WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 11, 2012
JU women bolt out of the gate
JU's Abigail Warnken (11) works against teammate Rachael Krell in Wednesday's opening practice. Play Video
JU's Abigail Warnken (11) works against teammate Rachael Krell in Wednesday's opening practice.
Freshman goalie Asia Moore makes a stop during practice.
Freshman goalie Asia Moore makes a stop during practice.
If the first day of the Jacksonville University women’s lacrosse practice was any indication of what the season will be like, good things are on the horizon.

The Dolphins showed up to Wednesday’s late afternoon, early evening practice at the Ashley Sports Complex with an abundance of enthusiasm and a world away fundamentally from where they were a year ago when they won the National Lacrosse Conference regular-season title.

“I think they did a great job today,’’ head coach Mindy McCord said after practice as a snippy cold front made itself known. “As (assistant coach) Paul (McCord) said, where they are now as to where they started last year at this time is leaps and bounds above.’’

The energy level wasn’t lost on junior Rachel Hannon, from Annapolis, Md.

“It was awesome,’’ said Hannon. “It was great to be back and have the vibe really high, it’s going to help carry us through a long season and into the playoffs.’’

Hannon said winning the regular-season title but not the conference tournament is serving as motivation this time around.

“It’s definitely more motivation,’’ she said. “It was like we talked about today, if we had had that little extra push, if you would have been a little more mental that would have made you a better player (last season). If you could go back and rewind, you definitely would have done that.’’

Neither Hannon nor Mindy McCord were surprised by the burst out of the gate.

“One thing our team brings is spirit,’’ McCord said. “Our team loves to play, that’s what they tell us. They love this game and they love to play and so it didn’t surprise me I was really excited. The enthusiasm and work they did to prepare for this first practice was excellent. You can tell they have worked hard to prepare for this season.’’

The trick now for the coaching staff is to keep the early momentum going.

“We look at that you improve from the day before, that you’re not making the same mistakes today that you made yesterday,’’ McCord said. “That you’re focused on execution and your position and you’re focused on learning your position fundamentals as well as the game that builds your position’s system. We’re in a lot of teaching right now.’’

- Jim Nasella