Focus. That is the mindset that members of the lacrosse team said they need as the Owls head into this weekend’s Atlantic Ten Conference Tournament. By defeating Massachusetts and George Washington last week, the Owls clinched the tournament’s No. 1 seed.
The Owls’ wins also earned them a share of the regular season championship for the seventh straight year. They head to Richmond on Friday to take on the Spiders, in pursuit of their fifth consecutive A-10 Championship.
The Owls (13-4, 5-2) finished the regular season with a season-high four straight wins, following a shaky midseason stretch during which they fell out of the national top 20 with three losses in four games. With the postseason just days away, coach Jennifer Ulehla said focus is a must.
“After that shaky stretch, I think we are focusing more. In these past games when I have seen lapses on the field, I have called timeouts and stressed the need to focus,” Ulehla said. “Once out of the timeouts, they have done just that. But while we are focusing [better], I don’t think we are at the level we could be at yet. But I believe we will be there come postseason.”
A preseason poll of A-10 coaches predicted the Owls as a No. 4 seed in the conference playoffs, and the young, inexperienced team under the guidance of a new coach was not expected to thrive. The highest seed is now theirs, and junior midfielder Corey Leader said the Owls picked the right time to peak.
“I think the focus comes from meshing as a team,” Leader said. “I really think we are doing a great job of picking up the slack as a whole. We are moving well on the field, we are stepping it up on defense, and the bench is contributing. When all of that happens, we are successful in our goals.”
The Owls have found success with strong play up front. They received big contributions from junior attacker Patty Glavin, sophomore attacker Allison Frengs, and Leader. In the Owls’ last two wins, the trio accounted for 15 of the teams’ 23 goals.
In Friday’s 12-6 win over UMass, Frengs and Glavin combined for seven goals. Sunday, Frengs scored a game-high five goals and Leader contributed three more in the Owls’ 11-10 overtime defeat of GW.
With the score tied, 5-5, at halftime against the Colonials, the Owls came out hot, scoring four goals in eight minutes. The Colonials, who entered the game fighting the Owls for the No. 1 seed, managed a slow comeback over the next 14 minutes. They eventually tied the game at 9-9, forcing an extra session. In overtime, Frengs blew past Colonial defenders to net the decisive goal.
“We work well together,” Glavin said of Frengs. “On the field I am telling her where I am going to be. If I am going to be coming off a screen, and she’ll do the same. We feed off of each other.”
Ulehla said Frengs, a two-time A-10 Player of the Week, has been the team’s “rock” this season.
If the Owls win their first-round matchup with the Spiders, they will take on the winner of the other semifinal game between Duquesne and George Washington. The championship game is scheduled for Saturday.
Greg Otto can be reached at email@example.com