Lacrosse lights up scoreboard in dominant series against Concordia-St. Paul

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GVL / Annabelle Robinson. GVSU women’s lacrosse game on April 1st, 2021 against Concordia-St. Paul

Holly Bihlman, Staff Writer

Last week, the women’s lacrosse team nailed both games against Concordia- St. Paul’s Golden Bears after taking two weeks off of games. Their return to their home field after a close loss against Indianapolis gave the Lakers a shot to come back swinging, ending both games with a marginally high score. 

On Thursday April 1, freshman attacker Maddy Champagne scored six of their 21 goals in the game, followed by three from senior midfielder Sophie Conroy and another three from sophomore midfielder Molly Bursinger. The first half concluded at 16-1, ending with another five goals from GVSU and one goal from Concordia-St Paul for a score of 21-2. 

Saturday’s game wasn’t much different, as Champagne repeated her success on Thursday for another six points in the game, this time followed by five goals by Conroy and three by freshman midfielder Sydney Stone. The Lakers scored 12 points in the first half, and another six in the second while the Golden Bears split their two points again, to end at 18-2. 

“Our defense played spectacular, especially on Thursday, and our offense had some solid games,” said coach Mackenzie Lawler. 

While both games resulted in high scoring first halves, the second halves slowed down on the scoreboard. The Laker’s defense was practically unbreakable for the Golden Bears, but junior goalie Payton Neil saw a little more action towards the opening of the second half on Saturday. 

“I thought we played a crisp 60 minutes on Thursday from start to finish and today there was just definitely mental lapses on both ends of the field,” Lawler said. “I think that’s what you saw at certain points defensively. We had a lot more turnovers today and so the ball was just down on their end a little but more than it was on Thursday.”

Their defensive faults didn’t cause much damage though. They only allowed one goal by the Golden Bears in the last minute of the second half on Saturday, only to be returned by a last second score by Champagne to round out the final score. 

“We don’t take the pressure off,” Champagne said. “It definitely helps that the defense is composed and just sticks together, because you’ve got to just keep the game going.”

Saturday’s weather also played a little bit of a role in the Laker’s gameplay, but with no huge effect on the scores. The 20mph winds practically blew the goals over.

“I think it affected some of our hearing, but it definitely helped that our teammates echoed out the plays and whatnot, so it wasn’t much of an obstacle for us,” said Champagne. 

For the Lakers, nine new freshman recruits this season, some have been dominating the scoreboards like Champagne and Stone right up next to Conroy and senior midfielder Olivia Esposito. Without the usual rituals of team bonding due to COVID-19 precautions, the girls have had to put together a team at a faster pace and with less time spent together off the field.

“I give a lot of credit to our seniors,” Lawler said. “I think our captains have been outstanding at really trying to bring in our freshman to our team culture. Obviously, they’re getting a lot of playing time and that’s sometimes taken in a little bit of a negative way, but I think our seniors see that as an amazing way and it really adds some depth and more athleticism to our team.”

A large part of the continuation of a team’s success is passing the torch each year to new players that can be leaders both on and off the field. Despite having a larger influx of incoming freshman at the beginning of the year, their sportsmanship shows during game time.

“Those freshmen have really stepped up and helped fill the roles of a big senior class who graduated last year,” Lawler said. 

The currently ranked No. 9 Lakers in the GLIAC are proving to be a fierce opponent this season. They will return to the home field this Saturday, April 10 at 12:00 p.m. to compete against the Davenport Panthers.