WASHINGTON, DC – The University of the District of Columbia women's lacrosse team earned the 4th year program its first ever NCAA Division II victory as the Firebirds defeated Davis & Elkins College, 6-3 at Cooper Field on Sunday afternoon.
"It was a great team win today," 4th-year head coach Melynda Brown said. "It was a pretty sloppy game at times, but we capitalized on our opportunities and didn't allow our mistakes to get the best of us."
The Firebirds opened the season 1-0 for the 2nd year in a row, as UDC defeated Division III Hollins University in its season opener last year. Davis & Elkins, a 2nd year program that competes in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference, fell to 0-1 to start its season.
UDC featured three different goal scorers, including sophomore midfielder Vanessa Valentine with a game-high three goals, freshman midfielder Kianna Franklin with two goals, and senior midfielder Dominique Dotson with one goal. Also, sophomore midfielder Amy Rock had game-highs of three caused turnovers and seven ground balls and one goal assist, and junior midfielder Dagmawit Betru had one goal assist and four groundballs.
Freshman goalkeeper Jada Foy earned a complete game victory in her collegiate debut as she stopped five of eight shots faced.
Three different Senators scored one goal apiece, including reserve Desma Feather, midfielder Gabby Fagan, and attack Kathleen Shaw. Davis & Elkins' goalkeeper Lydia Eichhorst (0-1) stopped seven of 13 shots faced in a complete game effort.
Both teams started slow offensively in the first half, as the Senators and Firebirds combined for 31 turnovers in the opening period and each team took only eight shots. UDC capitalized on two of its shot attempts as Valentine opened the scoring for the game nearly four minutes in and Franklin ended a 24-minute scoring drought with a free-position shot goal with just over four minutes to play in the half. With under two minutes to play in the first half though, the Senators' Gabby Fagan beat Foy on a free-position shot to make it a 2-1 game heading into halftime.
Valentine wasted no time in pushing UDC's lead back to two goals as she scored an unassisted breakaway goal right off the draw control won by Franklin. She'd score her 3rd and final goal of the game four minutes later off of an assist by Betru, and the Firebirds were in front, 4-1 with 25:40 remaining.
A great feed by Grayson Blythe set up an open Kathleen Shaw right in front of the net, and Shaw finished for a Davis & Elkins man-up goal at the 21:25 mark to make the score, 4-2. UDC responded though with back-to-back goals by Dotson (assisted by Rock) at the 13:31 mark and Franklin at 9:57, and the Firebirds led, 6-2. UDC would go on to win by a final of 6-3.
The Firebirds and Senators tied with 19 shots each, but UDC had 13 shots on goal to D&E's eight. UDC was also more efficient converting clear attempts as the Firebirds were 17-of-24 and the Senators were 14-of-25.
Brown said she was encouraged by the program's 2nd all-time victory and is excited about the rest of the season.
"We need to keep getting better every day, but after today we are definitely looking forward to our next chance to play on Friday," she said.
The Firebirds will visit New York Institute of Technology on Friday, March 3rd for their East Coast Conference opener at 2:30 p.m.