Elon University women’s lacrosse fell in the home opener to the University of Virginia Cavaliers 11-4.
After the game, head coach Josh Hexter said that despite the score, the team fought hard against the No.14 team in the nation.
“I think we competed really well. We clearly need more of our attack — the attack was a little bit invisible today. Our defense stepped up and did a great job. We need to be a little more disciplined in all phases of the game,” Hexter said.
The first half was all Virginia as the Cavaliers shocked the Phoenix by jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first four minutes of the game. This prompted Hexter to call a timeout and gather his team.
“We switched defenses up, and I just wanted them to take a deep breath, but they were fine,” Hexter said about the nature of the timeout.
Following the timeout, the Phoenix answered with its first goal of the day from sophomore midfielder Mae McGlynn, the highlight of the Elon offense. But one goal was not enough to spark the offensive production, and the Cavaliers would go on to score four more goals. The Phoenix finished the half down 7-1.
In the second half, the defense started to stand up, holding the Cavaliers to four goals for the remainder of the game. This success is due partially to the solid play of redshirt-sophomore goalie Paulina DiFatta, who made eight crucial saves in the second half alone.
Two of the eight saves came in the free position when Virginia attackers had an open shot on the goalie.
“I just have to concentrate on the ball, nothing else. Block everything else out, and just focus on the ball at that time,” DiFatta said.
With the defense giving cushion, the offense started to produce. Freshman attacker Kaley Thompson sliced through the defense and buried a shot into the bottom left corner for an unassisted goal.
McGlynn followed Thompson's lead and scored two more times to complete her second straight hat trick and extend her season total to eight goals.
“It felt great. I think we worked together really well as a team, and we communicated well. Our defense played amazing — that's what kept us up,” McGlynn said.
Despite the defensive effort, the short burst from the offense was not enough to match the fast-paced attack of the Cavaliers.
“We've got to learn from this game, and we've got to communicate better. We have to go to goal and keep our heads up. We just need to learn from this and take the next step — focus on the next game,” McGlynn said.
The Phoenix will return to Rudd Field Wednesday, Feb. 20, against the Winthrop University Eagles. For DiFatta, the most important thing to do now is to move on and learn from this game.
“I think we did a terrific job today. I think we just have to watch film and come out to practice and bring that energy like we always do," DiFatta said. "We can only go up from here and learn from the past."