February 21, 2012

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Getting Win No. 1 Isn't So Easy

by Clare Lochary | LaxMagazine.com

Starting defender Denise Lenihan and William and Mary had a chance for a win against Navy, but ground balls doomed them.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com 

When you're 0-1, it can feel like 0-10. Getting the first win of a season lets the team know it's on the right track. It doesn't always come in the first game, but hopefully it doesn't take too long. Now that lacrosse season is in full swing, let's take a look at Division I women's teams still chasing that first 'W.' There are still a handful of teams (mainly in the Ivy League) who haven't had their season-opener yet, so we'll just focus on people who've already hit the turf a few times.

Stanford

Current record: 0-3
Next game: James Madison (0-0), Feb. 25

Key to Victory: Limit the Dukes' shots. The Cardinal's defense is giving up 16.33 goals per game, despite a .410 save percentage from goalie (and LaxMagazine.com blogger) Lyndsey Munoz. You can't allow good teams to shoot more than 32 times per game and expect to win.

The Skinny: Maybe they didn't expect to beat Northwestern in their season opener, but Stanford probably did expect to beat either Ohio State (a team that just missed LM's preseason top 20 and is currently 4-0) or Notre Dame (currently 1-0 under first year head coach Christine Halfpenny). Stanford, a top 10 team and perennially the best in the West, must be feeling the heat at 0-3. To be fair, the team didn't treat itself to any early season cupcake games. Stanford has an incredibly difficult non0conference schedule that includes three ALC opponents, two Ivy League teams and the defending champs of both the America East and the Colonial Athletic Association (James Madison). They are the only ranked team in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, though, so it's possible that Stanford could be winless through February (and theoretically even through March) and then just stomp everyone flat in conference play and pick up their eighth straight MPSF title and lock in an AQ. The Cardinal has not lost an MPSF game since 2008.

Colgate

Record: 0-2
Next game: at Vermont (0-0), Feb. 24

Key to Victory: Play consistently. The Raiders lost to Stony Brook, 13-10, after spotting the Seawolves a 9-6 halftime lead. Versus Hofstra in their home opener, Colgate was up 6-4 at the break before losing 9-8.

The Skinny: Colgate beat Vermont, 20-14, last season on the strength of a career-high nine points from Colleen Bubnak, who finished the season with a team-high 51. The Raiders' current points leader is senior midfielder Courtney Miller with seven goals and one assist. Last year Miller split her points evenly between goals (36) and assists (36). It appears that head coach Heather Young has given Miller the green light to shoot, while junior attacker Kate Sheridan (4a) has become the distributor.

Richmond

Record: 0-2
Next game: at Virginia (1-0), Feb. 22

Key to Victory: Tighten up defensively without getting hacky. The Spiders came within striking distance of taking down Duke, losing 17-13 in the season opener. The offense went on a 6-2 run towards the end of the game against the Blue Devils, and you have to wonder if things might have been different if Duke goalie Mollie Mackler hadn't had a 13-save day, or if Richmond hadn't racked up five yellow cards. The Spiders had only one yellow card in their second loss, a 17-6 rout to North Carolina.

The skinny: After hosting two ACC teams, the Spiders hit the road to take on another. That's a tough way to start a season. The Cavaliers looked great in their opener, defeating Loyola, 14-9.

William and Mary

Record: 0-3
Next game: at Virginia Tech (1-0), Feb. 25

Key to Victory: The blowouts versus Maryland and Duke don't tell us much, so let's look at the Tribe's 13-12 loss to Navy, a game with six ties and four lead changes. The reason W&M couldn't seal the deal versus the Mids was ground balls, where Navy had a 21-12 advantage. So get low, Tribe, and nab that first win for first-year head coach Brooke Ireland.

The Skinny: Virginia Tech has a midweek game versus up-and-coming High Point, which had its own one-goal win over Navy last week. The Hokies could be a little softened up by Saturday.


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