The UVa-Wise women’s lacrosse team looks to build off a 2016 season in which they went 11-5 overall, 4-3 in conference play and made it to the conference tournament for the second straight year.
Head Coach Meghan Dennehy’s team will strive to obtain a birth in the Mountain East Conference championship game after finishing third in the conference last season.
When asked of her expectations for the team this season, Coach Dennehy said, “My expectation is to finish at least second in the conference, our goal is to get to that MEC Championship game.”
“We are only a third-year program so we are staying humble by taking baby steps on getting there, just because we’re still growing and learning every day.”
Some key players returning this season are Rachel Cole, Hannah Marshall, Lauren Donahue and Melanie Reilly. Cole led the Cavs last season with 42 points and a .578 shooting percentage. Marshall added 29 points of her own and a respectable .537 shooting percentage.
Donahue and Reilly shined on the defensive side of the ball as Donahue tallied 28 groundballs and 15 caused turnovers. Reilly scooped up 42 groundballs while cementing herself as one of the best goalies in the MEC.
“I think that Mel Reilly, our goalie, is definitely the backbone of our defense and she’s proven in the last two years how important she is to this team,” Dennehy stated in response to which players stand out early on.
“Our three captains really show their leadership on the field; I think Rocky (Rachel) Cole has been strong not just on attack but at seeing the whole field, we’ve got Hannah Marshall in the midfield making plays both on offense and defense and Lauren (Donahue) on the defensive end causing turnovers,” Dennehy continued.
While Coach Dennehy spoke highly of some of the veteran leaders on the team, she also stressed the importance of team chemistry.
After being asked about some of the strengths of her team, Dennehy said, “Team chemistry, culture. I think that we really promote improving by one percent each day, every practice, every game, so that’s kind of what we’re looking for more than the wins and losses.”
“We really try to just focus on being better than everyone else in the smaller categories so that we can eventually get to the big win.”
Team chemistry should be a strong suit as the Cavs will enter this season with a balanced team. Coach Dennehy estimated that there were about six players in each grade level on the team.
“We have great leaders among our junior class, but that’s not to say we don’t have just as much leadership among our sophomore and freshman class. I am excited to see players from those classes continue to grow,” Dennehy stated.
UVa-Wise will open their season February 22 against Tusculum College at 5 p.m. in Greenville, Tenn.