Women’s Lacrosse Falls to Denver, 17-4, in Big East Opening Game


Ryan Sarbello/Villanovan Photography

The Wildcats fell to Denver on the road in their first conference game.

Elijah McDow, Staff Writer

Nicknamed “the mile high city,” the altitude in Denver, Colorado is 5,279 feet above sea level. Each season, teams like the Denver Broncos, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Rockies and the University of Denver Pioneers use this to their advantage. For opposing teams, fatigue can set in much earlier than it does at lower altitudes, which is something Villanova’s women’s lacrosse team learned this past Saturday.  

After finishing its non-conference schedule with a 12-10 win over Bucknell, Saturday was a hostile welcome to Big East play. Despite having an 8-2 record, the Wildcats began the conference season with a 17-4 defeat.

Head coach Jill Batcheller knew that playing Denver on the road was never going to be easy. While Batcheller believes the altitude did not play as big of a role as it has with other teams, she had still hoped for a better outcome. 

 “We got out [to Denver] two days before to help us get used to the change in altitude,” Batcheller said. “Not entirely sure how much the altitude impacted us, but I think overall we could have had a stronger performance.”

From the start, it was clear that Denver had the edge both in skill and in endurance. The Wildcats found themselves down, 6-2, at the end of the first quarter. 

“We were getting so many cards in the beginning of the game,” Batcheller said. “We had four cards which translated into three goals.”

While it felt good for the Wildcats to get two goals on the board, Denver’s dominance continued well into the second quarter. The Pioneers went on a six-goal scoring streak, and Villanova found itself down, 12-3, heading into halftime. 

During the break, Batcheller tried to keep things positive for her team. She tried to bring her team’s energy back and get them motivated to play two more quarters.

“We talked about how we needed to trust in ourselves,” Batcheller said. “We really tried to put the belief back in each individual player.”

Of the three goals that the Wildcats scored in the first half, each of them came from the team’s most consistent players. Graduate attacker Caroline Curnal opened the scoring, and sophomore attackers Sydney Pappas and Sami Carey scored the two additional goals. 

“Curnal has been a great leader for us this whole season,” Batcheller said. “I thought even though the game was challenging she did a great job of continuing to communicate and brought good energy. Cara Moreau has been injured and her coming back and making an appearance within the offense was beneficial for the team and she also made a big impact.” 

Despite Moreau scoring the opening goal of the second half, Denver remained dominant. The Pioneers continued to add more goals to the board and dictated the game. 

In the fourth quarter, the Wildcats’ offense continued to have no reply to Denver’s goal scoring. The goal from Moreau just four minutes into the third quarter ended up being the Wildcats’ last goal of the game. 

“I think [Denver was] faster and more consistent all over,” Batcheller said. “I think our team struggled to adjust to that speed of play throughout the game.” 

While there were plenty of negatives, some of the positives from the game that Batcheller saw mostly centered around the team’s confidence during tough times.

“I was really proud of the players’ confidence,” Batcheller said. “The last time we played Denver I don’t think we were as confident with the ball, and I think we did a really good job of this despite the score.”

When the Wildcats take the field against 7-3 UConn at 2 p.m. on Wednesday April 5th, they will do so back on their home field and back at a lower altitude. The Huskies are a good team, and they are opponents that Batcheller, her staff and her players are not taking lightly.