in an 11-minute span to take a commanding 8-3 lead. Ithaca held onto that lead throughout the remainder of the game.

Wegrzyn and freshman attacker Courtney Cunningham both scored before the end of the first half to keep Brockport in the game. Conklin scored two more goals in the game to help her reach 200 points for her Brockport career. Sophomore midfielder Allison Jennings also scored twice in the second half. After Jennings had a quality freshman season, she had to go back to work and continue spending extra time on her craft to continue her success.

“For me, it’s all about working hard and putting the time in outside of practice,” Jennings said. “I really wanted to be able to step up and be a leader this year.”

When the final horn sounded, Brockport was unable to make up any ground on Ithaca in the second half and lost 14-10. The defense, which allowed nine goals in the first half, rebounded in the second to give the Golden Eagles a chance at pulling off the comeback.

“Our defense focused more on staying consistent, playing our game and shutting down their key players in the second half so that we could give our offense more opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net,” junior defender Allison Difulvio said.

Suffering the first defeat of the season can be tough for any team, especially one with the expectations Brockport had. However, the team is not worrying about its first setback because of how talented and highly-regarded Ithaca is.

“Ithaca is one of the top teams in the nation, so having good competition exploits some of our weaknesses,” Difulvio said. “We can use this to our advantage by taking what we did wrong and learning from it so, as we move forward and play other good competition, we know how to better prepare ourselves.”

The chemistry Brockport has already created will be one of the things that helps it grow from this experience and become better than it was in 2019, when it won a SUNYAC championship.

“I think this year’s team is closer earlier in the season and our freshmen really bought into our system and how we do things at Brockport,” Jennings said.

Brockport will look to get back in the win column on Wednesday, March 11, when it takes a trip up north to face Clarkson University. The Golden Eagles will then square off with Salisbury on Saturday, March 14 and Montclair State University on Monday, March 16. All three games are opportunities for Brockport to pick up road wins that will help it climb back up the national rankings.

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