Lacrosse hosts home opener Saturday afternoon

Feb. 23, 2018

The Game: Vanderbilt vs. Furman
The Time: Saturday, February 23 at 1 p.m. CT
The Place: VU Soccer/Lacrosse Complex, Nashville, TN
The Broadcast: Facebook Live broadcast online at

Vanderbilt lacrosse already owns a win in Georgia and a win in California. On Saturday, the Dores get their first shot at a victory on their home field. Vanderbilt (2-0, 0-0 BIG EAST) hosts Furman (1-2, 0-0 SoCon) Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. in the team’s home opener.

The Commodores have found their scoring touch in two early-season wins, entering the weekend tied with Syracuse for the most goals per game (20.0 GPG) nationwide.

In addition to leading the NCAA in scoring, the Commodores are second nationally with 32.5 shots on goal per game and third in the country with 19 draw controls per game. In Monday’s 22-12 win over Fresno State, 37 of Vanderbilt’s 39 shot attempts were on goal.

“Our scoring is up because of the number of shots we’re taking, that’s something we’re really excited about,” Vanderbilt head coach Cathy Swezey said. “We do a lot of work on shooting, and it’s probably an improvement I’ve made as a coach over the years; not assuming they’re doing it on their own and getting it more involved in practice. I think it’s really made a difference.”

Sophomore attacker Emily Mathewson scored a career-high six goals against Fresno State and leads the team with 10 goals through two games. Mathewson is tied for third in the country with five goals per game, and senior attacker Kayla Peterson is tied for eighth nationally with 4.50 goals per game, just one goal behind Mathewson for the team lead.

“We have had a lot of years where our midfielders were people we had to look for to score,” Swezey said. “Right now, we have line attackers that are doing the scoring, and that is really how it should be. We want our middies to contribute, but we want our line attackers to carry them, and I think that we’re doing that.”

Vanderbilt’s newest starting attacker is off to a hot start. Gabrielle Fornia was named the BIG EAST Freshman of the Week after her four-point performance against Fresno State, including her first two collegiate goals. Fornia leads the Commodores with five assists on the season.

“She’s so athletic. Her first step is so fast, her release point from her shot is outstanding,” Swezey said of her first-year scorer. “When she got her first collegiate goal the other day, that was a big thing [for her].”

Saturday’s contest begins a three-game homestand for the Commodores, who will host Louisville on Tuesday, February 27 at 3 p.m. and William & Mary on Monday, March 5 at 1 p.m. Admission to all Vanderbilt home games is free. All three games will be streamed live at

Series History
This is the third meeting between Vanderbilt and Furman in lacrosse, with the Commodores leading the series 2-0. Vanderbilt won the first-ever meeting 16-7 in Nashville in 2016, and the Dores went on the road for an 18-8 win over the Paladins last season.

Scouting the Paladins
Furman comes to Nashville with a 1-2 overall record, with a win over Presbyterian and losses to High Point and Davidson. Sophie Brennan and Britt Douglass are tied for the team lead with five goals each. Maggie Friel has started all three games in goal for the Paladins.

Leading the Nation
Vanderbilt enters the weekend tied for first nationally in goals per game. The Commodores and Syracuse share the top spot with 20 goals per game. In addition to leading the NCAA in scoring, the Commodores are second nationally with 32.5 shots on goal per game and third in the country with 19 draw controls per game.

Fornia Earns BIG EAST Freshman of the Week Honor
Vanderbilt freshman attacker Gabrielle Fornia became the team’s second player in as many weeks to be honored by the BIG EAST. Fornia was named the BIG EAST Freshman of the Week for her two-goal, two-assist performance in the Dores’ 22-12 win over Fresno State on Monday. Fornia’s two goals were her first as a collegiate player, and her pair of assists added to her team-high total of five helpers through two games.

Mathewson’s Career Day
Sophomore attacker Emily Mathewson led the Commodore charge against Fresno State, scoring a career-high six goals in the win and surpassing her previous mark of five, set against Villanova on March 17, 2017. The sophomore led the way in an extremely on-target game for Vanderbilt’s shooters, as 37 of the team’s 39 shots were on goal. Mathewson is currently tied for third in the country with five goals per game.

Clean Slate
Vanderbilt’s defense locked down in impressive fashion during the first half of Monday’s 22-12 win over Fresno State. The Commodores dominated the last 15 minutes of the period, holding the Bulldogs scoreless for the final 16 minutes and 22 seconds and scoring the last seven goals of the half. Vanderbilt’s shutout streak carried into the second half, lasting 18:59 in total and starting a stretch where the Dores allowed just one goal over a 26 minute and six second span. VU went from down 5-3 to ahead 14-6 in that sequence.

