NORTH CANTON, Ohio—Franciscan University women's lacrosse team fell 19-2 to Walsh University in what proved to be its most mentally challenging game of the season thus far.
"We started off slow, but we got the draw, we got the first possession, and we scored first," head coach Maura Conant said. "And then we just couldn't get the fire going underneath us."
An unassisted goal by sophomore team captain Tracy McClelland less than three minutes into the first half looked like a good start for the Lady Barons but Walsh quickly returned with several points of their own to change the balance of the game.
For the remainder of the half, Walsh dominated draw controls and ground balls, tallying 17 and 26 respectively to FUS's six and 10. Limited possession made it difficult for the Lady Barons to combat offensively, keeping the ball mainly in the defensive end of the field.
"It was a mental breakdown," Conant said. "If you're mentally and emotionally off, you can't execute because you're just too much in your own head."
Down 15-1 at the half, the Lady Barons were faced with the decision to continue in defeat or finish the game fighting.
They chose to fight.
Though still struggling to win draw controls and ground balls, the women cut their turnovers by more than half and increased their clears from 1-6 in the first half to 6-9 in the second.
More importantly, the defense stepped up, allowing Walsh less than half of previous shot opportunities and limiting the opposing team's goals to four.
A strong force on the defensive squad was sophomore Emily Bedard who Conant said never tired in her efforts.
"Emily is a super consistent player on defense," Conant said. "She's always good."
Bedard's efforts, along with the Lady Barons' perseverance allowed them to finish with a second-half score of 4-1. Sophomore Shannon Root scored the second goal of the game for the Lady Barons.
Conant said that the team can learn a lesson in mental and emotional strength from the loss.
"It happens. These things make you stronger," Conant said.
The Lady Barons next play Thiel College at home on April 10 at 5pm.
"Our team does better when there's a quick turnaround, so we're looking forward to Thursday," Conant said. "We're continue to grow as a team, figuring out what's best for us and how to mentally prepare ourselves. We just have to start to want it more than our opponents."