AU women’s lacrosse clutches up for 12-11 victory over Bucknell

A close battle ranks AU fourth in the Patriot League

AU women’s lacrosse clutches up for 12-11 victory over Bucknell
AU lacrosse huddles on March 10, when the team played GW.

The AU women’s lacrosse team (8-6) triumphed over Bucknell in the last minute and a half of their April 13 home game. Standout performances from Jordan Mitchell, Kendall Goldblum and Stefanie Walsh guided the team from two rough middle quarters into bold playmaking in the final quarter.

The first quarter was a strong start for the Eagles. Walsh scored an unassisted goal after an aggressive Bucknell offense held possession the first six minutes of the game. A defensive play from Mitchell got the ball into friendly hands, setting up AU’s offense. 

“She’s a markup defender for us, you know,” Head Coach Lindsay Teeters said. “She brings so much energy, and that’s one of the best parts about her, it’s not just the play she provides. It’s her personality that really brings the entire team up a level.” 

In the draw afterward, Goldblum battled the ball back into the Eagles’ claws for an impressive streak of possession. Attacker Emma Vinall put notable pressure on Bucknell’s defense, but they didn’t crack. After regaining possession, the Bison tied the game up with a lethal shot from Taylor Kopan.

AU brushed the goal off with their play in the last four minutes. Walsh finally cracked the Bison’s defense with another unassisted goal in the last 46 seconds of the quarter. With only 16 seconds remaining, Maddy Spratt set the back of the net on fire with an unassisted goal of her own, putting the score at 3-1 for the Eagles. 

Going into the second quarter, Bucknell managed to score twice within the first five minutes, tying the game up and shifting the momentum. Spratt picked the Eagles’ offense back up with a goal after a feed from Alyssa Apuzzo, who had been probing Bucknell’s defense. Another goal by the Bison’s Kopan followed within the minute, setting the tone for a viciously close game.

“I think we flip-flopped from being a first-half team to being a second-half team this year,” Teeters said. “I think the important piece now for us is to be able to put them together. Making sure you know, we start strong, end strong, and battle in the middle. That’s going to be a big thing for us going forward.”

Bucknell scored again with five minutes remaining in the first half, but Katie Pierce tied the game at 5-5. Bucknell was able to hold possession afterwards, and a brutal 3-goal-streak by the Bisons ended the half with AU in a tough spot. 

Playing catch-up, AU started the second half by winning a draw for possession. After a few tries, Walsh scored another unassisted goal. With the score at 6-8, the Eagles competed with a willingness to make plays happen. 

Another goal from Kopan lit a fire in AU’s offense, who responded with Walsh’s fourth and final goal of the game. Afterwards, Goldblum began her reign with an unassisted goal. AU’s defense tried to seal the gates tight, but the Bisons put the score at 8-10 with a goal during the final minute. 

Beginning with the burden of disadvantage, the Eagles had to be tough going into the final quarter.

“We talk a lot about mental toughness and this idea of a winner’s mentality,” Teeters said. “I think they’re finally taking that to heart, you know? This is a game they’ve wanted, and they’ve lost to Bucknell — there are seniors, super seniors who have lost to them three times. It was really important for them to get this game.” 

The Eagles started the final quarter with an aggressive offense that made way for what looked like an early goal, but the referee called a foul on one of the Bison. Rather than counting the goal made during the whistle as a continuation, the official made the Eagles take the free shot. 

After a block from Bucknell’s goalie, another free shot call, a near miss, and a third and final free shot awarded to AU, Goldblum scored the first goal of the quarter. 

Bucknell tried to respond, but AU’s defense played in high gear for the entire final quarter. Mary Alice Collins’ goaltending prowess gave the Eagles a few saves. Mitchell and Vinall capitalized on this and played impressive roles moving the ball from defense to offense. With eight minutes remaining, Goldblum tied the game with her third goal for AU. 

Locked into a deadly tie, the Eagles and the Bison battled back and forth, neither team’s defense willing to budge. Finally, the tie was broken with a beautiful goal from Apuzzo, putting AU back in the lead for the first time since early in the second quarter. The lead didn’t last long, with Kopan scoring once again, and setting the score at 11-11 with three minutes left to go. 

With the tension turned up to 11, the nail-biting match continued at breakneck speeds. Both teams hustled, attacking and defending furiously as the minutes ticked away. With only a minute and a half left, Goldblum scored her fourth and final goal, and the Eagles defense followed with a maximum-security lockdown. The Bison’s final stampede wasn’t enough to clinch victory from the jaws of defeat, and the Eagles flew away with a 12-11 victory in the final minute. 

wtimme@theeagleonline.com 

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