On Tuesday, the Slippery Rock University women’s lacrosse team welcomed the Seton Hill Griffins into town for an in-league clash at Mihalik-Thompson Stadium. Three days earlier, the Rock had fallen at the hands of No. 21 East Stroudsburg in a late 9-7 effort. The contest, which dropped the girls’ season mark to 5-3, was its fourth straight against a nationally ranked PSAC foe.
Seton Hill unboarded the bus after their road trip from Greensburg with a deceptive 2-7 record, all but one of those defeats coming against ranked teams. Even then, it was a one-goal loss against Bloomsburg, who sits second in the conference.
The opening draw was pushed up two hours to 2 p.m. to ensure a Seton Hill player could play and still get to an important family gathering, but the Rock was unfazed, hopping out to an impressive start. The scoreboard was uniform at 1-1 a third of the way into the first period, but a commanding nine-goal run by eight different SRU scorers paved the way for an 11-3 halftime lead.
The Griffins had little fight in the second half. They could only manage seven shots on goal, none of them connecting with the twine, before SRU head coach Kelsey Van Alstyne pulled starting goalie Emily Bitka to give freshman Haley Barrett game experience with what was then a comfortable 15-3 lead. Freshman attacker Francesca Lindelow, who was the game’s scoring leader with five goals and an assist, reeled off three second-half scores, which were followed up by a tally from a fellow freshman, midfielder Caitlyn Byerly.
Coming into the game ranked fourth in the country with a .536 save percentage, the senior Bitka guarded the net’s mouth for almost 54 minutes, turning away ten of the Griffins’ 15 shots on goal. Barrett, a freshman from Webster, New York, entered the game with a few ticks over six minutes left, making her first career save as part of the Rock.
“It would have been nice to shut [Seton Hill out in the second half] but any time you give up, against any team, four goals, it’s great,” Van Alstyne said of the team’s strong defensive effort. “It’s definitely what you want.”
“This was a really big step for us today because we just felt like we didn’t close out the [East Stroudsburg] game on Saturday like we wanted to,” she added. “Especially because everyone played and everyone contributed.”
In all, eleven different girls posted at least one goal against Seton Hill. The girls will hope to continue distributing the ball and scoring in a three-game road trip that begins Friday against the Millersville Marauders. The games will be important in the Rock’s push toward the playoffs.
“We’re really just focusing on one game at a time and trying to improve on the things that we didn’t do well and caused us to lose to those other teams so that we are ready for playoffs,” Van Alstyne said.