Feb. 7, 2014
By Marya Fratoni
STORRS, Conn. - With its first game just around the corner, there is a ton resting on this season for the UConn women’s lacrosse team. Coming off of their best, record-breaking season to date, the Huskies are determined to make their mark in the BIG EAST and in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in as many seasons.
The preseason accolades administered to the team have sparked a good amount of excitement amongst the Huskies. Senior captain Lauren Kahn was named the BIG EAST Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and was also unanimously selected to the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team along with fellow captain Kacey Pippitt and sophomore goalkeeper Shannon Nee. Additionally, the Huskies were picked to finish second behind Georgetown in the BIG EAST this season in a Preseason Coaches’ Poll released in January. Louisville and Rutgers rounded out the top half of the poll, respectively.
“Since I have been here, UConn has always flown under the radar and people just skip over us a lot of times,” said Kahn. “But honestly, in my opinion, we are the best team in the BIG EAST and I think we are going to shock a lot of people this year.”
With the realignment of conferences in the past year, numerous high-ranking teams are no longer a part of the BIG EAST. This means an even higher expectation for the Huskies to go far in the BIG EAST Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. However UConn lacrosse coach Katie Woods, the 2013 BIG EAST Coach of the Year, seems confident that her team will live up to these expectations. Woods knows exactly what strategies to continue from last year and which to change in order to get her team to play to its maximum potential.
“I think we found a lot of success last year when we put attacking units out of their comfort zone and made them make adjustments,” said Woods. “Some of them had a hard time with it, and it allowed us to put the attack under a lot more pressure. On the attack, we have some different looks and, as always, we want to spread it around and have every person that steps over that restraining line be a threat to cage.”
While there are feelings of excitement as for the Huskies as they approach the season, they also carry a heavy weight with them due to the death of their friend and teammate Brittney Testa. Ultimately, the already-close team was brought even closer in light of this recent tragedy. In honor of their fallen teammate, the team dedicates their season to Testa and will wear red laces every game as well as her number on their red stick-heads.
“Because she was so greatly loved, it brought the team that much closer to support one another and to help each other through this tough and emotional time,” said Nee. “We were always planning on playing hard this year, but dedicating this season to her will make us push harder and get further in the season. We know she would expect nothing less. Anything for the princess.”
Overall, the team goes into this season very confident in its ability as a whole, as well as the individual talents demonstrated by each player.
“We want to have the best season this program has ever had,” said Pippitt. “We have an amazing team with some amazing players and together I think we can reach all the goals we’ve set.”
It’s safe to say that the UConn women’s lacrosse team is determined to make it count this season.