LEXINGTON, Va. -- Behind six goals from sophomore captain Celine Lazzaro, the Virginia Military Institute women’s water polo team halted a four-game winning streak for visiting Grove City College with an 11-7 victory Tuesday afternoon at Clark King Pool.
In the middle of the third quarter of the non-conference game, Lazzaro potted her 65th goal of the 2013 season, surpassing the single-season mark of 64 set by teammate Mackenzie Perkins last year. The goal was Lazzaro’s fourth of the day, which she followed up with another two in the fourth.
“It feels really good,” said Lazzaro of her accomplishment. “(Today) was a team effort, you can’t just take the ball and shoot it. Your team has to help create the opportunity for you, so I feel that everyone helped accomplish that goal together. It wasn’t on my own.”
Lazzaro led all scorers with her six, while VMI’s second leading scorer, Caitlyn Jackson, notched three goals followed by two from Perkins. Jackson was the only Keydet to have two exclusions in a relatively calm game. This was the third time in Lazzaro’s career she has hit the six-goal plateau in a game.
“I’m proud of her for doing it,” said Perkins of Lazzaro’s new benchmark. “It was a good game to do it in and we all came together for some counter attacks, man-up situations, so our whole team contributed to all of the goals we scored today.”
Grove City was paced by a pair of hat tricks, one from Kristi Baur and the second from Jocelyn Hinkle. Lauren Burrows accounted for the Wolverines’ seventh marker.
In goal, VMI’s defensive effort was led by freshman Molly Watkins, who made 13 saves, including five in the fourth quarter. Her save total on Thursday pushed her over the single-season record mark as well, giving her 195 in 2013. She vaults past current senior Amanda Berrios’ mark of 186 during the inaugural 2012 season.
Opposite Watkins, Amanda Johnston stopped eight Keydet attempts, while a teammate was credited with a team save as Johnston was out of the goal.
The Keydets (11-12) jumped out to an early 4-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, thanks to Lazzaro’s hat trick in the first eight minutes. Jackson contributed her first goal as well. VMI added to the advantage early in the second quarter, building to a 5-0 lead with 7:22 left in the half.
Baur scored with 7:02 remaining in the second, snapping a 17-minute scoreless streak for VMI’s opponents, dating back to the 55 second mark of third quarter in the Keydets 10-9 victory over St. Francis College Brooklyn on Sunday. A goal from Perkins followed by Hinkle’s first goal of the day sent VMI into halftime with a 6-2 lead.
Grove City (8-6) struck just over a minute into the third quarter to pull within three goals of the Keydets, but Lazzaro and Jackson scored back-to-back goals to extend VMI’s lead to 8-4. Jackson was credited with the game-winning goal, her second in as many outings.
Each team scored twice in the final stanza, with both of VMI’s coming from the hand of Lazzaro. Baur and Burrows scored for the Wolverines, but it was too little too late as VMI coasted to its 11th win this season. With the victory, VMI remains undefeated at Clark King Pool against non-conference opponents.
After playing four games in two days this past weekend, VMI will have just two Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tilts on Saturday. VMI squares off with Wagner College at 11:30 a.m. followed by a 2:30 match with Villanova University. Both games will be contested at the Villanova Swim Complex.