SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) women's lacrosse team fought hard, but ultimately fell to the Elms College (EC) Blazers, 14-4, in the Blue Jays' 2019 season opener on Thursday evening at Golden Bear Stadium on the campus of Western New England University (WNEU). The match was originally scheduled to be played Wednesday at Elms but was moved to Thursday night at WNEU due to weather and playing surface conditions.
Elms raced out to early, 4-0, lead and never looked back en route to the 14-4 victory. Four different players scored for the Blazers over the opening 5:14 of play to build the advantage. EC's junior midfielder Haley Richard (Monson, Mass.) scored the opening goal and then assisted on the third to fuel the early run.
Freshman attack Taya Valdez (East Lyme, Conn.) stopped the run and scored the first goal of the 2019 season for the Blue Jays with 24:20 left in the first half to bring the score to 4-1. The unassisted goal marks the first of Valdez's career.
The Blazers responded with five unanswered goals to take a commanding, 9-1, lead to put the game out of reach with 13:34 left in the opening period. Richard once again led the charge for Elms with three goals during the run.
Junior Charlotte Eberhardt (Thomaston, Conn.), who led the Blue Jays with 30 points last season, followed by finding the back of the net on a free position shot with 10:05 remaining to get the Blue Jays back on the board and trim the deficit to 9-2. However, the Blazers closed the half with four more goals to take a 13-2 advantage heading into the break.
The Blue Jays regrouped following the intermission and would win the second half outscoring the Blazers 2-1 over the final 30 minutes of action. Freshman Jenna Banta (Montville, Conn.) got things started netting her first career goal on a free position shot with 25:18 left in regulation to make it 13-3.
Richard tacked on her fifth goal of the evening to push the Blazers' lead back to 11 (14-3) before Valdez found the back of the net for USJ with 11:30 to play for her second marker of the match to conclude the scoring and account for the 14-4 final.
Sophomore netminder Emily Huber (Jefferson, Maine) picked up the win between the pipes for the Blazers turning away five of the Blue Jays' nine shots on goal to improve to 1-0 on the season. Freshman Silvana Barcomb (Middletown, Conn.) was dealt the loss in her first career game in goal for USJ. She finished with five saves.
USJ held slight advantages in draw controls, 11-9, and ground balls, 8-7, but was outshot, 22-18, in the season opener. Banta finished with a team-high six shots and added two ground balls, two draw controls, and a caused turnover for USJ in the setback.
The USJ women's lacrosse team will be back in action next on Wednesday, March 6 when they travel to Becker College. The opening faceoff between the Blue Jays and Hawks is slated for 4:00 p.m. on Alumni Field in Leicester, Mass.