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Women's lacrosse earns top 25 win to start title defense

by Paul Cifonelli - Sports Editor
Wed, Feb 26th 2020 11:00 am
Fifth year Heather Conklin carries the ball upfield with two players from Denison University defensing her on Sunday, Feb. 23. Conklin scored two goals and had two assists during Brockport's season-opening victory.
Fifth year Heather Conklin carries the ball upfield with two players from Denison University defensing her on Sunday, Feb. 23. Conklin scored two goals and had two assists during Brockport's season-opening victory.

Following a SUNYAC championship during the 2019 season, The College at Brockport women’s lacrosse team had to find a way to retool its roster after the departure of 10 seniors. Even with the losses, the expectations for this season were still high, as Brockport was ranked #21 in the IWLCA preseason poll. The Golden Eagles’ first big test of the season came in the opener against #22 Denison University.

This season is slightly different for Brockport in that they have received national attention before any games have been played. In 2019, the win over Denison was considered an upset, but that was not the same for this campaign. Despite the early target placed on its back, Brockport prepared for the season mostly the same as it always does.

“This season has been a bit different because we’ve gotten to go outside almost every day since January,” junior attacker Emma Nevers said. “We haven’t been limited to practicing in a gym, so we’ve been able to get some full-field drills in at practice and get a feel for how a game will run.”

Brockport traveled to Denison to kick off last season. The Golden Eagles were able to come away with a 16-15 victory in 2019. However, 10 of the 16 goals Brockport scored in that game were by players who are no longer on the roster. In this year’s iteration of the game, many players who were on the team last year in a lesser role stepped up for the Golden Eagles.

Both teams traded goals in the first half, with no team getting a lead bigger than one. The score at the break was 7-7. Freshman attacker Natalie Strough and fifth year attacker Heather Conklin both scored twice in the first half, while senior attacker Chloe Kurst netted three in the first 30 minutes. Sophomore attacker Emily Caramore picked up an assist on one of Kurst’s goals.

Kurst picked up right where she left off in the second half, netting Brockport’s first goal of the period and tacking one on later to give the Golden Eagles a 12-10 lead. Denison responded with a goal, but Strough and freshman attacker Courtney Cunningham gave Brockport a 3-goal lead. Another goal for the Big Red in the final minute did nothing to change the outcome, as Brockport came away with a 14-12 victory in its season opener.

Sophomore attacker Allison Jennings scored twice for the Golden Eagles in the second half and sophomore midfielder Erin Wegrzyn found the back of the net once. Conklin and Strough both had two assists in the half, while Kurst had one. Sophomore goalie Morgan Elmer also had 16 saves on the day, tying the career-high she set in her first game last season.

The win over Denison was not only big for the Golden Eagles because it gets them off to a 1—0 start, but because it gives the new players confidence moving forward.

“It definitely sets a starting point because we lost a lot of seniors last year, so I think we had a good mentality and the mindset that we can actually compete in the SUNYAC and can actually compete with the rest of the teams,” Elmer said.

Brockport has a long layoff in between games. Its next matchup will be on Saturday, March 7, at 11 a.m., when the Golden Eagles host Ithaca College.

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Taken by Vincent Croce:
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