This past weekend, the Loras College women’s lacrosse team had their season opener against the University of Concordia Chicago (8-13) on Friday, March 15 however, this wasn’t their only game this weekend. The team was able to take it to Benedictine University (17-15) on Saturday, March 16 and capture their first win of the season.
“It’s tough playing back to back in a weekend, but it was our first two games and coming off a win in one we’re feeling pretty good,” said Veljacic. “Because we’re such a small team, a lot of our focus this year with so many games coming up is recovery, so taking care of our bodies to be ready for the next game is key.”
The team’s season would have started last week, but the poor weather conditions delayed last week’s home opener. This past Friday, the Concordia Chicago Cougars came out hot leaving a 7-4 lead at the halftime break. When the teams came back to start the next half, the Cougars were still steaming from the first half and went on a four-goal streak over a 3:06 time frame to take a seven-goal lead.
The blitzkrieg stunned the Duhawks, however the team managed to recover with two goals from first-year mid-fielder Clare Brunn within a five minute time period. With 12:42 remaining and Loras trailing by five, the University of Concordia Chicago went down three players, two from green cards and one by a yellow card.
Despite the three-man advantage, the Duhawks were only able to cut the lead down to four with a goal from senior midfielder Renata Veljacic from the free position. With 5:36 left, the cougars scored an insurance goal to put the match out of reach of the Duhawks at 13-8.
Junior defender Rebecca Hiebing made her debut in goal this match after spending the previous two years as a field players. Brunn opened her collegiate career in a big way, becoming the second player in program history to score a hat-trick in their college debut, joining junior mid-fielder teammate Olivia Flynn.
On Saturday, the Duhawks came out fast, finding the net at the 27:56 mark from senior mid-fielder Adira Dangoy. The lead was short lived as their Benedictine University opponent scored a counter goal 10 seconds later.
Veljacic and Flynn scored back to back goals in the 23rd minute within 20 seconds of each other, tying the game at 3 all. Loras then carried that momentum to go on a 3-0 goal run to push a 6-3 lead. Both teams matched each other after that run, ending the first half 10-7 with the lead in favor of the Duhawks.
In the second half, Benedictine cut the lead to one after a pair of goals in the 21st minute. Loras responded with a 4-2 run, which was capped by a goal from Flynn. Brunn also topped her opening day hat-trick with five goals on Saturday. Hiebing set a new career-high with 12 saves and Veljacic recorded two assists in a single game for the first time in her career.
“The first win was really exhilarating,” said Veljacic. “Our offense created the perfect opportunities and we used them to our advantage that led us to finding those open cutters or drives for goals. Our defense and goalie had a lot of stops in the game, which is huge.”
Loras will be on the road this Saturday, March 23 in Monmouth, Ill. to take on the Monmouth Fighting Scots at 1 p.m. at their own facility. To keep up with the game live, be sure to tune in to Duhawks.com.