Winning for the second year in a row, the University of Indianapolis women’s lacrosse team defeated the University of Alabama-Huntsville Chargers, despite the Chargers’ hope for payback after losing their season opener to the Hounds last year, according to Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach Jillian Howley.
“They were a first year team, too,” she said. “They were undefeated [before the game] and then they saw us for their home opener, the first game to ever be played on Charger Field with an opening ceremony and presentation, and we beat them. It was their first loss of the year. So they are definitely coming out with a fire underneath them and ready to go.”
The Hounds destroyed UAH’s undefeated record on March 4. The women notched nine goals before allowing the Chargers to score their first on a free position shot. The Hounds quickly answered back, scoring two more before the end of the first half. UIndy went on to score six more goals in the second half to UAH’s three, winning the game 18-4.
Seven Hounds contributed in scoring, led by junior attack Anna Rulapaugh with six, followed by senior attack Chalane Morrison and sophomore attack Hanna Priddy, each with four. Sophomore goalie Lauren Granville in her debuted start, and recorded five saves.
Prior to the win, the team travelled to New York to take on St. Thomas Aquinas College and Mercy College, going 1-1 for the weekend.
The Hounds battled the Spartans down to the final minutes of play to claim a 7-6 victory on Feb. 26.
The match was scoreless until halfway into the first half, when STAC grabbed two goals back-to-back, allowing the Spartans to take the first lead 2-0. Morrison grabbed the Hounds’ first goal with nine minutes left in the first half, bringing the score to 2-1 to close the half. The team took 16 shots on goal in the first half, with only one being a goal. The play was sloppy on both sides of the ball, according to Head Coach Jillian Howley.
“We were actually moving really well in the first half and moving with a purpose, but we just couldn’t hit the net, or we were hitting the goalie too much, so that was tough,” Howley said. “Their [STAC’s] coach called a timeout before I could, and that gave us a good chance to reset and refocus.”
Howley said the team came out “real hard” after halftime, quickly scoring three goals within three minutes of the start. Freshman attack/midfield Kailee King snagged the first goal, Rulapaugh claimed the second one, and King grabbed her second goal to make the score 4-2. The Spartans then called a timeout, causing a momentum shift, and they answered with three goals of their own to take the lead 5-4. King scored another goal to tie the game, but the Spartans turned around and grabbed another goal to lead 6-5 with six minutes remaining.
With five minutes remaining, Morrison assisted Rulapaugh in scoring to tie the game. Rulapaugh scored again two minutes later, and the Hounds held on to win.
Howley said the victory on the East Coast, which is known for lacrosse, was a confidence boost for the Greyhounds.
“It was really exciting to see our girls persevere, dig deep, not give up, and to shoot and make it count,” she said. “We told them before the weekend that if we were able to go out and compete with these teams, then we were heading into the right direction… I think it’s really the biggest win in program history for sure.”
Freshman attack Grace Gunneson said she thought the team’s loss to Mercy prior to the STAC matchup helped motivate the team to come out victorious against the Spartans.
“We would have liked to come out with a win on Friday, but it really made us want the win on Sunday that much more,” Gunneson said. “We wanted to come back, going 1-1, so I think our effort really showed out on Sunday. We played a full 60 minutes giving it our all.”
The Greyhounds took their first loss of the season against Mercy on Feb. 24, falling 14-7.
The Mavericks, in their season and home opener, started off fast with three goals within the first four minutes. Mercy claimed three more goals before Gunneson could snag two goals for the Hounds, the second with four minutes remaining in the first half.
Howley said the score did not represent how well the team actually played during the matchup.
“We went down 6-0, and it could have gone one of two ways. We could have allowed them to keep scoring, but we picked ourselves up and were able to chip away and got close,” Howley said.
The team did bring the score close in the second half. With each Maverick goal, the
Hounds answered with one or two of their own, eventually bringing the score to 10-7 with 12 minutes remaining. Mercy called a timeout to pick up their momentum against and scored the last four goals of the matchup. Gunneson led the Hounds with four goals on the day, and King, Morrison and freshman midfield Kelly Pinkerton each scored one, respectively.
With a current record of 4-1, Howley is happy with the way the team has transitioned so far season and believes it’s partially due to the change in pace from last year’s inaugural season. The Hounds began their 2015-16 season against currently ranked No. 2 Lindenwood University, which Howley said was the toughest team the Hounds saw all year.
“Opening up with such a difficult team last year, I think some of our girls got shell-shocked, and if we would have had the chance to play them later in the season, I think we could have performed better,” she said. “Last year, the pace was really, really fast right from the beginning and then maybe slowed down, so I think the biggest thing is that what we want to do moving forward from our trip to New York is playing that level and pace from here on out.”
Gunneson also is happy with the team and said that the while the transition from high school to college athletics is different, it’s been a good transition.
“Obviously the level of play from high school to college is much greater, and it kind of takes a little bit to get used to,” she said.”But it takes a little adjusting when it comes to playing with new people, when you come from playing with the same group all through middle school and high school. I think it’s been a good adjustment so far, and we’re all learning to play well with each other.”
While Howley’s claim that the STAC win was the program’s best and has the team’s excitement at a high level, she said the players are trying to focus on just one game at a time each week.
“We can’t take teams for granted. It’s one game at a time. We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves,” Howley said. “I love the enthusiasm, and I love the mentality, but we can’t get cocky. It’s good to be confident. Confidence is huge; cockiness is tricky.”
The Hounds will head to West Virginia to take on the Shepherd University Rams on March 10. The game is set to begin at 4 p.m.