Women’s lacrosse strives for perfect NLC regular season record at Presbyterian on Saturday
With the National Lacrosse Conference regular season championship already locked up, the JU women’s lacrosse team will be aiming to finish undefeated in NLC play when it faces Presbyterian in the regular season finale on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in Clinton, S.C.

The Dolphins (11-4, 6-0) enter with a seven-game winning streak. JU sits in sole possession of first place in the eight-team NLC and holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over second-place High Point. In just the second year of the program, head coach Mindy McCord has guided JU to its first regular-season title and the top seed in the NLC Tournament, which will start on April 29 at Davidson.

“We’re excited to have clinched the regular season title, but our work is not done,” McCord said. “Our goal is to finish strong against Presbyterian and be at our best for the start of the conference tournament.”

JU will look to finish strong against a struggling Presbyterian squad that is 4-10 and 2-3 and losers of three of its last four. The Dolphins beat the Blue Hose, 20-19, last year in the first all-time meeting between the schools.

Freshman attacker Jen Cosgrove is coming off her conference “Player of the Week” award after tallying seven goals and nine points in a two-game stretch to lift JU to wins over Detroit and Howard. Cosgrove has 17 goals playing mainly as a reserve. Her production embodied JU’s balanced scoring attack, as 11 Dolphins have posted double-digit goal totals this season.

The Dolphins outscored Detroit and Howard by a combined score of 44-9 without the team’s leading scorer seeing a minute of action. Freshman Morgan Derner missed those games due to illness. But the attacker still leads JU in goals (35), points (45) and shots (62) and can become the first 40-goal scorer in JU history if she scores five goals against Presbyterian. Though that challenge is difficult, Derner already has recorded a five-goal game versus Temple and a career-high seven-goal output against Long Island University.

Ellyn Spangenberg continued her strong two-way play, scoring a goal and causing three turnovers in the Howard win. Spangenberg’s 21 goals in 15 games trails only Derner for the team lead. Amanda Hurley also has provided strong offensive punch, scoring a game-high four goals against the Bison to become the third 20-goal scorer for JU this season.

Though the offensive players’ impact is easy to quantify by reading the scoresheet, JU has been boosted by its defenders’ stellar play in building a plus-90 goal differential. Sophomore Rachel Hannon leads the Dolphins with 18 caused turnovers, adding 24 ground balls and 29 draw controls.

Jessica Hotchkiss has also been an important contributor. The junior defender has 12 caused turnovers, 19 ground balls and 16 draw controls. Freshman Rachel Forman has joined Hannon and Hotchkiss to form a formidable starting trio on the backline. Forman has 18 ground balls and 11 caused turnovers.

Thanks to the defensive support and a solid play in the cage, sophomore goalie Karli Tobin will carry a9.59 goals-against-average into the last tune-up before the NLC Tournament. Tobin has 105 saves and a .434 save percentage in crafting an 11-4 record. Tobin has played all but 42:18 in net this season, logging 857:21 of total time.

- By Brian Bohl