The GW women’s lacrosse team entered Friday’s home match with the chance to kill two birds with one stone: A win over Richmond would have not only clinched a trip to the Atlantic 10 tournament for the Colonials, but would have kept out the Spiders, a perennial conference power.
But GW was unable to match its conference rival’s intensity, falling 21-12 in a game in which head coach Tara Hannaford said the circumstances created an extra burden for the Colonials.
“It wasn’t just that we could have clinched [a berth],” Hannaford said after the game. “The pressure was on us because we knew that if we won, that meant that Richmond might not make the championships at all.”
Instead, GW (4-10, 3-2 A-10) is now tied for third place with the Spiders and must win at least one of its remaining two games of the season to move on to championship play.
Coming off an 18-5 loss to UMass, the Colonials were efficient before halftime, scoring seven goals on 11 shots and even spending much of the first half in the lead. But they were unable to keep pace with Richmond’s onslaught in the second half, as the Spiders had two four-goal runs and outshot the Colonials 23-13. Richmond had twice as many shots on goal as the Colonials, 24-12, in the entire game.
The Colonials committed four times as many fouls as Richmond and were also unsuccessful in draws, as Richmond won 21 of the game’s 35. Richmond also dominated possession, leaving few factors in GW’s favor.
“It’s really important in this game that we attack constantly on the attack side and defensively, and that intensity was missing in our play today,” Hannaford said. “We went maybe one or two girls [after loose balls] while they went four.”
After a tough nonconference schedule left GW with an 0-9 record to begin the season, the Colonials have been able to turn it around during the conference slate, a development freshman midfielder Sarah Phillips attributes to the season’s difficult start.
“We definitely improved in Atlantic 10 play,” Phillips said. “It was nice to have had harder preparation in our nonconference schedule.”
Phillips was named last week’s A-10 Rookie of the Week after scoring nine points in two games last weekend. She added four assists in Friday’s game and is second on the team with 28 points.
Hannaford is happy with the way her freshmen have settled into the team and believes the youth of her squad – 14 of the team’s 24 players are either freshmen or sophomores – are making significant contributions. Freshman attack Megan Seidman was also named the conference’s rookie of the week earlier this season.
“Adjusting to the college game can be a hard transition, but they’ve done a really great job of it,” Hannaford said. “Having so few returning starters has given all the players an opportunity to step up.”
While Hannaford wants her entire team to pick up its level of intensity, she’s looking for the defense to communicate better to stop runs from the opposing team and to hustle better.
Up next for GW is Saint Joseph’s, which is currently in second place in the conference with a 4-1 record. The Hawks beat La Salle last weekend and have already clinched an A-10 tournament berth. The Colonials will hope to lock up a spot of their own when the teams meet Friday in Philadelphia.