BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Lehigh women’s lacrosse team is in its second week of preseason practice as a young squad is hard at work preparing for the 2013 season. The Mountain Hawks began practice last Monday (Jan. 21) and despite a hard-fought battle against the winter elements, players and coaches alike are excited to be back on the field.
Last week’s temperatures were routinely in the teens and twenties during the day and down to single digits at night.
“It’s great training for adversity, dealing with the elements and whatever comes your way on a particular day,” said Lehigh head coach Jill Redfern. “Our girls have not blinked at the temperatures and resilience is something that we want to be a cornerstone of our program, so we’re not complaining. If there’s no snow and no ice, we’re pretty happy.”
While the cold temperatures have definitely been a factor, they haven’t stopped the players from getting to work.
“It’s definitely a test of our mental toughness,” said senior captain Julie McBrien. “It’s really difficult being out here, but we’re handling it really well and we’re having a lot of fun and getting a lot accomplished, so it’s definitely good.”
This year’s squad features a young and talented bunch including nine freshmen and nine sophomores. They’re led by senior tri-captains McBrien, Anna Patterson, and MaryLeah DiNisco. Sophomore Carli Sukonik returns after posting a team-leading 41 goals and 47 points last season. Two of Lehigh’s top three scorers return as McBrien was third with 36 points (24 goals, 12 assists).
“There are six upperclassmen, so we try to set the discipline and the precedence for all of us,” said McBrien. “The freshman and sophomores are coming on board and are excited to do everything that’s asked of them; they’re going above and beyond. We’re excited.”
Redfern is confident that both the senior leadership and the eagerness of the underclassmen will foster a cohesive group.
“Our leadership is strong; we have three captains in our senior class which isn’t the same as it’s been in the last couple of years, which we’re looking forward to,” said Redfern. “We have some underclassmen that are coming along in their leadership roles too, so we’re looking forward to contributions from different people in that role also.”
So far, it’s been all about the basics and reconditioning - the fundamentals that will lead to a successful 2013 campaign.
“We’re really working on our execution at this point,” said Redfern. “We’re working on set plays and specific defenses. Then before you know it, you’re into scouting reports and preparing for specific opponents.”
With the season opener against Villanova less than three weeks away, there is still a lot to be accomplished.
“I think we have a gritty team and one that can have some quality endurance over the course of a game,” said Redfern. “We have a lot of personnel to sort through and figure out exactly which roles people are going to be in, but I think they’re a together team who’s committed. We’re looking forward to making progress.”
“Our chemistry is coming together really well,” said McBrien. “We all get along and it’s definitely paying off on our defense.”
The Mountain Hawks continue hard at work in preparation for their season opener on Saturday, Feb. 16 against Villanova. Game time is set for 1 p.m. at the Ulrich Sports Complex.
Story by Taylor Boyd ‘13