Hoarding possession and taking care of the ball, the lacrosse team closed out NJAC play with a 15-1 victory over Rutgers University-Camden last Tuesday, April 16 before handily defeating Neumann University on Thursday, April 18, by a score of 17-3.
The latter result gave the Lions (11-4) a win in their first ever meeting with the CSAC-leading Knights (12-4), who coincidentally also faced Rutgers-Camden this season, in a 20-1 win.
The late-week clash in Pennsylvania was decided early through relentless possession for the road side, as the College took the first nine consecutive draw controls — winning the battle 15-7 overall in over 60 minutes — and exploiting it for a 9-0 first half lead, which would become 16-1 by the waning minutes.
It was a contrast to games the week before, when the College was outdrawn against No. 2 Salisbury University and held to a stalemate in draw controls with Montclair State University.
“I think the main difference was that we were able to do a good job of controlling the direction of the draw,” senior attacker Jillian Nelaon said. “My goal is to get the ball to (junior midfielder) Lauren Pigott’s direction and I was able to do that pretty well and Lauren and the rest of the team did a great job of making sure they got possession.”
Nealon and Pigott combined for 10 of the Lions’ 15 draw controls, and the team managed to take good care of the ball when they won it. The Lions turned the ball over 10 times compared to 21 Knights turnovers, 10 of which were unforced.
Nealon paced the Lions on the scoreboard with seven points, while junior Jen Garavente scored a game-high four goals to lift her career total past the centennial mark to 103, of which 44 were scored this year.
“Jen is a very good player,” Nealon said. “She has extremely quick feet, which allows her to beat defenders but she also has great timing and cuts and knows how to get herself open.”
Last week’s other win came against the struggling Scarlet Knights (6-7), who are winless in conference play this season and continued to follow that script in Lions Stadium.
In similar fashion to the win over Neumann, the Lions again outdrew, out-possessed and outplayed their opponent for a big lead, this time rolling up a 12-0 advantage by halftime.
The Lions won 12 of 17 draw controls, but took even better care of the ball, turning it over just twice in over 60 minutes to win the turnover battle, 8-2.
“I think we just played smart and under control,” Nealon said. “We have really been focusing on limiting our turnovers by making better decisions, particularly on attack.”
Nealon again led all players with seven points, while Pigott scored four goals on six shots, sophomore attacker Kendal Borup added three scores, and sophomore Erin Waller rounded out the week with another three points and three draw controls.
The Lions next take on Stevens Institute of Technology on Tuesday, April 23 and Cabrini College this Thursday, April 25 before wrapping up the regular season the following week.