March 23, 2018
The Game: Vanderbilt Lacrosse at Butler
The Time: Sunday, March 25 at 1 p.m. CT (Delayed from 11 a.m. due to weather)
The Place: Varsity Field, Indianapolis, Ind.
The Broadcast: Facebook Live broadcast available at Facebook.com/ButlerBulldogs
Vanderbilt fell a goal short of a major upset last Sunday, dropping the BIG EAST Conference opener 11-10 vs. No. 6 Florida at home.
The Commodores (5-3, 0-1 BIG EAST) hit the road in search of their first conference win of the season this Sunday against the Butler Bulldogs (1-8, 0-1 BIG EAST), looking to build off a strong showing against the league’s defending champions.
“You always wonder how you’re going to compete against some of the best,” Vanderbilt head coach Cathy Swezey said. “When you have that chance, and you actually do compete, I think it makes a huge difference.”
Vanderbilt defender Melissa Hawkins was named BIG EAST Freshman of the Week on Tuesday for her performance against the Gators, holding Tewaaraton Award finalist Sydney Pirreca to just one point on the afternoon. Hawkins’ effort helped the Commodore back line hold Florida to a season-low 11 goals.
“I thought our intensity was great,” Swezey said. “I thought our defense played exceptionally well.”
Swezey’s team has now held four-straight opponents to 12 goals or fewer, while continuing to lead the nation with 36.5 shots per game. The 21st-year head coach hopes those successes will yield a conference win.
“We need to get the ball rolling,” Swezey said. “We really want to be playing in the BIG EAST Tournament this year. To be able to start that off, hopefully on Sunday against Butler, would be great.”
Opening draw between Vanderbilt and Butler is now at 1 p.m. CT Sunday in Indianapolis due to weather. Butler will provide a Facebook Live video stream at Facebook.com/ButlerBulldogs.
This is the second meeting in series history between Vanderbilt and Butler, and Vanderbilt’s first-ever visit to Varsity Field in Indianapolis. The Commodores defeated the Bulldogs, 22-4, last season in the first-ever program meeting on March 25, 2017, in Nashville. Kayla Peterson scored seven goals in the VU win.
Framing the Butler
The Bulldogs enter Sunday’s game with a 1-8 overall record, and a 0-1 BIG EAST record. Butler lost its conference opener at home vs. Connecticut on Sunday, by the final score of 22-5. Freshman Ashley Guerra leads the team with 16 goals, seven assists and 23 points.
Vanderbilt has been represented on the BIG EAST Weekly Awards in all six editions of this season’s conference honors. Detailed recaps of each honoree’s performances can be found in the notes below.
Vanderbilt’s 2018 BIG EAST Weekly Award Winners:
- Week 6: Melissa Hawkins, BIG EAST Freshman of the Week
- Week 5: Emily Mathewson, BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll
- Week 4: Kayla Peterson, BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll
- Week 3: Julie Blaze, BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll
- Week 2: Gabrielle Fornia, BIG EAST Freshman of the Week
- Week 1: Julie Blaze, BIG EAST Midfielder of the Week
Hawk on Lock
Vanderbilt defender Melissa Hawkins was named BIG EAST Freshman of the Week on Tuesday for her efforts in the 11-10 loss to No. 6 Florida on March 18. Hawkins, who started VU’s first seven games as a defensive midfielder, lined up as a defender for the first time as a collegiate player, and held All-BIG EAST Midfielder and Tewaaraton Award finalist Sydney Pirreca to one goal and no assists in the game. With the award, Hawkins and freshman attacker Gabrielle Fornia become the first Commodore duo to win conference freshman of the week honors in the same season since 2011, when Alyssa Dunlap and Brandi Byner each received an American Lacrosse Conference Freshman of the Week nod.
Approaching a Milestone
Vanderbilt senior attacker Kayla Peterson is two points away from her 100th career point. The senior from Hagerstown, Md. has scored 82 goals along with 16 assists in her Commodore career, and is one goal shy of tying her single-season career-high with 30.
