FRIDAY, MAY 10, 2013
NCAA Game Day: Jacksonville vs No. 13 Denver 4:00 pm Friday
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The Jacksonville athletic program puts another stone in its collective historic wall when the women’s lacrosse team plays its first-ever NCAA tournament game Friday.
The Dolphins (13-5) will face No. 13 Denver (17-2), at the Dizney Stadium at the University of Florida Lacrosse Facility at 4 p.m. in the first round game. The winner meets No. 4 Florida Sunday for a spot in the tournament’s Elite Eight.
The Dolphins, in only their fourth year of existence, got into the tournament by breezing through the Atlantic Sun Conference regular season and post season tournament to win the conference automatic berth.
“For our players to have improved this much over four years says a heck of a lot about their work ethic and ability to want to grow as players, the extra work they’ve had to put in,’’ head coach Mindy McCord said. “And, it says a lot about our coaching staff. We have great coaches that can teach the game.’’
The JU offense, which had four players scoring 30 or more goals this season, leads all Division I teams in scoring offense at 16.17 goals per game, the third consecutive season the Dolphins have led the country in the category. They are third in points (429) and scoring margin (8.11).
Senior Amanda Hurley (Columbus, Ga.) led the way with 43 goals while junior attackers Morgan Derner (Lake Mary, Fla.) and Brittney Orashen (Lebanon, N. J.) had 34 and 31 each. Sophomore Taylor McCord (Jacksonville, Fla.), who transferred from Florida, had 30. McCord and junior Ali Hoffman (Gambrills, Md.) led the team with 28 and 23 assists.
While the Dolphins are used to being near the top of the heap on the offensive side, this season JU leads the country in caused turnovers with 13.44 per game. Orashen and junior midfielder Chelsea Watts (West Long Branch, N.J.) each have 26 to lead the team and the speedy Derner has 21.
The Pioneers, who also are making their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance after their school-record 17-win season, have their own gaudy statistics to lean on.
Denver, which won the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation regular season for the fourth time in head coach Liza Kelly’s seven-year tenure, is second to JU nationally in caused turnovers (11.04 per game) and is seventh in scoring at 14.37 goals per game and fifth in points with 402.
Sophomore attack Jill Remenapp (Woodbine, Md.) led the team with 105 points including 69 assists while redshirt senior Kara Secora (Denver, Colo.) had a whopping 55 goals. Junior attack Jenn Etzel (Bel Air, Md.) was second on the team with 48 goals and senior defender Kate Henrick (Lansdale, Pa.) had 65 caused turnovers.
“They’re a hard working team,’’ Hurley said. “We played them two years ago (a 10-7 JU win at home) and have improved so much since then. We’re faster and we’re so much more mature on the field. We have a better vision of the field versus two years ago. We’ve grown as a team and I think that really shows.’’
Mindy McCord, who has built the team from scratch, said the Dolphins have adopted a “survive and advance’’ mentality for the tournament.
“We’re just really excited,’’ she said. “I’ve heard a lot of the girls say they want to focus on what we do. Obviously, you have to prepare for the opponent and know their tendencies but we love being able to run our style of play. That’s what the focus is, doing what we do well.’’
She also said in the tournament format there is no putting the cart ahead of the horse.
“We’re going to prepare for Denver and if we are able to move forward then Saturday we’ll prepare for Florida. If you give too much information right now they’ll be focused on the wrong task and they are very different opponents. You have to be focused on the game right in front of you.’’
Hurley said she’d be surprised if the Dolphins came out with first-tournament jitters.
“We have nothing to lose and everything to prove,’’ she said. “We could just come out of nowhere and we have done that before.’’
The game will be broadcast on 1010XL’s 92.5FM radio with Brian Freshley and Jim Nasella on the call.
Survive & Advance
The Dolphins gained their inspiration for a run-and-gun style of play from former Loyola Marymount basketball all-american Bo Kimble and his late teammate Hank Gathers who tragically passed away from heart-muscle disorder in March of 1990.
“After watching the ESPN 30-for-30 special, we decided in year two to try something different in order to be competitive,” said Head Coach Mindy McCrod. “It was instantly successful and within a few weeks we had almost knocked off the Team USA’s U19 team and we beat Denver.”
This spring it was another 30-for-30 special that has served as an inspiration for the team’s first NCAA Tournament run. After watching Survive and Advance, the story of the 1983 NC State Wolfpack championship team, the Dolphins invited Dereck Whittenburg to campus. Through his inspirational message the Dolphins develop their own JU Style of Survive & Advance.
Jacksonville Dominates the Newly Minted A-Sun in 2013
The Dolphins rolled through the inaugural season of A-Sun play this season outscoring opponents by a combined 128-23 in four regular season and two tournament games. The domination is not only credited to an aggressive run-and-gun offense, but a full field pressure defense. During the six game span, Jacksonville held A-Sun competition to a mere 41.2 (47-114) clear percentage.
The only thing that might be more impressive then the Dolphins high scoring exploits on the field is their performance in the classroom. The team currently has a 3.51 cumulative GPA with 29 student-athletes posting a GPA of 3.0 or better in the fall semester.