|RIT’s Megan Henriksen (#2) looks for an open player during a Saturday, April 23 game against Stevens.
My heart was heavy. My spirit was crushed. I had witnessed 60-plus minutes of outstanding lacrosse from the RIT Women’s team, and the end result was not what I hoped. When the Stevens Ducks’ Kara Rafferty scored her team’s twelfth goal in overtime, I, along with every other RIT fan in the bleachers, knew that any chance of RIT pulling off a major upset Saturday afternoon had been lost.
The loss certainly stung the Tigers deep, as they entered the game coming off a 16-7 win against Hartwick just the day before on April 22. RIT (6-9, 5-3 Empire 8) had hopes to build some momentum going into the Empire 8 Tournament, but these ambitions were dashed after the Ducks, ranked ninth nationally by the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association Division III poll, overcame an early 5-2 deficit after the first period.
It was Stevens’ Joey Galligan that sparked the Ducks to score three straight goals at the beginning of the second period, a run capped by Jenna Scheibling’s free position goal at the 17:59 mark. RIT answered with two goals of their own, with the first credited to third year New Media Marketing major Rebecca Lampson; while the second went to Shelby Vakiener, a second year Civil Engineering major. That goal was Vakiener’s second of the game, but she would go on to finish with five. Vakiener also finished with seven total points and two assists.
After those two goals, the match turned into a true dogfight, with each team trying to one-up the other. Two goals were scored by Stevens in a span of 2:20, which fueled RIT’s drive to keep pace with the Ducks. By the 3:27 mark in the second period, RIT had been given a one-goal lead at 9-8 with Vakiener’s fourth goal, her 52nd this season.
Right there was RIT’s chance to shine. They had the chance to pull off the biggest win of the season, but they just couldn’t do it. Not yet, at least. The Ducks, showing their might, scored two straight goals to take their first lead of the game with 1:03 left. Then Vakiener, who had carried the team thus far, carried her team just a little further, scoring a goal to make it 10-10 with 25 seconds left in play. The game went into overtime after Stevens failed to score again.
Given another chance to pull away, RIT faced off in two overtime sessions. Needless to say, Stevens dominated both, scoring twice in the first session and twice again in the second. The final score was 14-10, and an emphatic RIT crowd that had cheered with the women’s every move went home disappointed.
Despite the loss, Head Coach Jeff McGuigan, in his fifth season with RIT, was proud of his team’s effort against such a tough offensive opponent. “[Stevens] tries to get 30-40 shots per game; we tried to limit that. They’re a very, very good offensive team,” said McGuigan. “ I would think that we’d have problems, but our team played really, really well. They did more than I thought they’d do. They just sucked it up and played some great defense out there.”
The game was RIT’s final home game of the season. The Tigers, however, have one more game this season, an away match against SUNY Geneseo on April 28. After that, the Empire 8 Tournament will be held May 7 - 8.