The Ashland University lacrosse team played its first match in program history in front of a large crowd at Ferguson Field on Saturday (Feb. 23) afternoon, falling to Notre Dame College, 18-11.
The game was nearly 18 months in the making with the official announcement of adding lacrosse being made Sept. 8, 2017.
The Eagles fell behind by seven goals in the first 10 minutes of the game, but after that recovered nicely and were able to stay in the game.
"For our first game ever, not bad," said head coach Shaun Williamson. "The biggest thing for us is that we continued to fight and crawl our way back into the game."
Junior midfielder Sofia Michael broke the ice for the Eagles, scoring the first goal in program history with a nice individual finish around the goalie with 16:24 to play in the first half. Junior Renee Ruppert served in the pass from the right wing for the assist.
"For a first game, honestly I couldn't be prouder," Michael said. "We have a lot of girls who are new, it's a first game and there's a lot of nerves, everyone's excited. I'm extremely proud of my teammates."
Michael, who finished with six goals in the game, added a second with 7:57 left before the Falcons took a 10-2 lead into halftime.
"We had two scrimmages and the things we were doing in the first 10 minutes were not things we've done in our scrimmages – mistakes we haven't made," Williamson said. "They fought hard, cleaned some things up and learned some things."
Ruppert cut the deficit down to 11-4 with 26:04 to play before Michael scored her fourth goal with 22:52 left to make it 13-5.
Senior Haley Abraszek got on the board with 17:16 remaining, but Notre Dame tacked on the next two to make it 17-6.
The Eagles then scored four straight, including goals from sophomore Leah Brickman, Michael, Abraszek and Ruppert, to cut the margin down to 17-10. Michael capped the scoring with a great individual effort off the draw with 2:27 remaining.
"I think that if we had 10 more minutes to play, we would have continued to make it a tighter ballgame and who knows what would have happened," Williamson said. "All in all, for the first time out, I can't complain much."
The Eagles maintained a 21-10 lead in draw controls, led by Michaels' 14.
"Sofia Michael is an absolute beast of a player and we're lucky to have her," said Williamson. "We controlled the draws and as the season goes along that's going to be huge for us as we get better offensively."
The Eagles held a 34-29 lead in shots and Notre Dame led in ground balls, 29-25. Freshman netminder Corynn Schneider recorded five saves.
Leslie Diaz led the Falcons with six goals.
The Eagles will now have an extended break before returning to the field on March 5 at Shorter (Ga.).