The Slippery Rock University women’s lacrosse team (1-2, 0-2 in PSAC) opened conference play for the first time in over a year when they faced Indiana (Pa.) (1-2, 1-1) Sunday and continued action against No. 22 Mercyhurst (3-1, 1-0) Wednesday.
The Rock is now in the midst of its 13-game schedule, and the rest of it comes against PSAC West opponents. SRU got its first taste of the PSAC against IUP and feels that it has what it takes to be up there in the league this spring.
“I thought that we worked very hard for 60 minutes and we were able to do some nice things in transition, but on both ends we just didn’t execute the fundamentals like we have been in practice and we did against Tiffin,” head coach Kelsey Van Alstyne said. “We had some very fixable mistakes and we beat ourselves a little bit.”
The Rock went down early in the first half when the Crimson Hawks’ Leah Hunter scored first and then only about five minutes later Jordan Kulp put them up 2-0.
The Green and White had a strong push over the next six minutes and went up 3-2, when junior attacker Emily Benham scored her fourth goal of the season. A minute later sophomore attacker Jamie Dicarlo scored her second goal of the season to tie the game and then she scored her third of the season shortly after.
Benham and Dicarlo led The Rock with three goals. Benham has been a streak lately and has been scoring all over the place for The Rock. The team has fed off of her energy. A junior from Rochester, New York, Benham has led the team in scoring thus far. She has had a hat trick in every game this season and she doesn’t look to be slowing down.
“I feel like it was a game of back and forth, at one point we made it a one point game and then they brought it back,” Van Alstyne said. “I think every time that happened, we tried to use our timeouts to talk about what we needed to adjust and change to stay in the game, but the same problems plagued us for 60 minutes.”
At the half, the game was 5-3 with IUP on top, but Van Alstyne said that the team used the break to go over things and try to figure out a way to stay in the game.
And that talk helped the team get back within one point.
But then, Kulp scored her third goal of the game to put IUP up by two. The Rock would get it back to a one-point game one more time with 15 minutes left in the game, when Benham scored her third goal.
“It was awesome [getting back to PSAC play for the first time in over a year], IUP is a very fast and physical team and we were supposed to have that game May 1, but we actually had to bump it up because of playoffs,” Van Alstyne said. “Every time we play them though, it’s always a lot of fun. And the PSAC is no joke, so we have to clean up a lot of things if we want to be successful.”
The Rock ultimately dropped the game to IUP, 12-8, but they had a lot of glimpses of hope in a game where they made a lot of mistakes. They believe that if they are to fix these mistakes as the schedule moves along, that they can be a force in the PSAC.
Slippery Rock returned to action against #22 Mercyhurst Wednesday and held their own in very tightly contested game. The game featured multiple lead changes and saw Benham score three goals in a row to register her third straight hat trick.
“I thought it was a really hard-fought game, and it was tied at the half and we had a few mistakes that got away from us a little bit, but we never stopped fighting,” Van Alstyne said. “I really applaud my girls for that, and I think we’re really close to putting it all together.”
It was The Rock’s second PSAC game of a dozen-game PSAC schedule. It was a tough one against a nationally ranked team. The Rock had a few mental errors that helped the Lakers get back into the game multiple times. Mercyhurst was able to tie up the game with only eight seconds left in the half, and less than three minutes into the second half, Paige Cocina put the Lakers up by two.
“I told the team that typically we get to play 17 games and not only 13, and you learn some of these things throughout the [non-conference games] and because we only had one, we’re still in the early part of the season,” Van Alstyne said. “We definitely got better from the mistakes we made at IUP, which is a huge testament to this team and I’m really proud of them.”
The Rock was hit hard by the runs the Lakers had, and those are what wound up deciding the game. In the second half, Mercyhurst scored nine goals and had back-to-back goals three times. But, Dicarlo and Benham kept the team close and the team needed every goal of theirs.
“They both are doing really well, they have very different styles as Emily is a big driver for us and she’s been taking her girls one on one and Jamie draws the defenders towards her, but overall, they’ve just been playing really well,” Van Alstyne said. “We have a lot of kids scoring right now, and every goal helps get the momentum back in our corner and the team does a nice job of rallying around everyone and anyone.”
The Rock dropped the game to Mercyhurst, 16-12, but didn’t go down without a fight. They play IUP and Mercyhurst again in just a couple of weeks and are hoping to be an improved team by the time they get there.
In the meantime, they’ll be going on the road to face Seton Hill and Edinboro this upcoming week. In the return to action on Saturday at Seton Hill, the team will look to do what Van Alstyne thinks they are close to doing and put it all together.
“My hopes are that the things we weren’t able to be successful at, that we come to practice and fix those mistakes, so hopefully as we play each of these teams we get better and better,” Van Alstyne said.