Trying to follow up on a 24-2 season, the nationally-third-ranked women’s club lacrosse team will start its year with a game Saturday in Denver against Regis.
“We’ve only been practicing for a month, so this will be a good game to get our feet wet,” said first year Head Coach Whitney Lewis, who was last year’s assistant coach and will take over the reins this season. “We played well in our scrimmage, so I think we’re going to be ready.”
Despite losing four key players from last year’s squad, the team feels this season could be as successful as the last. The team entered the national tournament as the number one team in the nation before falling to Michigan and finishing third.
“At first we were considering this season as a rebuilding year,” Lewis said. “But after seeing our freshman talent and our senior leadership, we may have a chance of being better than last year.”
Among the departed are the two-time USL-WDIA player of the year Jen Gunlikson, the nation’s offensive player of the year Kate Sebesta, and mid-field player of the year Dana Nilson.
“Jen and the others are going to be big shoes to fill, but we are still a good team with talented mid-fielders,” said returning junior defenseman and first year captain Ellen Raih. “We’re going to have a whole different game this year trying to be faster and quicker.”
In an attempt to gain speed, the team is looking for help from one of the men’s assistant coaches, Cale Nelson. However, the Rams’ returnees aren’t without talent, including reigning net-minder of the year Brooke Lewis who hasn’t missed a beat, her teammates say.
“We still have a lot of talent, especially in the mid-field and with young returning players like Lisa (Long),” Riah said. “Brooke is looking even better than last year.”
Even Lewis agreed: “Brooke came out and played amazing so I’m not worried at all.”
The Rams will open on the road for its first two contests, at Regis and the Oct. 7 match-up at UNC. Its home opener is Oct. 8 when the team hosts Air Force.
Staff writer Aaron Schoonmaker can be reached at sports.collegian.com