March 2, 2010

Battle for Georgia: Birth of Rivalry

by Jac Coyne | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff | Coyne Archive | Twitter

Tiffany Dillard is one of the 12 freshmen on the LaGrange women's team who will be taking on rival Agnes Scott in the first collegiate varsity lacrosse game featuring Georgia programs on Thursday.
© Jerry Mucklow 

Varsity lacrosse in the state of Georgia will have to wait two days.

The game between LaGrange and Agnes Scott - a pair of first-year programs participating in their first-ever contest - scheduled for Tuesday had to be bumped back until Thursday for a very un-Georgia reason.

"It's snowing today in Atlanta," said Julie Moses, LaGrange's head coach. "It never snows down here and it has already snowed three times this winter."

A little bit of the white stuff hasn't dampened the enthusiasm of the players who will officially put the Peach State on the collegiate map.

"Oh, it's crazy times down here," laughed Nikki Williams, coach of Agnes Scott. "The kids are excited to be a part of it."

Unlike their Division I neighbor to the south, the University of Florida, neither of these Division III schools will be playing a national schedule or boasting blue-chip recruits.

Both schools have joined the USA South Conference, a league made up primarily of Virginia and North Carolina institutions and dominated by Christopher Newport, but each will only be playing one non-independent program this spring - Oberlin, which finished the 2009 campaign with an 0-14 record.

The players on both rosters will be a blend of recruits with some high school lacrosse experience and multi-sport athletes looking to play the fastest growing sport in the country.

Moses, who is also the volleyball coach at LaGrange, has co-opted a couple of her fall players to the spring sport. Williams, who was a standout goalie for St. Lawrence and led the Saints to a three NCAA appearances in the late 1980s, will also be combining experienced players and raw talent.

"Luckily, we started a club team last year, so I have a stable of about 10 or 12 kids who continued through to this year," said Williams. "I lucked out because it's always good to have a goalie and I've got a senior, Mia Jacintho, who actually played goalie when she lived in Massachusetts."

"We have a good mix, and it's a pretty even mix," said Moses. "We announced the program in 2008, so it gave us a few months to recruit. We brought in five new players."

Since LaGrange and Agnes Scott are both in the same developmental boat, it should be an exciting contest. The hope is the two schools, which are both in the Great South Conference for most other sports, will be able to develop a heated rivalry on the lacrosse field.

It may take a little longer for the fans to catch up with the players, however.

There is still a curiosity factor for many of the students walking across both campuses about the sport. Although there are 60 girl's high school varsity programs in Georgia, the sport is still waiting to be embraced. As a result, Williams has sent out emails to the all-female Agnes Scott student body entitled "Lax Facts," hoping to spur some interest and crowd support.

LaGrange, which is located in about 60 miles south of Atlanta, is hoping to send a handful of fans to Agnes Scott, which is in Decatur, an Atlanta suburb. Regardless of the crowd, the intensity is building toward Thursday's watershed game.

"Everyone is very excited," said Moses. "There are a couple of girls new to the sport who are a little nervous, but it's a good nervous."

That's what rivalries are all about.

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