The women’s lacrosse team used its game against lowly La Salle last week as a tune-up for tomorrow’s match with perennial contender Princeton. If the Owls’ play Wednesday was a prelude to what’s to come for the rest of this season, they might be headed for their fifth-straight Atlantic Ten Conference Championship.
The No. 19 Owls posted a commanding 14-5 win over the Explorers at Geasey Field in their first game of the A-10 schedule. It was also their first game since earning a spot in the Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association Top 20 poll since 2002.
The Owls visit No. 4 Princeton tomorrow with plans to avenge last season’s 19-6 loss to the Tigers, first-year coach Jennifer Ulehla said.
“Last year I think [our players] were scared,” Ulehla said. “The focus should never be on fear when playing a team like Princeton. If I’m doing my job, the focus is going to be on playing our game and winning. That’s what our focus will be.”
Before the Owls could worry about Princeton, they had to handle the pesky Explorers. The Owls fell behind, 3-1, with 11:46 to play in the first half.
Having registered comeback wins over then-No. 2 Penn State and Old Dominion this season, the Owls (4-2) weren’t bothered by the deficit. After the Explorers’ third goal, Ulehla called a timeout to talk about focus. In the huddle, she reminded them of previous come-from-behind victories.
“I usually call a timeout, and then they go out and show a lot of character after that,” Ulehla said. “With Princeton, we have to play all 60 minutes, but with La Salle we got away with not doing that.”
Ulehla’s timeout triggered an offensive outburst in which the Owls tallied thirteen consecutive goals. They scored five times in a 3:50 interval late in the first half. In controlling time of possession, the Owls also kept the Explorers (5-4) off the scoreboard for a span of 31 minutes.
“Thirty-one minutes?” Ulehla asked. “As a coach, that makes me happy. If you can, after being down, come back and play like they did on defense, that’s all heart.”
Sophomore midfielder Allison Frengs’ game-high five goals and junior attack Corey Leader’s four goals kept the Explorers at bay the rest of the way. After the game, Leader said communication led to the individual scoring surges.
“When we have a timeout, we regroup and get back on the right track,” Leader said. “We start talking to each other again and that’s when we can score.”
The Owls broke into the IWLCA Top 20 poll last week for the first time in three seasons. Their last appearance in the national poll was in the final regular-season poll of 2002.
Leader said the national ranking won’t affect the Owls, and they won’t be star-struck when they visit No. 4 Princeton tomorrow night.
“We’re young, and we’re scrappy. That helps us going into a game against someone like Princeton. [The underclassmen] have no fear,” Leader said. “They don’t look at [Princeton] like a ranked team. They just go out and play, and that’s a huge advantage for us.”
Sophomore attack Patty Glavin earned IWLCA National Player of the Week honors for her role in the Owls’ two straight wins last week.
In an upset win at then-No. 2 Penn State on March 22, Glavin scored three goals, including the game-winner. She also notched two goals in the final two minutes of regulation to push a comeback effort against Old Dominion on March 26 into overtime. Glavin eventually scored the go-ahead goal in the second overtime period of that game.
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at email@example.com.