After defeating Seton Hill on March 8, the Slippery Rock women’s lacrosse team headed to Florida to continue playing over spring break. The Rock was led by captains: senior attack Chynna Chan, senior defender Brittany Brewer, senior defender Miranda Reininger and junior goalie Emily Bitka played three games down in Florida. The four captains were selected by the team.
Bitka feels honored to have been selected as a team captain in her first year at The Rock.
“It’s an exciting feeling,” Bitka said. “It’s something I look forward to. I came here because it was a team feeling and got welcomed with open arms.”
The team started the trip playing against Saint Anselm College in Davenport, Fla. Slippery Rock won the game 13-12 in overtime. Redshirt junior Ally Culhane opened the scoring for The Rock. Saint Anselm responded with the next two goals until Slippery Rock responded with goals by Culhane and two from junior Bre Vodde. Saint Anselm scored the last goal of the half and the teams were tied 4-4 at halftime. The Rock scored eight goals in the second half. Chan started off the scoring for The Rock, followed by goals from senior Caitlynn Palladino and freshman Lisa Casagrande. Chan and Palladino each added another goal in the second half, and sophomore Erin Brown also scored for The Rock before allowing three unanswered goals. Redshirt sophomore Tia Torchia added the next two Slippery Rock goals, the second one with no time remaining in the second half, to force overtime. Vodde completed the hat trick in overtime to claim the 13-12 win. Bitka made seven saves in the win.
“Our attack has been very balanced and that’s what were looking for,” head coach Emily Hopkins said.
The second game of the trip saw Slippery Rock take on The University of Tampa. Slippery Rock defeated Tampa by a score of 13-12. Slippery Rock had hat tricks from Vodde, Palladino and Torchia to account for nine of the 13 goals. Also scoring for The Rock in the win were Chan, who added two goals, and freshmen Tori Penders and Shyanne Toomer, who both scored their first career goals in a Slippery Rock uniform. Bitka made five saves and improved her record to 3-0.
The last game of the trip took Slippery Rock to Ave Marie, Fla. to take on Georgetown College. Slippery Rock won the game 16-10 behind eight unanswered goals at the end of the first half continuing into the second half. Palladino led the way with four goals, Penders added three, and Chan added two. Vodde, Caagrande, freshman Kelsey Thoensen, Torchia, freshman Sami Gentzler, Brewer and Toomer all scored one in the contest. The goals by Thoensen and Gentzler were their first career goals at Slippery Rock. Both goalies saw time in the game, with Bitka recording the win and making five saves, while freshman Tori Greco made two saves.
Coach Hopkins has been pleased with Bitka’s performance so far this season. “Bitka’s our goalie, and has made an impact.”
The team traveled back up to Pennsylvania and went to Edinboro for the second Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) match-up. The Rock got off to a slow start but pulled out a 7-3 win to move to 5-0 on the season and 2-0 in PSAC play. This start marks the best in Slippery Rock women’s lacrosse history.
Slippery Rock led 2-1 at the half, behind goals from Torchia and Chan. The second half was all Slippery Rock as The Rock outscored Edinboro 5- 2. The five Rock goals were scored by Chan, Palladino, Culhane and Vodde. Bitka got her fifth win in the cage while making seven saves.
Coach Hopkins is very excited about her team’s 5-0 start.
“We’re pumped about it and trying to stay that way, and have to prepare for the game against East Stroudsburg this weekend. We have learned that our team can definitely battle,” she said.
Palladino and Vodde are tied for the team lead in goals with 12 each, and Chand and Torchia are tied for third with eight goals each.
The next game for the team is March 26 against East Stroudsburg at Mihalik-Thompson Stadium, with the game starting at 12 p.m.
“I think this game will be more like the Seton Hill and Saint Anselm-type competitions and we’ll try to get as ready as we can,” Hopkins said.
Bitka added, “We have a lot of preparing to do to get ready, but the mindset is to continue being undefeated.”