NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Sophomore Bri Gross buried the game-winner with just more than three minutes remaining to lead Vanderbilt lacrosse to a 14-13 win over No. 10 Denver for the program’s first top-10 win in six years Sunday afternoon at the Vanderbilt Soccer/Lacrosse Complex.
Vanderbilt, which trailed by four midway through the second half, improved to 4-2 this season with its first victory over a top-10 team since March 29, 2014 against No. 9 Johns Hopkins.
“Down by four was not a great situation but we’d been there before and we knew what we had to do,” Vanderbilt head coach Beth Hewitt said. “In the huddle, everyone was really positive and feeling that we got this. As coaches we are trying to build up their confidence and we believe in them a lot — and we keep telling them we believe in them — and sometimes you just need a win like this to have them believe in themselves.”
Sophie Furlong paced Vanderbilt with four goals and Gross added a hat trick to power the Commodore offense. Gwyn Devin, Emily Mathewson and Maddie Souza all contributed two goals apiece. To keep the offense humming in a back-and-forth battle, Gross also added a trio of assists to her scoreline.
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There were four lead changes and six ties in the first half alone. Denver (4-1) scored the final goal of the opening 30 minutes to take an 8-7 lead into the intermission.
The Pioneers scored four of the first five goals of the second half for their largest advantage of the game 12-8 with 16:12 to go.
Vanderbilt responded with three straight goals from three different goal scorers — Mathewson, Furlong and Souza. When Gabby Fornia assisted Souza’s tally it pulled the Commodores within 12-11 with 11:57 to go.
Denver regained a two-goal advantage 13-11 with 5:53 remaining, but the Commodores held the Pioneers scoreless the rest of the way.
Fulong scored with 5:15 to make it a one-goal game and Devin tied it with 4:36 to play before Gross created some open space and netted the game-winner with 3:27 left.
Goalkeeper Paige Gunning made her 10th and final save with 2:41 left and Vanderbilt never gave up possession again.
The Dores offense was led by strong play at midfield thanks to Gross’ 11 draw controls. For the game, Vanderbilt notched 19 as opposed to Denver’s 11. The 19 draw controls were a season-high for the Commodores
Once again, the Commodores were quite efficient on clearances, going nearly perfect at 14-for-15 while Nicki Dadino paced the Dores with four ground balls.
On Wednesday, the Commodores will continue a six-game homestand at 1 p.m. when they welcome Michigan to the Vanderbilt Soccer/Lacrosse Complex.