In the home opener of its 10th season as a varsity program, the Elon University women’s lacrosse team lost a close contest to Old Dominion University, 12-11.

“We got to just remember to have more fun when we play,” head coach Josh Hexter said. “We have to be a lot more poised and have more fun.”

The Monarchs began with back-to-back goals. The game would be back-and-forth for the remainder of the matchup, with neither team taking greater than a two-goal lead.

The Phoenix ended the first half with a pair of goals from sophomore attacker Cierra Hopson in the final 45 seconds. Hopson’s goals came from transition offense, initiated by defensive stops by freshmen goalie Caitlin Walsh and midfielder Anna Hackett.

“The freshmen are awesome. They came in ready to go. We were super excited to have them playing the first game,” Hopson said. “They definitely will have a good impact this year on our team, and we're just super excited that they are a part of our team.”

Hopson picked up right where she left off in the first half, scoring the second half's first goal and assisting on the second to fellow sophomore midfielder Sammy Fisher.

The second half would resume the back-and-forth nature of the first, with neither team taking a considerable lead. Elon continued to dominate in the middle of the field, clearing the ball an efficient 88% and causing the Monarchs to turn the ball over 22 times. Junior defender and captain Kailee Follette played a key role, clearing the ball single-handley on numerous attempts.

“Follette is a natural leader, matching those with her leadership skills and her physical attributes,”  Hexter said. “She's fast. She can turn the corner on kids and then get off the field. “

Katherine Martin | Elon News Network
Elon fans put their hands up in frustration after a call is made by the referees late in the forth quarter of Elon's first game against Old Dominion on Jan 11. The Phoenix lost 11-12

The game-winning goal would ultimately come from the stick of Old Dominion sophomore attacker Payton Kisling. The Phoenix had a chance to score the game-tying goal with 15 seconds remaining. However, a great defensive stand by the Monarchs led to senior midfielder Hannah McCarthy’s shot being swatted.

Hopson scored a team-high four goals, along with an assist. Fisher and junior attacker Bridget Kelly each added two goals. Elon was led by their captains of the defensive end, junior midfielder Michaela Buoscio with seven caused turnovers and Follettee with six draw controls, both team highs.

“They're using their leadership to build us back up and get even better from last year,” Hopson said. “This year, they have been really helpful and using their leadership to progress us just one more step forward.”

With the loss, Elon will start 0-1 on the season. Elon will continue their homestand to begin the season with a matchup against the Queens University of Charlotte Royals (0-1) on Feb. 15. The game is scheduled to start at 5 p.m.