In only the second season of the program’s existence, the women’s lacrosse team holds a 10-2 record as they vie for a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
The team has built on the surprising success of its inaugural campaign, in which the Moc’s finished 12-4 under Head Coach Kara Reber.
“I’m very happy with the season so far,” Reber said. “I think our team has picked up right where we left off from last year.”
Despite a 12-10 loss to fifth-ranked Rollins on April 3, the Mocs are still right in the thick of the playoff hunt. Sophomore Co-Captain Melissa Halstead believes the close loss actually gave the Mocs confidence as they approach the season’s home stretch.
“We know we could’ve beaten them,” Halstead said. “They get ranked so high and now we know we’re just as good.”
That confidence could be an important factor in a huge three-game stretch to close out the season.
The Mocs face a rematch with Rollins and a visit to third-ranked Limestone, which bookend a meeting with Lenoir-Rhyne.
The Mocs will likely need to win two, if not all three, of the games in order to reach the NCAA Tournament.
Reber believes her young squad will hold up just fine under the pressure of three contests that could ultimately decide its postseason fate.
“Even against Rollins, our sophomores and freshmen weren’t phased,” Reber said. “They’re doing just fine. They don’t know what to expect so they just go out and play.”
While the youth of the players may not play a factor, the youth of the program could hurt the team’s chances of a postseason appearance.
According to Reber, other schools that already have an established reputation could be chosen in place of her team, even if the Mocs have a better record.
“We’ve always felt that if we want to go to the postseason, we need to exceed expectations and come as close to going undefeated as possible, because our reputation just isn’t there yet,” Reber said.
Sophomore Co-Captain Lorianne Hoover thinks the lack of respect the Mocs get as a new program has given them an edge this season.
“I feel like that’s why we beat a lot of teams,” Hoover said. “They come into games thinking it will be an easy game and don’t prepare well enough. Then we beat them.”
“People definitely doubt us because we’re a new program and we’re from the south, but they shouldn’t,” Halstead said.
Surprising opponents as they build a reputation for the program has served as a point of pride for the young Mocs squad.
“It’s about being able to say that we made history as part of a new program instead of playing in a program that’s already established,” Hoover said. “It’s really cool.”
As the next three contests, especially Rollins and Limestone, stand between the Mocs and the next step in building the program’s reputation, Hoover believes the playoff bid is anyone’s for the taking.
“It all depends on who shows up that day because all of the teams are so close in our talent and our records,” Hoover said. “We really just have to prepare and show up ready to play, but I don’t have a doubt that we can beat both [Rollins and Limestone.]”
Reber and the Mocs are concentrating on one game at a time, as they try to bolster their NCAA Tournament resume.
“Obviously we’d love to win a national championship, but the first step is to win our next game and get ourselves into the NCAA Tournament,” Reber said. “Then we can go from there.”
The Mocs will begin what could be the biggest stretch in the fledgling program’s history on April 28, where the rematch with Rollins awaits.
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