As the only spring sport already competing in outdoor home games, lacrosse has dealt with some challenging weather.
Snow and hail poured onto the Mount Vernon field Saturday as GW played its home opener against Longwood. The precipitation affected the action on both sides, but Colonials players said they were mentally prepared for the conditions because they have placed a focus on toughness and intensity early in the season.
Longwood fell behind early in the contest and never caught up as GW (2-0) defeated the Lancers 16–8. Eight different Colonials scored and nearly every rostered player found time on the field.
“I was really pleased with our shooting because their goalie is amazing,” head coach Tracy Coyne said. “We were very unselfish with the ball and we created a lot of opportunities through our ball movement and being willing to hit the open player.”
The victory marked the first time in the program’s 17-year history that GW has won both of their first two contests of the season. Before this season, the team’s four seniors have only won five non-conference games in their entire career, so getting consecutive wins was a stark change of pace.
“It says a lot for the growth of the program,” Coyne said. “I think the seniors in particular understand how disappointing it’s been to lose.”
Last year, the Colonials finished 3-13 – the worst record in program history – and started the season with five consecutive losses. Although GW’s record has gotten worse in each of the past five years, Coyne said the team built off tight results from last year to help them learn what it takes to close out games.
“We lost a lot of close games last year,” Coyne said. “We almost tasted victory so I think we are even more committed.”
Saturday’s victory gave the Colonials a measuring stick for their improvement. During the eight-goal loss, Longwood never looked in control after defeating GW in Farmville, Va. last February.
The Colonials offense has outscored its opponents 34-15 and led in nearly every statistical category.
After securing a winning record in exhibition play in the fall, players said the newfound early success has been earned as they matured in the offseason.
“It is showing a culture change that we are really focusing on. We are more of a team now,” senior attacker Jocelyn Donohue said. “We toughened up a lot.”
GW lost four of their top five scorers to graduation, but the team has followed the direction of its young players and looked for offensive production from more members of the team. Eleven different Colonials players have found the scoreboard through the first two games, including two freshmen and six sophomores.
Senior attacker Cameryn Kerns – one of GW’s four seniors and the team’s top scorer – said the young members have impressed her with both ability and willingness to buy into the team’s intensity.
“There are only four of us and there are a lot more underclassmen, but they are all so talented and have been contributing a lot and they work hard,” Kerns said. “It is really easy to lead people who are very open to listen and implement things we work on in practice.”
Players said they aren’t satisfied with the early success and their record start to the season doesn’t mean much if they aren’t able to pick up more wins in conference play.
“We know what we are capable of,” Donohue said. “By no means are we done, we haven’t hit our maximum, we aren’t even close. So we are just going to keep getting better every day and I can’t wait to see the team we can be once we get to A-10 play.”
Coyne – who is 15-36 in her fourth year at the helm – will be looking for GW’s first winning record in five years.
“We are going to enjoy this a little bit, we don’t have this feeling too often,” Coyne said. “But the mindset is to win one game at a time.”
The Colonials return to action on the road Saturday, looking for their third consecutive victory against Monmouth at 3 p.m.