JMU lacrosse

JMU players try to keep warm on the sideline before the match gets underway.

JMU lacrosse will compete for the program’s third straight CAA title after a strong second half performance propelled it to a 16-5 win over the Elon Phoenix. The Dukes had ten different players score goals in the game.

Junior attacker Maddie McDaniel had a huge day, as she boasted four goals and nine draw controls, which broke the program record for draw controls in a season. Senior attacker Hanna Haven was also encouraged by McDaniel’s performance, especially when the Phoenix did all it could to minimize Haven’s involvement.

“[McDaniel] really stepped up for us,” Haven said. “I think when she saw I was being face- guarded, she knew she had to take over a little bit of the offense. She’s always crushing out on the draw, and just coming up with some of the goals she did today that were out of her comfort zone really impacted the team.”

The Dukes had a total of 26 shots on goal, 16 ground balls, 15 draw controls and caused 11 turnovers. Despite not playing in a week, JMU came out firing.

JMU faced something it doesn’t often when playing at Sentara Park: climbing out of a deficit. The Dukes rallied five unanswered goals to put themselves in the lead, though, and eventually held an 8-4 lead heading into halftime.

“I think the first half was a combination of a bunch of things,” JMU head coach Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe said. “We had a week and a half off, it’s a big game … and they’re face- guarding Hanna. We were just eager, and we were taking the first opportunity instead of the best shot.”

The Dukes controlled the half with 19 shots and eight draw controls. Phoenix redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Paulina Difatta’s eight first-half saves were a strong reason why the Phoenix were only down four at the half.

JMU stormed out of the locker room by scoring three quick goals within the first two minutes of the second half, including McDaniel’s third goal of the game 14 seconds in. The Dukes controlled the tempo throughout the half.

“We didn’t expect them to play man against us,” McDaniel said. “So, I think that took some time in the first half to try and figure out … coming through the second half,we were prepared, and we’ve seen what they were going to do, we knew their tendencies and exploited that, and we started finishing our shots.”

Senior defender Caroline Sdanowich had a herculean performance on the defensive end for the Dukes, especially when it came to creating havoc on the Phoenix with constant pressure.

“She’s just nasty,” Klaes-Bawcombe said. “She’s all over people’s hands, she’s slowing down transition, she’s getting a piece of the stick and picking up the ground ball.”

Elon’s leading scorers included sophomore midfielder Mae Mcglynn and freshman attacker Kaley Thompson, who each scored twice for the Phoenix. The Phoenix were only able to have 18 shots throughout the game.

JMU (15-3, 6-0 CAA) will play Hofstra. The championship game is at noon Sunday.

Contact Brandon Ellis at ellis3bm@dukes.jmu.edu. For more lacrosse coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.

Sports has been a passion for me all my life. I've always wanted to become a sports journalist ever since I heard the legendary Stuart Scott exclaim his great catchphrases like “Booyah!” or “Cooler than the other side of the pillow.”