“I think that in the first four games against the ACC teams, we had specific units play well in specific games,” head coach Stephy Samaras Mantziaras said. “So I think it’s great that our offensive unit and our defensive unit were able to find some cohesion in the games. I’m hoping that’s what we take into some of the upcoming games.”
The Spiders fell to the University of Maryland 18-7, the University of North Carolina 14-8, Duke University 20-12 and the University of Virginia 23-12.
All four teams are in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which boasts the highest ranked teams of all the conferences in the United States.
Junior co-captain and defending A-10 Player of the Year Mary Flowers led the team in every category. She said she had mixed emotions about starting the season off with such challenging games.
“A lot of people thrive off it and they think it’s going to prepare us — which it does,” she said. “But it’s kind of a confidence killer to start off with four teams in the top 10.”
Flowers said she thought the Spiders had different strategy issues depending on the game.
“Versus UNC, our defense played amazing,” she said. “And then against UVA, it was awful. There was no communication. It just wasn’t there.”
Junior goalie Victoria Roebuck led the defense from the net through all four games, recording upwards of 10 saves in most games.
“I don’t think it was our skill level that was any different from these teams,” Roebuck said. “It was just the pace. We really learned that you have to play the whole 60 minutes. You can’t take any breaks, especially against teams like this.”
Mantziaras said the women looked at scouting reports in preparation for each game.
“We were able to take away some of the other teams’ strengths,” she said. “But I think when you play against teams of that stature, they’re going to be able to expose strengths regardless, so it was more about maintaining and playing our game.”
Roebuck said she thought the greatest issue had been the players getting into their own heads once they fell behind.
“I think that in my position as a goalie, I just have to be sure to set myself apart from the team at some points,” she said, “because whether we’re winning or losing, if I let myself get down, then there’s really no coming back.”
Sophomore Sam Stevenson said she was optimistic about the rest of the season.
“I really just want to beat every single team that we play,” she said. “I give 150 percent every game. … I thrive on making my teammates have success in completing plays.”
The Maryland and Virginia games marked the first times the women’s lacrosse team had played in Robins Stadium since moving back on campus from its usual home field, First Market Stadium, off campus.
“I don’t even think words can describe it,” Mantziaras said. “Our immediate department within the athletic department has made playing in the Robins Stadium probably one of the best experiences some of our players will ever have.”
The Spiders faced number one-ranked Maryland Feb. 13 in Robins Stadium. Maryland won 18-7 after taking an early lead of 9-0 in the first half.
Mary Flowers, junior co-captain, shot the first goal of the season and finished the game as the team’s leading scorer with three goals and one assist.
The Spiders gained momentum toward the end of the first half, bringing the score to 11-4 and continued to build with senior Danielle Schaevitz scoring the last Richmond goal of the game. Maryland broadened the 12-7 lead by six straight goals before the end of the game, demonstrating its top national ranking.
Junior goalie Victoria Roebuck said the Maryland game had been the toughest of the four.
“Maryland was the worst,” she said, “because of the variety of shots they had from so many players shooting and scoring.”
Richmond lost 20-12 to fourth-ranked Duke Feb. 18 after ending the first half 9-4. The Blue Devils rose above the Spiders throughout the game, broadening the early score of 2-1 with seven straight goals and some quick scores in the beginning of the first half.
The Spiders maintained a variety of plays, however, and recorded goals from seven different players.
Sophomore Sam Stevenson led the Spiders with four goals and senior Danielle Schaevitz recorded three.
The Spiders also had a game-high 23 ground balls, but fell behind 24-10 on draw controls.
“That’s actually one of our positions that we need to work on,” Stevenson said, “because they had a majority of the draws. That’s a key factor of the game because you can get a goal right off the draw.”
Richmond closed the game strong, scoring six of the game’s last seven goals.
The Spiders lost 14-8 to third-ranked University of North Carolina last Sunday, but at one point held the game to within 7-5.
Head coach Stephy Samaras Mantziaras said the UNC game had been the team’s best match up.
“We were in a dogfight with them for about 45 minutes of the game,” she said. “We were connecting the ball from one play to the next. I think that North Carolina had some maturity that we didn’t have, which was one of the reasons why they were able to come away with the win.”
Junior attacker Mary Flowers had a hat trick and sophomore Kara Moschetti had two goals.
Flowers said UNC had been the most frustrating game.
“They just caught us off guard,” she said. “Our scouting reports and everything were very accurate. I don’t know what happened. We just didn’t prepare well enough.”
UNC senior Corey Donohoe solidified the Tar Heels win with four goals against Roebuck, who made 11 saves.
Richmond lost 23-12 to fifth-ranked University of Virginia Wednesday in Robins Stadium.
Virginia scored the game’s first three goals in the opening three minutes before the Spiders could get their bearings.
The Spiders answered the first three goals with shots by sophomores Kara Moschetti and Sam Stevenson and another free position goal by senior Danielle Schaevitz, but Virginia followed with five unanswered goals and reached a 17-6 lead by halftime.
Head coach Stephy Samaras Mantziaras said the girls definitely played a second half game against Virginia.
“Once you dig such a big hole,” Stevenson said, “it’s hard to realistically see yourself getting out of that hole.
Schaevitz and Stevenson had four goals each and Roebuck recorded nine saves in goal.
Virginia players Josie Owen and Julie Gardner each contributed three goals for the Cavaliers, but the Spiders finished the game strong with two more goals.
Mantziaras said they had had higher expectations for the Virginia game than the results showed.
“We went into the game thinking it was going to be a lot closer than the game actually showed,” she said. “And if you can look at the last 40 minutes of the game, it was a really close game. I think we made some really big strides.”