As the beginning of their season draws nearer, the women’s lacrosse team is preparing for their second year as a program at UT. The season looks promising, according to head coach Kelly Gallagher, as the returning players from last year bring with them a level of experience that wasn’t there before.
“We have some more depth and some different positions and we have some experience,” Gallagher said. “We have girls who have played college lacrosse before and were very successful doing it for us last year.”
As the girls work toward relieving their team from the assumption of being a “young program,” and from the amateur connotation that that title presents, they pride themselves on working harder than ever.
Their spring schedule consists of matches against top regional opponents such as Florida Southern University, Pfieffer University and Limestone College, which are all currently ranked teams according to the Lacrosse Magazine poll. These have all been tough opponents for the Spartans since the start of their program. However, this season they are hoping to prove themselves.
“We have a completely new group of girls this year and we’ve been working extremely hard so we’re ready to prove all this to everyone,” said senior midfielder Kirsten Brierley. “We strive to always empty our tanks, and we hold each other accountable for little things because if one person is working her hardest she’s making everyone around her work harder.”
In fact, this is the first season that the Sunshine State Conference (SSC) will be sponsoring women’s lacrosse, and the girls are making it their mission to compete in the SSC tournament come April, according to Gallagher. In order to do this, the team must make it out of their conference in the top four of the five teams.
“This January, we’ve really been focusing on being a fast-paced and aggressive team,” Gallagher said. “We’ve been focusing on applying a high-pressure defense and trusting each other, playing as a team.”
Along with technical skills, the team puts a lot of focus on their mindset when it comes to team chemistry. Positivity is an aspect that the girls say they have improved since last season, and the results have been beneficial in improving the overall dynamic on and off the field.
“Everyone’s attitude this year is way more positive, and we are more connected as a whole,” Brierley said. “We have a lot more faith and trust in each other this year as well, which helps us perform successfully on and off the field.”
Along with the right mindset and ample improvement of skill, the team brings a strong desire for success that will surely aid them in their goals to compete in the conference tournament. They are eager to move past their underdog status and show off their improvements.
“Our mindset is to enter every game with the goal of winning, but we’re definitely hoping to top all the teams in our conference,” Brierley said. “There’s some animosity there, which we love because it makes us give that much more effort in practice so we’re ready for when those game days come.”
With all the right pieces in place, there is little stopping the Spartans as they begin their spring season. Experience, hard work and skilled athletes are what will bring the team success and allow them to realize their goals, both short and long term.
“The one thing that’s really great about this team is that they all see the field,” Gallagher said. “They all play lacrosse very well so they want to play a fast-paced game, they want to push the fast break offensively and they want to continue to improve from last year.”
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