Blaze Named BIG EAST Midfielder of the Week
On February 13, junior midfielder Julie Blaze was named the BIG EAST Midfielder of the Week for her Week 1 performance. Blaze scored six points (four goals, two assists) in Vanderbilt’s 18-14 win over Kennesaw State on Sunday, February 18. She filled up the stat sheet by claiming four draw controls and three ground balls in the tight road win. This was Blaze’s first career Midfielder of the Week award, adding to her honors of 2018 Preseason All-BIG EAST, 2017 first-team All-BIG EAST and one BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll in Week 1 of the 2017 season.

Peterson’s Big Day
Senior attacker Kayla Peterson scored five goals against Kennesaw State, finishing just one goal below her career-high of six goals, coming on February 26, 2017 in an 18-8 win at Furman. Four of Peterson’s five goals came in the first half, including three in the first 11 minutes as the Commodores jumped out to a 6-1 lead that they would never relinquish. Her lone second half goal put the game out of reach with 1:25 remaining. Peterson also posted a game-high nine shots and six draw controls in the win.

Preseason Pick
The Big East coaches picked Vanderbilt to finish sixth in the conference’s preseason poll, tied with Marquette for the sixth spot in the 10-team league. Midfielder Julie Blaze was named to the Preseason All-BIG EAST team.
BIG EAST Women’s Lacrosse Preseason Coaches’ Poll:
1. Florida (9 first place votes)
2. Denver (1)
3. Georgetown
4. Temple
5. Connecticut
t-6. Vanderbilt
t-6. Marquette
8. Villanova
9. Cincinnati
10. Butler

Vanderbilt Lacrosse Joining American Athletic Conference in 2019
The Vanderbilt lacrosse program announced in October that it will join the American Athletic Conference as an affiliate member for the league’s inaugural season of women’s lacrosse in 2019. Current BIG EAST members Cincinnati, Connecticut, Florida and Temple will make the move with Vanderbilt, joining East Carolinaâ€â€currently a D-1 independentâ€â€to comprise the six team league.
Vanderbilt Lacrosse historic conference affiliation:
2019-: American Athletic Conference
2015-2018 (4 seasons): Big East Conference
2002-2014 (13 seasons): American Lacrosse Conference (founding member)
1996-2001 (6 seasons): No conference affiliation

Coach Cathy Swezey
Head coach Cathy Swezey is in her 21st season leading the Commodores. Swezey was hired as Vanderbilt’s second-ever women’s lacrosse head coach before the 1998 season. Her overall record as Vanderbilt’s head coach is 157-171, including six NCAA Tournament appearances and a national semifinals berth in 2004.

Set the Field A-Blaze
Junior Julie Blaze led Vanderbilt with 33 goals as a sophomore in 2017, becoming the first sophomore to lead the Commodores in goals since April Tellam, who scored 42 goals in 1999. Blaze also finished the year second on the team in points (38), fourth in caused turnovers (12) and draw controls (22) and fifth in ground balls (18), earning first-team All-BIG EAST honors.

Back in Black (And Gold)
The 2018 Commodores return 65% of the team’s goal scoring from last season, with just 62 out of 177 goals graduating from the program.
2017 Vanderbilt Goal Leaders (BOLD = Returning)
1. Julie Blaze, 33 goals
2. Jill Doherty, 31 goals
3. Kayla Peterson, 30 goals
4. Emily Mathewson, 17 goals

T-5. Caroline Peters, 16 goals
T-5. Melanie Becker, 16 goals
6. MacKenzie Lange, 13 goals

New Faces In Goal
Vanderbilt enters the 2018 season with a tandem of sophomore goalies. Redshirt sophomore Lily Argyle and true sophomore Madison Foglio with take over for graduated senior Callahan Kent. Both players saw their first collegiate action in 2017, with Argyle making three starts and seven appearances (1-1-0 record, 13.13 GAA, .395 save percentage) and Foglio making three starts and six appearances (1-2-0 record, 11.19 GAA, and .333 save percentage). The duo will combine to succeed three-year starter Callahan Kent, who posted a career record of 12-19-0 in 34 games during her Commodore career.

Single Digits
In 2017, the Dores were 5-0 when holding their opponent under 10 goals in a game and were just 1-9 when allowing 10 or more goals. Vanderbilt’s lone win when allowing double digit goals was a 14-12 win at Villanova on March 18, 2017.

The 90-Second Effect
In the first season of play using the NCAA-mandated 90-second possession clock, Vanderbilt attempted 30.5 shots per game while holding opponents to just 27.4 shots per game. That total gave the Commodores their highest shots per game total since the 2010 season and marked the first time Vanderbilt outshot its opponents since 2013.

Close Calls
Vanderbilt lost all three one-goal games it played in 2017 and has lost six straight one-goal games dating back to the 2016 season. The Commodores’ last one-goal win was against Elon on February 28, 2016. Vanderbilt has not played an overtime game since April 8, 2015, a 10-9 double overtime home loss against Connecticut.