Lacrosse Struggling in SCIAC

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Author: Sant Kumar

The women’s lacrosse program is currently suffering through a three-game losing streak. Most recently, they lost 16-9 to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on April 2. Despite this rough stretch, the players and coaches are learning from one another, establishing a foundation for a team that may show drastic SCIAC improvements in coming years.

One bright spot this season is Sarah Kessler (sophomore), who has scored a total of seven goals in these games. She is joined by Isabel Osgood-Roach (sophomore), who has scored five total goals in the last two games. Though the team is currently 3-8 overall and 0-3 in conference play, the team’s youth guarantees that the Tigers will move forward in future seasons.

The 2011 season is far from over, however. The team has five games left in SCIAC, which is ample time to improve their record. The team’s recognition of their strengths and weaknesses is one reason lacrosse cannot be counted out in regional play, according to Victoria Larson (first-year).

“[At] pretty much every single practice, we become a team that can beat the team before. Our ability to know what we need to work on, good coaching and everybody really want[ing] to win has caused it,” she said.

Improvement is inevitable as the team progresses in SCIAC, especially as the Tigers learn how to control the pace of the game. Through better communication about specific goals and field tactics, the team has built a strong defense that gives them an edge over the competition. “Better unity on the field has led to better defense,” Larson said.

Coach Michelle Uhlfelder agrees with Larson. “We play at a greater pace. Our ability to move the ball down field has improved with our commitment to stick work. We have a system that our players are excited about,” she said. Uhlfelder also said that the team gets better at executing their system with every game and opponent.

In addition to an improved system of play, Larson believes the team’s best attribute is the united front it presents to rival teams. The players have formed strong bonds over the past two seasons that have resulted in success on the lacrosse field.

“Everybody loves each other. Our team is like a family. This is our biggest attribute,” Larson said.

There’s still room for improvement, however. One of the areas that the team needs to improve is its mental strength. According to Uhlfelder, the team needs better poise, so as not to allow their opponents to go on long scoring runs.

However, the team has better mental conditioning than at the beginning of the season. Larson attributes this to a better understanding of team dynamics. Uhlfdelder also recognizes how far the team has come since they played their first game in February, as well as how their focus has shifted as the season has progressed.

“In the preseason, we focused on fitness and getting the team physically prepared for games. Now that we are in the middle of the season, focus is on game preparation, strategy and execution,” Uhlfelder said.

During practice, team scrimmages, watching game tapes and introducing different schemes all serve to emphasize a different set of skills.

“There are days that are largely competition based, either against the clock, against a target goal or against each other and built up to unit vs. unit, offense vs. defense. Each day is usually a combination of all of the above,” Uhlfelder said.

Uhlfelder has seen her players grow on and off the field and is proud of their progress, even if the team’s records this season don’t reflect their ability or work ethic.    

“Watching my players enjoy and learn the game at a high level, execution in competitive situations and how my team handles adversity and triumph all make me feel privileged to be part of the team,” Uhlfelder said.

The women’s lacrosse team can next be seen tonight as they play Whittier College at home at 7 p.m.

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