Leading the Nation
Vanderbilt’s offense is tied for first nationally with 36.5 shots per game and second nationally with 27.5 shots on goal per game, trailing Maryland’s 27.88 shots on goals per game. The Dores are also third nationally with 23.75 ground balls per game and fourth nationally with 11.75 caused turnovers per game.
Beasts of the BIG EAST
Vanderbilt leads the BIG EAST Conference in five major team categories (NCAA rankings in parentheses):
- Scoring Offense: 15.5 Goals per Game (10th nationally)
- Shots per Game: 36.5 (tied for first nationally)
- Shots on Goal per Game: 27.5 (second nationally)
- Scoring Margin: +4.38 Goals per Game (16thnationally)
- Caused Turnovers per Game: 11.75 (fourth nationally)
Sophomore attacker Emily Mathewson was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll for Week 5 on Tuesday after scoring eight goals in two games last week in her hometown of Philadelphia. The Garnet Valley High School product posted a pair of four-goal games against La Salle and St. Joseph’s, including the game-winning goal in overtime vs. the Explorers on March 8. In three collegiate games in Philadelphia, Mathewson has now scored 13 goals and 16 points, dating back to her five-goal, three-assist performance in a 14-12 win over Villanova on March 18, 2017, which earned her BIG EAST Freshman of the Week honors.
Despite leading for just five out of 65 minutes in the game, Vanderbilt topped La Salle 11-10 in overtime, on March 8 in Philadelphia. The Dores held the Explorers scoreless for the final 17 minutes and 38 seconds of play after Rachel Ceplo’s goal put La Salle ahead 10-8 with 13:11 left in regulation. VU scored the last three goals to earn the walk-off win in overtime.
Bucking the Trend
Vanderbilt’s 11-10 overtime win at La Salle on March 8 ended a six-game losing streak in one-goal games, dating back to the 2016 season. Vanderbilt’s last one-goal win was against Elon on February 28, 2016, and the 2017 Commodores were 0-3 in one-goal games. The win was also VU’s first overtime game since April 8, 2015, and the Dores’ first overtime win since March 29, 2014, a 12-11 win over Johns Hopkins.
Rewriting the Record Book
Senior attacker Kayla Peterson tied the Vanderbilt record for goals in a game on February 27, when she scored eight times in a 17-15 loss to Louisville, and was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll on Tuesday. Peterson matched Sue Napolitano’s record, set on March 25, 1996, against Virginia Tech in Vanderbilt’s first year of Division I lacrosse. Peterson was born 182 days later, on September 23, 1996. Peterson’s performance is the first eight-goal game in Cathy Swezey’s 21 years as Vanderbilt’s head coach, dating back to the 1998 season.
Blaze Earns Another BIG EAST Honor
Junior midfielder Julie Blaze was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll for Week 3 of the 2018 season on February 27 after her five-point game against Furman on February 24. The award marks Blaze’s second career appearance on the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll and her third conference honor of the season. Blaze was named BIG EAST Midfielder of the Week for Week 1 on February 13 and was Vanderbilt’s lone representative on the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team, as named by the league’s coaches in January. Vanderbilt has had a player named on all three editions of the BIG EAST Weekly Awards this season.
Back on the Ballot
Vanderbilt was one of eight teams receiving votes in the Inside Lacrosse Media Poll that debuted on Monday, February 26 (Week 3). This was Vanderbilt’s first inclusion in the poll since April 2012, when the Commodores were ranked 19th in the final week of the regular season.
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 on February 20. Fornia was named the BIG EAST Freshman of the Week for Week 2 of the season after her two-goal, two-assist performance in the Dores’ 22-12 win over Fresno State on February 19. Fornia’s two goals were her first as a collegiate player.
Mathewson’s Career Day
Sophomore attacker Emily Mathewson led the Commodore charge in Vandy’s 22-12 win at Fresno State on February 19, 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 a very on-target game for Vanderbilt’s shooters, as 37 of the team’s 39 shots were on goal.
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 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.
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)
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 Carolina–currently a D-1 independent–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 head women’s lacrosse coach before the 1998 season. Her overall record as Vanderbilt’s head coach is 160-174, including six NCAA Tournament appearances and a Final Four berth in 2004. Swezey was named the InsideLacrosse.com National Coach of the Year in 2002.
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
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.