Jonathan Swann – Almost halfway through conference play, the women’s lacrosse team is hoping for a few more solid A-10 wins to make the A-10 tournament in Philadelphia. Ten A-10 schools play lacrosse, and the top six qualify for the A-10 tournament. Last year, the Wildcats qualified for the tournament as a #5 seed with a 5-4 record in conference play. Currently sitting in sixth place with a conference record of 2-2, the Wildcats have to be on the top of their game the remainder of the season to stay in contention for a bid.
The Wildcats opened the season with a loss against Virginia Tech, and then played the English National Team in an exhibition game. Overall, the team has a record of 4-7. Head Coach Kim Wayne says of the season so far, “This year has been an up and down year with a few strong wins (beating William and Mary and George Washington) and a few tough losses losing to Campbell and Winthrop.” She also says that the team has had to deal with some unexpected injuries early in the season.
However, Wayne emphasizes that the team is “playing our best lacrosse right now so if we can stay healthy I know this team will do great things.” Over the weekend, the team lost to UMass but routed St. Bonaventure 13-1. UMass is the perennial champion in the A-10 and by defeating the Wildcats, the Minutewomen won their NCAA-record 48th consecutive regular-season league game. In the St. Bonaventure game on Sunday, Nicole Pettiglio ’17 had seven points, with six goals, both tying her career-high, while Christine Molinari ’18 had 4 assists. Shayne Antolini ’20 added two goals and an assist as the Wildcats led 7-0 at halftime and never looked back.
Leading the way for the Wildcats are co-captains Pettiglio and Annie Brockett ’17. Pettiglio has 20 goals on the season while Brockett has 30, giving Brockett 82 in her Davidson career and placing her just outside top 10 in Davidson program history. Pettiglio is eager to enter the Davidson record books too, with over 60 goals in her career so far. With Pettiglio and Brockett as the co-captains, they are the leaders on the team and push their teammates to do their best. Pettiglio says, “We try our best to lead by example in hopes that our teammates will follow suit. We trust them to hold themselves accountable and to listen to our constant constructive criticism.”
Molinari and Thielemann ’18 are key players on the team as well, with 27 points and 16 points on the season, respectively. Rose Woolson ’18 is a strong presence in goal, having won A-10 All-Second Team honors last season and leading the league with a 52.1% save percentage. This season, she is in 2nd place in the A-10 with a 48% save percentage and 4th in saves with 9.73. Rachel Hianik ’18 and Mackenzie Savilli ’18 support Woolson on defense. Because of the strong defensive effort, the team ranks 3rd in the A-10 in goals against average (GAA) with 10.55.
Wayne highlights the big impact that the freshmen have made so far this season, and says they have helped the team tremendously. Six starters graduated last year, but the freshmen have stepped up capably in their place. Pettiglio notes that despite being a young team and having the smallest roster size in her Davidson career, the Wildcats are effective at “being able to adapt in the moment to what other teams are challenging us with and make changes on the fly.” Wayne says that six freshmen have received significant amount of playing time and have contributed in each game both on attack and defense.
The most promising first-years look to be Shayne Antolini, Genna Portner, and Claudia Becker. Antolini has started every game and has the 4th most points on the team. Portner, with 10 goals scored, is behind only Pettiglio and Brockett. Becker, a defender, has also started every game. In December, Wayne announced the addition of seven high school seniors to the Class of 2021 that look to be every bit as a good as this year’s first-year class.
There are five games left for the Wildcats to play before the A-10 tournament on May 4th through 7th. The team plays Duquesne on April 15th and George Mason on April 29th at home, and will travel to play VCU, Richmond, and La Salle. Pettiglio says that the team has “already been improving tremendously throughout the beginning of the season and I’m excited to see how much we continue to improve through A10 play.” With a potential A-10 tournament bid on the line, the Wildcats know every game counts and are ready to make their mark.