While SUNY Geneseo continues to push the Oswego State women’s lacrosse team for the No. 4 seed in the SUNYAC playoffs, the Lakers helped themselves to keep even with the Blue Knights after a 12-7 victory Tuesday.
Oswego State (7-7, 4-3 SUNYAC) defeated SUNY New Paltz (4-9, 0-7 SUNYAC) on a sunny afternoon at South Athletic Field despite falling behind early. After giving up a quick Hawks goal, the Lakers outscored their opponent 9-2 over the final 28:41 of the first half.
The Lakers were up 6-2 at the 9:42 mark when freshman Erannan Shattuck dumped down an assist to freshman Esther Gabriel, who stepped into her second goal of the game. About three minutes later, Gabriel earned a hat trick on an unassisted goal off the fast break, extending the lead to 7-2. New Paltz ended an 11 minute drought at 4:25, when sophomore Julia Johnson scored unassisted on her ninth goal of the season. Oswego State promptly answered and scored twice in 93 seconds: freshman Lindsey Eggers scored at 3:15 and junior Courtney Cosentino scored on a free position shot at 2:52. The Lakers went into halftime ahead 9-3.
The second half consisted of much more physical play. The Hawks scored twice in the first six-and-a-half minutes, cutting into their deficit. The Lakers committed six turnovers in the first 13 minutes of the second half and had 12 total turnovers. The Hawks outscored the Lakers 4-1 during the first 25 minutes of the half.
“We got a little complacent in the second half,” head coach Brandi Lusk said. “We honestly did not play our best game, but we still worked very hard to fix our mistakes to come up with the win. It was a good win, and a must win.”
Oswego State junior Brittany Koelmel appeared to score a goal at 9:11, bouncing the ball past the goalie, but a referee waved off the goal and yellow-carded Koelmel for a danger shot. Koelmel was forced to the sideline for a 2:00 penalty, much to the disappointment of the crowd. After several warnings from the referees, head coach Brandi Lusk had to demand her home fans stop arguing the call.
“I think that the refs need to do a better job in being consistent,” Lusk said. “Calls varied on both sides of the field and that can be very confusing for the players when one ref lets you be aggressive and the other blows the whistle quickly.”
On the other end of the field, Oswego State junior goalie Nikki Greco made a pair of game-changing defensive plays. New Paltz sophomore Kelsey Healy attempted free position shots at 8:20 and 8:04, and Greco disrupted both, saving the first and challenging the second, forcing Healy to hit the post. The great play from Greco, reigning Oswego State Athlete of the Week, kept the Lakers ahead, 10-6.
“The Athlete of the Week honor is well deserved,” junior captain Megan McNulty said. “Nikki did a good job being vocal, setting up the defense.”
“Leadership is something that is needed all over the field and both Nikki and (Megan) have worked their butts off to make sure that our team competes in every game,” Lusk said. “They will not accept their team not playing to their potential and will do whatever it takes to motivate everyone.”
New Paltz cut the deficit to three and called a timeout at 6:44 with a man-up advantage. Sophomore Lianna Valdivia found a scoring lane off the pass in and scored her thirty-fourth goal of the season, tied for the ninth most individual goals in the SUNYAC.
Moments later, Gabriel came up limping in front of the New Paltz goal at 5:47. She appeared to roll her ankle, and had to be helped off the field. Senior Michelle Bateman entered the game for Gabriel. Bateman scooped up a ground ball off a New Paltz turnover and took off down the sideline.
“Erannan (Shattuck) was wide open in the middle but I didn’t pass it because I was worried the goalie could make a save and they’d have the ball and I would have to sprint back,” Bateman said. “So I held onto it and passed it to (senior) Danielle Citro behind the cage. She passed it to (freshman) Lindsey (Eggers) cutting from the top and we scored.”
The score put the Lakers ahead 11-7 and all but sealed the game. The team is very pleased with the impact Bateman, in her first season with the women’s lacrosse program after playing four seasons on Oswego State’s soccer team, has made on this season.
“Shelly Bateman is an amazing athlete and I would expect nothing less from her in situations where her team needs her to step up,” Lusk said. “No one can match her speed and I am very happy that she decided to play this year.”
“It’s her first year on the team, but she knows the game,” McNulty said.
“Whenever I see the ball on the ground, I just go for it,” Bateman said. “I know to use my legs in transition unless someone is wide open because turning it over would leave them in a fast break situation.”
Oswego State did a sufficient job playing keep-away the final 4:55 of the game, and expanded the lead to 12-7 in the final minute. Eggers and Gabriel each scored four goals. Lusk said Thursday that Gabriel jammed her knee in Tuesday’s game but is “fine” and will “do a great job for us this weekend.”
Freshman Jayme McCreary scored a pair of goals. Cosentino and senior Michelle Rusky each scored one goal. Shattuck and Gabriel led the team with one assist a piece. Greco finished with nine saves.
After losing three out of four games to begin their conference schedule, the Lakers have won three straight SUNYAC games in seven days. Oswego State’s lone remaining SUNYAC game is Saturday against SUNY Oneonta (8-8, 3-4 SUNYAC). If the Lakers defeat the Red Dragons, they lock up at least the No. 5 seed, but a loss on Saturday eliminates them from the postseason.
The build up of the game reminds Bateman of her senior day for the women’s soccer team against SUNY Cortland.
“Cortland is a team that we hadn’t beat in like 22 years, and it was such a huge game for us, like this one is,” Bateman said. “We ended up winning in overtime against Cortland, and I honestly think that we can beat this Oneonta team, it just depends on if we show up to play and execute our offense.”
Geneseo (10-4, 4-3 SUNYAC) has won five consecutive games, including four straight in conference, but Oswego State owns the tiebreaker between them. The Lakers defeated the Blue Knights in Oswego on April 4 in overtime, 13-12. The Blue Knights have a favorable matchup on Saturday, traveling to New Paltz to take on the last-place Hawks.