Lacrosse will enter its final game of conference play owning the team’s most Atlantic 10 wins in four years – but the team still lies on the cusp of postseason play.
The Colonials’ (5–11, 3–5 A-10) 18–8 win against VCU last week earned the team three wins on the season – the most conference wins in four years. GW is now in a three-way tie for sixth in the conference, just within reach of the A-10 Championship.
“We need to operate more from a point of, ‘we can do it,’” head coach Tracy Coyne said. “I think we need to look for more reasons why we can and less reasons why we can’t.”
GW could have clinched a spot in the A-10 Championship with a win against Duquesne Friday, but the squad’s loss delayed the team’s hope of making the tournament.
“The most challenging part of A-10 play is how every team is competing for a spot in the tournament,” junior defender Caroline Kiernan said in an email. “Our opponents in the A-10 challenge us to compete and each game is exciting, fast-paced and a challenge.”
Last season, the Colonials jumped out to a 7–1 nonconference record. But once the squad began taking on conference competition, the Colonials stumbled, losing seven of nine games to end the season with a 9–8 overall record.
Heading into conference play this year, GW held a 2–6 nonconference record. GW rallied after opening A-10 play with a 13–7 loss to La Salle, capturing a close 12–11 win over Davidson and a 16–5 victory over St. Bonaventure.
“We had a really tough season before A-10 play,” freshman midfielder Tori Hampton said. “Our first game hit us hard. We weren’t the team that we are now.”
Players said the Colonials’ efficient offense has been key to the team’s success in conference play this year, and the team can spread its scoring wealth among players because players have multiple scoring options at their disposal.
The Colonials’ 75.7 shots-on-goal percentage makes GW the fourth-most efficient shooting team in the conference. Junior midfielder Katie Quinn leads the team with 14 goals in conference play and Hampton and junior attacker Morgan McDonnell trail closely behind with 12 and 11 goals, respectively.
“I think we’re just really dynamic, we have so many threats,” junior midfielder Aidan Cage said. “When we keep our spacing and just do the little things, we can rely on anyone.”
Cage said the team is doubling down on execution, focus and strategy despite experiencing end-of-season fatigue as GW’s conference schedule comes to a close Saturday.
“The mindset is just to take every game one by one when we go out there,” she said.
The Colonials have also bolstered their defense and have 249 turnovers this season, the second-lowest mark in conference play.
The squad has one more game on deck against Massachusetts – the top-ranked team in the conference – before the season ends. Massachusetts has been perfect in conference play, winning all seven of its A-10 contests.
Coyne said the traditionally strong Massachusetts squad appears more “vulnerable” this season as its games have wrapped up with closer scores than in past seasons.
“They are like a perennial powerhouse. They have success on the national level,” Coyne said. “They haven’t been experiencing that success this season, so I think it’s anyone’s game.”
The Colonials return to action against Massachusetts Saturday at noon.