By Jake Crouse, Copy Editor
The women’s lacrosse team was picked fourth in the Atlantic Sun preseason polls this week, but started with a loss to the out-of-conference Vanderbilt Commodores.
Furman went neck-and-neck with Vanderbilt through the first 20 minutes of play, scoring four shots on four attempts to tie the game at four. However, the Commodore offense ended the first half on fire, scoring five shots in the final six minutes to end the period with a 9-4 advantage. Three of those five shots were earned by midfielder Kelly Chandler, who put up five goals on the Furman defense in the first half.
The Paladins could not regain any momentum in the second half, falling 7-3 in the half and yielding a final score of 16-7. However, Furman still fought for every shot as evidenced by sophomore midfielder Gaby Susz scoring with one second left in regulation. Junior attacker Ashley Trice and sophomore attacker Meg Lingo led the Furman offense with two goals each, and freshman goalie Courtney Baker saved 38.5 percent of shots on goal.
The loss comes shortly after preseason accolades came out for the Paladins. In addition to the fourth place ranking, Furman landed two players on the Atlantic Sun All-Conference preseason team. Attacker Paige Gamble and defender Samantha Eckels, both juniors, represent the Paladins on the team, and Gamble also received 624 Facebook votes to be named Atlantic Sun Fan-Voted Player of the Year.
Women’s lacrosse is in its second year as a varsity sport at Furman. The program finished its inaugural season with a 10-7 overall record (4-3 Atlantic Sun) and made it to the semifinals of the Atlantic Sun tournament. Furman recruited six freshmen to this year’s class, including starting goalie Baker.
A year prior, the Paladins recruited a large class that played scrimmages and practices in preparation for its inaugural season.
Head coach Rachel Whitten has led the program since its inception in 2012. Whitten served six seasons on the coaching staff at the University of Denver, a nationally renowned lacrosse program. She is joined by associate head coach Amber Falcone McKenzie and assistant coach Gabi Wiegand, both of whom have been with Furman women’s lacrosse since its creation.