Women's Lacrosse |
March 9, 2009
By MARK SCHMETZER
Lindsey Marshall had never before been part of starting a new athletic program, but so far, she likes the feeling.
The University of Cincinnati senior is leading the Bearcats' lacrosse program into the second season of its life this spring, and even though they won just two of 14 matches last season, she is enjoying the building process.
"It's really exciting," said Marshall, a midfielder who became the program's first-ever scoring leader by racking up 32 points on 30 goals and two assists last season. "Normally, when you join a team, there's already a tradition. This way, we get to start it all. The culture of the team is ours. It's what we make of it."
Marshall and her teammates hope to start making it more of a winning culture this season. They open their 2009 schedule with four road games before playing their home opener March 8 vs. Villanova at Nippert Stadium.
Second-year coach Lellie Swords has added 14 freshmen to UC's roster for its first season of competition in the BIG EAST. She expects the freshmen and the team's 11 sophomores will have to make significant contributions to any progress the program makes this year.
"The way we run the program, we run a lot of subs in and out," Swords said. "We're asking the freshmen and sophomores to play older than they are."
One sophomore who proved last season that she's capable of producing at the level of a more experienced player is midfielder Lynsey Burton, who finished second on the team in scoring with 22 points on 19 goals and three assists.
Swords also was hoping for similar production from another sophomore, Jamie Desautels. The attacker led the team with seven assists last season and also scored 10 goals, but she'll miss this season with a knee injury. Despite her absence, Marshall believes UC's offense can improve over last season.
"I think, last year, our biggest problems were on offense," said Marshall, who transferred to UC after Ohio University disbanded its lacrosse program. "We were playing as individuals instead of as a team -- driving instead of passing. With the caliber of teams we're playing this year, we can't depend on playing as a bunch of individuals. I've already noticed that we're passing a lot more -- passing inside more and not just driving -- and the players our coaches brought in have some really good feeders. The level of lacrosse we're playing is better than last year, when we had more of a hodgepodge of players."
Swords is enjoying having more players at her disposal.
"Obviously, this being our second year, we have a lot more depth," she said. "I like having more bodies on the team. We can scrimmage, and I like our enthusiasm and attitude and competitiveness. I would say our depth is a huge improvement. We have depth at midfield, and we can use a lot of different looks."
Marshall is looking forward to sneaking up on opponents who see UC's record from last season and start looking toward their next opponents. The Bearcats were picked to finish last in the eight-team BIG EAST in a poll of conference coaches. Syracuse, which will host UC on March 29, was picked to win the championship.
"I think last year we had a really tough schedule for a first-year team," Marshall said. "We played some really tough teams, but playing in the BIG EAST, you're going to be exposed to those tough teams. I think our schedule's tough, but we're up to the challenge. The only way to get better is to play better teams. I think we'll be up there.
"We definitely have a chip on our shoulder, at least I do," Marshall added. "After going 2-14, I don't see how we couldn't. After last year, we want to prove to the BIG EAST lacrosse community that they'll have to watch out for Cincinnati."
"Everyone feels that this is our real first year," Swords said. "Last year was a lot of fun, and we developed ourselves as a family. Now we've had more practice and preparation. This is our first year in the BIG EAST. Now we're ready to show what we're made of."
(This story was previously printed in the Bearcat Sports Digest.)