Lacrosse seeks to build consistency as season comes to an end

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Morgan McGrath

Taylor Monturo (00) prepares to take a free position shot against Presbyterian College. Monday, March 22, 2021.

Jimmy Oswald Sports Reporter

One month ago the Kent State lacrosse team sat at 2-1 in Mid-American Conference play and was tied for second place. 

But since then, the Flashes went on to lose four of their next five MAC games and currently sit in fourth place with two games to go. 

“We’re still working on consistency,” coach Brianne Tierney said. “We need to start showing up in the best way possible. As a team we need to be more mature and do better with our fighting.”

In that span the Flashes suffered losses to Central Michigan University 21-14, Robert Morris University 23-4, the University of Akron 17-6 and Youngstown State University 23-20. Their lone win was 17-12 victory over the University of Detroit Mercy. 

This is the MAC’s first year with a women’s lacrosse league. Akron, Central Michigan and KSU are competing with affiliate members Youngstown State, Detroit Mercy and Robert Morris joining the conference only for women’s lacrosse. 

Tierney said that playing teams twice in a season has presented new challenges. 

“One week you beat a team by eight points, and the next week they come back with a win,” she said. “You have that confidence after the first win, but you have to know that they won’t just roll over.” 

Despite averaging the least goals per game in the MAC this season with 11, the Flashes have scored 17 and 20 in the last two games. 

“We’re capable of scoring goals,” Tierney said. “20 goals in one game is nothing to scoff at. Now we just need to control the ball better when we have possession. We have to work on controlling the tempo.” 

The Flashes are fifth in the MAC in draw controls per game with 12.23, but in the last five games they’ve only lost that category by more than five once. 

“The personnel we send out there is the key,” Tierney said. “It’s important to have players out there who have the energy to track the ball, and we have a lot of players who can go out there and win the battle.”

One force that Flashes missed during this recent rough patch was junior midfielder Madison Rapier, who missed three games because of injury. 

Rapier averages 2.9 goals and 3.5 draw controls per game, both team highs.

Tierney said Rapier is an all-around great player. 

“She reads defenders so well,” Tierney said. “And she sees those openings better than anyone. She tracks the ball perfectly and is awesome at the draw control. She’s going to continue to be so important for our future.” 

In Rapier’s first game back against YSU on Sunday, she scored three goals along with six draw controls.

Junior midfielder Abby Jones leads the team in goals with 32 this season. In Sunday’s game against the Penguins she had seven goals, tying a program record. 

Jones is also second on the team in draw controls with 27. 

“[Jones] is really starting to understand the strength and power she has,” Tierney said. “And she’s been way smarter at taking shots. She takes them from way better positions.” 

KSU’s defense has struggled, allowing its opponents to shoot an average of .506, the worst in the MAC.

Tierney said that her team needs to do a better job with allowing free position goals.

“YSU had 17 free position shots on Sunday,” she said. “We can’t have that. Our team has to play solid and disciplined. We need to stop fouling as often as we do. The ball needs to go back to our offense.” 

The Flashes’ goalie team of freshman Taylor Monturo, freshman Ella Gravitt and sophomore Madison Flannigan are allowing a MAC worst save percentage of .362 and a MAC worst goals allowed per game with 16.93.

Junior defender Graceyn Dean, who has only nine starts as a defender after starting her career as an attacker, has a program record 18 caused turnovers this season. She is second in ground balls on the team this season with 23. 

Tierney said Dean’s offensive experience is what makes her so dangerous.

“She can read an offense so nicely because of her time on offense,” Tierney said. “She can see and understand what the attackers are trying to do. Knocking down the ball and getting it go the other way is what she’s good at.”

The Flashes’ defense has been more effective at taking the ball away, causing 119 turnovers this season, third in the MAC.

The Flashes play at second-place CMU (6-6, 4-2 MAC) on Wednesday and then finish the season against 2-4 Detroit Mercy. 

Tierney said the team has not wavered. 

“It’s been a tough few weeks,” she said. “But they still have as much energy as they did at the beginning of the season. We want to get some revenge on CMU.” 

Jimmy Oswald is a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected]