The live stream read out ‘watch out for Tampa,’ according to sophomore midfielder Mackenzie Perna. Even though they didn’t defeat the fifth ranked team in the nation, the women’s lacrosse team aims to make those words ring true this season.
The team clinched their first win of the season on Sunday, Feb. 22 against Newberry College during their weekend of matches in South Carolina. The Spartans began their weekend against No. 5 Limestone College on Friday, where they fell to a score of 6-18. Despite the loss, the team uses the upset to recognize how to improve and how to show opponents that a “young team” does not necessarily mean an inexperienced one.
“As a team, we are trying to lose the ‘young team stigma,’” Perna said. “We want to prove you don’t need to be an old program to win games.”
The Spartans proved this to be true in their next match against Newberry, where they pulled away with a victory of 17-7. Freshman Christina Burroughs, sophomore Amanda Voges and Perna lead the team with three goals apiece. Although their offensive attack was more successful in their match against Newberry than Limestone, the difference in score truly lied in their high number of assists and draw controls, according to Perna.
The Spartans led Newberry in assists 12 to four, and with a total of 22 total face-off wins, they bested Newberry by 18, thus allowing them to take the offensive position more successfully.
“Draws are very important to our team because when we win the draw and gain possession, it helps our team gain the momentum,” said freshman midfielder Amanda Rom, who is the primary face-off player. “We need to go straight to offense and score a goal. Our team likes to push the ball forward and have a fast break, we use the momentum off the draw to get ahead of our opponents.”
The Friday match against Limestone was the Spartans’ second time playing a ranked team this semester, as they competed against and fell to No. 18 Rollins College on Feb. 8. Despite the loss, however, the progression from Rollins to Limestone to Newberry has been noteworthy, according to Rom. The team has consistently been focusing on becoming more successful in terms of stats with every new match.
“We played a ranked team on Friday and during this game we made a statement that Tampa lacrosse is improving every time we step onto the field,” Rom said. “We had our first win on Sunday, this game is a turning point in this season. We dominated the field the entire 60 minutes.”
In order to keep improving, the team notes the importance of maintaining unity on the field, especially through future matches against nationally ranked teams. Although the team is composed of a wide assortment of individually talented players, the challenge ultimately comes down to finding a successful method of collaboration. This weekend of play showed the Spartans where this aspect both thrived and faltered.
“We saw more chemistry in our Limestone game I would say, particularly on the defensive end,” Perna said. “[However], Limestone, being ranked fifth in the nation, has a very strong team offense. In the Newberry game, we had more time to control the ball on our offensive side.”
Although Limestone was the last ranked team that the Spartans are scheduled to face in the regular season, it is likely for the team to see this type of competition again if future victories bring them to compete in the Sunshine State Conference Tournament beginning on April 24. The women’s lacrosse team will continue their season on Mar. 4 against Wheeling Jesuit University.
Tess Sheets can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org