ECU women’s lacrosse comes up short against Vanderbilt, 14-12

Megan Pallozzi ECU Lacrosse
Megan Pallozzi ECU Lacrosse(ECU Athletics)
Published: Mar. 28, 2021 at 4:28 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (ECU) – A spirited second-half comeback came up just two goals short as the ECU women’s lacrosse team fell to Vanderbilt 14-12 Sunday inside Johnson Stadium.

ECU falls to 3-7 on the season with a 1-3 AAC mark while Vanderbilt improves to 9-2 with a 4-0 league mark.

The Pirates got the opening goal of the game, when Nicole LeGar scored an unassisted tally at the 26:21 mark, but the ECU offense struggled for much of the opening half. After LeGar’s opening marker, Vanderbilt rattled off the next three goals, two of which came on assists by Gabby Fornia.

The Vanderbilt run momentarily came to an end at 10:16 in the first half when Megan Pallozzi scored off a pass from Anna Joseph. But Vanderbilt finished the opening stanza on a 4-0 run, with Fornia scoring one goal and adding three assists in the run.

Trailing 7-2 at halftime, the Pirates faced an upward climb to get back into the game. The Pirates started on the right foot as LeGar scored a man-up goal off a pass from Elizabeth Wilson. Pallozzi followed with a goal of her own. That gave Pallozzi 100 points for her career, joining LeGar as the only ECU players to reach the century mark.

Fornia continued to engineer the Commodores’ offense, feeding Elizabeth Scarrone for a man-up goal and then adding a tally of her own. On the other end, LeGar and Pallozzi were spark plugs for their squad’s offense. Pallozzi completed her hat trick followed by LeGar adding a free-position goal. Pallozzi made it three straight ECU goals at the 17:52 mark, cutting ECU’s deficit to just two goals (9-7).

Unfortunately, every time East Carolina tried to get closer, Vanderbilt had an answer. After Pallozzi’s goal, the Commodores scored back-to-back tallies to restore the four-goal lead. The two teams traded goals back-and-forth, with Payton Barr and Megan Tryniski scoring for the Pirates while Fornia continued her torrid pace with a goal and two more helpers to put Vanderbilt up 14-9 with 10 minutes remaining.

Facing that five-goal deficit, ECU tried to once again fight back. Goals from France Kimel and Camryn Pennypacker just 16 seconds apart gave the Pirates some life. Another Kimel goal with 3:34 to go once again cut the deficit to just a pair of goals and forced a Vanderbilt timeout.

Needing the ball in order to keep the momentum going, the Pirates saw a few bounces go against them. First, Mikela McCauley won the draw for Vanderbilt and then a Scarrone shot hit the crossbar near the end of the shot clock, giving Vanderbilt another 90 seconds to work with. That led to a Maddie Souza shot with 59 seconds remaining. Ashley Vernon made the save for East Carolina, but Souza recovered the ground ball and with the shot clock turned off, the Commodores were able to run out the clock.

Pallozzi led ECU with four goals while LeGar (3) and Kimel (2) also had multiple markers. Alexandra Giacolone and Vernon each scooped up three ground balls for the Pirates while Cece Bartley caused a pair of Commodore turnovers. LeGar led the Pirates at the draw circle, adding four draw controls with Liz Blumthal adding a pair of her own. Vernon finished with 12 saves in the cage for East Carolina and now has at least 10 saves six times this season.

Fornia finished with 12 points on three goals and nine assists for Vanderbilt, setting a Johnson Stadium record in both points and assists. Griffin Gearhadt was a frequent recipient of those assists, finishing with five goals and an assist. In goal, Paige Gunning made 11 saves for the Commodores.

Vanderbilt finished with a 40-29 edge in shots, but just a 26-23 lead in shots on goal. The Commodores turned it over 12 times to just seven for ECU and ECU held a slim 16-15 edge in ground balls. However, Vanderbilt had a dominating 19-9 lead in draw controls, led by McCauley’s seven and Cassidy Orban’s six.

ECU will be back in action with a roadtrip to Florida for a pair of games. The first will get started at 4 p.m., on Thursday afternoon in Gainesville, Fla.

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