As the Montclair State University women’s lacrosse team approaches their final five games of the season, they currently have a 7-4 record and have lost only one game so far in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC).
The four games the Red Hawks have won included a three-game winning streak that began on March 26 with a 16-8 win against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The Red Hawks continued their winning streak with a 14-5 win on March 31 against Farmingdale State College and earned their third straight win on April 2 by defeating Fairleigh Dickinson University at Florham 8-6.
“The one thing we really had to work on this year was our offense,” said Head Coach Nicol Parcelluzzi. “We are finally clicking, and we are producing and getting more consistent.”
Junior midfielder Francesca Verrone has scored 12 goals in her last four games, adding to her team-high 24 goals this season. Verrone credits her teammates’ support for her offensive streak.
“I think having practice with all of our teammates there helps,” said Verrone. “We made a switch in our practice schedule because a lot of our teammates have internships or student teaching, so we moved our practice schedule around. Having everyone there really gets everyone working together.”
On April 9, the Red Hawks’ three-game winning streak came to an end in an 8-6 loss against the No. 3 ranked NCAA Division III East Region team, The College of New Jersey.
Montclair State was down 8-3 with 13:05 left in the contest, but their offense emerged late with back-to-back goals by Verrone and a goal by junior attacker Aviana Paraggio. The three unanswered goals cut the deficit to two, but TCNJ was able to hold on for the win.
Despite the loss, senior captain and midfielder Kasey Maguire felt there was a sense of accomplishment in knowing they kept the game close.
“I think we had nerves coming out, which led to a slow start, but then once we realized we can play with [TCNJ] and beat them is when we got more confident and our game plan started to click,” said Maguire.
Parcelluzzi agreed with Maguire, saying the Red Hawks got off to a slow start against TCNJ, but the game changed once Montclair State gained momentum.
“We had a game plan and in the beginning of the game, we didn’t follow it perfectly, and once we did, we started rolling,” said Parcelluzzi.
Parcelluzzi explained that the Red Hawks have never beaten TCNJ, the NJAC champions for the past five years, and the 8-6 loss was one of the closest games that the NJAC rivals have ever competed in with one another.
“I think if we had 10 more minutes we potentially could have won,” Parcelluzzi said.
The Red Hawks will look to get back on track in Glasboro on April 16 against NJAC rival Rowan University at 1 p.m.
After losing to Rowan in the NJAC semi-finals in 2014 and 2015, Maguire hopes to avenge the season-ending losses with a win on the road.
“I think [Rowan] ending our past two seasons has been motivation for us to get back at them,” said Maguire. “We plan to not let that happen again.”
Verrone feels that the preparation that the team goes through will help the Red Hawks against the Profs.
“I think the film breakdown really helps, because we know their tendencies, and we know what to work on in practice,” said Verrone.
Parcelluzzi’s goal is to remain consistent when it comes to getting wins against Rowan both in the regular season and if they have to face off in the postseason.
“Rowan and Montclair [State] are extremely similar, and we have been saying that a lot,” Parcelluzzi said. “We have been preparing by watching film and working on new defenses and offenses. Coming off of last year, losing in the semis, we tend to beat [Rowan] in the regular season and drop off in the postseason. Our biggest goal is to be consistent in the regular season and postseason against Rowan.”