The freshman on the University of Richmond women's lacrosse team haven't had the ideal start to their college careers, but after a 17-15 victory against St. Bonaventure University during the first game of Atlantic-10 conference play, they finally have something to celebrate.
The Spiders, led by four goals from freshman Caitlin Fifield and three goals each from seniors Mandy Friend and Alli Furstenburg, held the Bonnies to only three goals during the final 19 minutes of play to secure the win.
"The freshmen haven't experienced how good it feels to win," said Friend, a three-time All American. "It was important for us [older players] to give it to them."
Last week, head coach Sue Murphy resigned after athletics department officials discovered she was operating an outside fund to help pay for team expenses. Peter Albright, head coach of the women's soccer team, was named as interim head coach and earned his first win.
"It feels great," Albright said. "This was a really hard game because of all the pressure we put on ourselves."
Though Albright serves as head coach, he didn't really take over the team. Assistant coach Alli Nuzzi, a 2006 graduate of Richmond, handles "99 percent" of the coaching decisions, Albright said.
After the game, Nuzzi said she was excited to get the team's first win, especially in conference play.
"It's huge," she said, "The first win is always the hardest win."
Though the Spiders were winless through non-conference play, Nuzzi said that did not lower their expectations of a first place finish in the A-10.
"We're the hunted," Nuzzi said. "We're projected to finish first in the conference so those other [A-10] teams that think we are down are going to come even harder."
Friend said that she was amazed at how well Nuzzi was handling the coaching responsibilities since Murphy's departure.
"I don't know how she does it," Friend said of her coach and former teammate. "A typical sideline has three, maybe four coaches. She does it all by herself."
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In a game the featured eight ties and three lead changes, the Spiders benefitted from a more efficient second half offense and never let the Bonnies lead grow too large. Richmond outshot St. Bonaventure 38-37 for the game.
"We were a little more poised on attack in the second half," Nuzzi said. "We did a good job taking care of the ball."
Junior goalkeeper Erica Marrocco started the game for Richmond, but was replaced by freshman Victoria Roebuck with 25 minutes remaining in the second half. Roebuck allowed only five goals for the rest of the game. The two goalkeepers combined to make 14 saves.
Eight different players scored for Richmond during the game, including two goals each from sophomore Anne Ryan and freshman Mary Flowers. Roebuck and sophomore defender Bria Eulitt were two of the game's unsung heroes, Albright said.
Fifield's four goals also impressed her new head coach.
"Fifield is stepping up as a really top player down the road," Albright said.
An estimated crowd of 314, many of whom were Richmond student-athletes, helped encourage the struggling Spiders, who were happy to see such strong support, Nuzzi said.
"Being home was huge," she said. "Fan support was so helpful with keeping energy."
Richmond will continue Atlantic-10 conference play at home on Sunday at noon against Duquesne University, but for now they will take some time to savor the season's first win.
"It's been a brutal baptism," Albright said of the season, "so this is good for the girls. I really want to make sure they have a chance to enjoy this [win]."
Contact staff writer Reilly Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org
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