WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 11, 2012
Excitement, expectations high for JU women's lacrosse team
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Perhaps it was the boost provided by winning the National Lacrosse Conference championship last season, but Jacksonville University women’s lacrosse coach Mindy McCord is finding a new level of excitement heading into the season.

“Players have been emailing me over the (Christmas) break and telling me how excited and pumped up they are for practices to start,’’ McCord said as she prepared to open practice Tuesday afternoon.

The Dolphins, in their third year, are coming off a 14-5 record (7-0 in conference) which included a 10-game win streak and being the top scoring team in the country (16.2 goals per game) and McCord says she has plenty to be happy about leading into the season.

“This is our first team with upper classmen and what we are seeing is that having more experience is going to improve us with more maturity, more mental toughness and learning from the past,’’ she said.

Additionally, she is seeing older players willing and able to work with younger players, a first for the program.

“This fall we had recruits on campus and we got to sit there and watch some of what we’ve taught over the last two years start to work,’’ McCord said. “The difference is we see more leadership, we see we’re not having to teach as many people. The learning curve has decreased.’’

McCord said that while fitness tests will lead early practice, the team isn’t going to waste time getting down to business.

“We will do our physical fitness testing and that’s always an indicator of who was paying attention over the break,’’ she said. “I always like to look at that as our initial indicator. Then we’re getting right into our installs. This is our training camp leading up to our exhibition against England (Jan. 25) and we want to be prepared with the installs of our system and our fundamentals and we get into that right away.’’

Not surprisingly, the team to repeat as conference champion and now is on the cusp of another key goal.

“A goal is always to be conference champion, we’ll strive for that again,’’ McCord said. “We’d also like to be a top 20 program in the country and with that we try to focus on getting better every day.’’

There is a plan to get to the goals.

“Making sure our players are confident, that we have good team chemistry, that we’re teaching a lot and that we’re getting the reps in to build their confidence,’’ McCord said. “That ultimately is going to build their competence with practices. We feel those are the right ingredients to reach some of the goals.’’

- Jim Nasella