Photo by Sam Penizotto

After a surprising 12-4 finish in its inaugural campaign last year, the Florida Southern College women’s lacrosse team looks to continue the growth of the program in 2013.

The new season will bring new challenges for the Mocs, led by head coach Kara Reber. In addition to facing unfamiliar opponents, the Mocs will also lose the luxury of sneaking up on teams like they did last year, according to Reber.

“We have to work even harder in practice because [the talent that we have] is not a secret anymore,” Reber said. “It’s hard to know how well we’ll do this year because we almost play nobody that is the same as we played last year.”

While she believes last year’s schedule was tough compared to that of a typical first-year program, Reber thinks this year’s slate is even more challenging.

“I definitely think it’s tougher,” Reber said. “I know we play a lot of teams that were in the top 15 last year and some other really strong opponents. So that should help us to make a difference on whether or not we get into the NCAA Tournament and improve our strength of schedule.”

The Mocs will look to navigate the tough schedule with a very young group. Of the 24 players on the active roster, 20 are freshman or sophomores. Despite the youth, Reber feels confident with the talent she will put on the field.

“I’m excited. I don’t think we have quite the numbers that I’d like to have, but talent wise its phenomenal,” Reber said. “I think everybody is strong, anyone could start on a given day. There’s not one girl on this team that I’d be afraid to put in, even against the number one team in the country.”

More troublesome to Reber than the team’s youth is the lack of numbers on the sidelines. Having only a 24-player roster could present some obstacles for Reber and her staff to overcome in practice.

“I think numbers wise it just hurts because, once we have injuries and things like that, it just becomes difficult to do full-field scrimmages, not having enough healthy people,” Reber said. “But like a player on my team said, ‘You need 12 people to play the game and we still have 12.’”

Despite all of the obstacles facing the Mocs in the young program’s second year, Reber still has lofty goals for her squad.

“Our goal is definitely to get to the NCAA Tournament,” Reber said. “We want to be in the top part of Division II.”

The Mocs are off to a promising start after defeating the Haudenosaunee Nation 15-14 in a Jan. 24 exhibition game on Barnett Field. After another exhibition against the Scottish National Team, Reber and the Mocs will open up the regular season on Feb. 17 when they take on Molloy at Bryant Stadium.

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