Cenzo Rossi ‘22
The Women’s Lacrosse season starts with a bang as the team travels to face two tough squads—Virginia Tech and the top-ranked preseason team, North Carolina. While Virginia Tech is a familiar opponent for Davidson, as they played them this fall, this is the first time Davidson has faced North Carolina under the stewardship of Head Coach Kim Wayne.
The lacrosse team follows these tough matches with three more road fixtures against Furman, Elon, and Old Dominion. While Furman was picked second in the Southern Conference preseason poll, Elon and Old Dominion are both predicted to finish in the lower half of their respective conferences.
This difficult beginning is a stark contrast from last season, where the team raced out to a 6-0 record against weaker competition.
Despite winning their first six games, the team struggled in A-10 play and missed the conference tournament, losing conference games to VCU and George Washington by one goal. Second team All-Defensive Team member Natalie Junior ‘21 stated that the team wanted to challenge themselves early in the non-conference season and that playing tough competition will allow them to “rise up in the A-10.”
According to Coach Kim Wayne, the “team believes they can compete” with the superior teams. Starting goalie Delaney Guhman ‘20 echoed this statement saying the team “will be as prepared as we can be,” and midfielder Shannon Blee ‘20 claimed the team is “putting in the extra work to be as strong as possible.”
The team’s strength has been evident in practice and, as Junior suggested, the team is creating a “certain mental fortitude” that can last the whole match, helping the team win those close games that eluded them last season.
Despite losing top points leader Braeden Dial (sixty-one points) to transfer and key goal scorers Sarah Kopp ‘19 and Sophia Sgroi ‘19 to graduation, Davidson returns with a well-balanced attack.
The team welcomes back attacker Olivia Carey ‘21 whose thirty-nine points (17 goals, 22 assists) ranked second on the team last year. Also returning is All-Rookie midfielder Gianna New ‘22, who accumulated thirty-seven points last season (28 goals, 9 assists); midfielder Sam Rippley ‘21, who racked up 21 goals and 10 assists; and midfielder Emily Weld ‘22, who scored 22 goals. Lastly, lefty crease attacker Grace Fahey ‘23 strengthens the attack.
Despite losing key pieces, Guhman asserts that the team has “a lot more producers” who work well as a unit despite the lack of a standout player. Specifically, Coach Wayne heaps praise for Blee claiming she “works harder than anyone” and does “all the little behind the scenes things” that make a team successful.
Star defender Junior, who was selected for the preseason All-Conference team, is primed for another sensational campaign. Claudia Becker ‘20 plays alongside her as an ever-present player who has started forty-nine games in the past three seasons. The defensive experience ends here, as the team consists of many young defenders. Junior has noticed the high maturity of the sophomores and has praised the “good mentality” of the young defense. The aforementioned Guhman “quarterbacks” the relatively inexperienced backline, holding the defense together. Guhman was fourth in the A-10 last season with 11.19 goals allowed, and her 138 saves were good for tenth-most in Davidson history.
Despite being picked seventh in the preseason poll, the team will strive to improve consistently and hopes to threaten all over the field. After missing the conference tournament last season, Coach Wayne hopes the inexperienced Wildcats can qualify for the A-10 tournament. As Blee summarizes, Davidson is a “close-knit team this year,” so with more consistency, a strong mentality to finish off close games, and a little luck, they can achieve this goal.