With the end of the fall semester quickly approaching, the start of spring sports — including Lacrosse — is on the horizon.
As a developing program, Lacrosse players and coaches are eager for the season to start and potentially build a foundation.
“Our expectations are high for the season, because this is our fourth year as a program,” coach Jen O’Brien said. “We are very upperclassmen-heavy, and we will rely on their experience.”
With confidence in its roster, VCU chose a challenging out-of-conference schedule — adding two games against teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference, widely considered the best in women’s lacrosse.
VCU will host Notre Dame on March 13. To end the season the team will travel to face off against the Duke Blue Devils. VCU opens the 2019 campaign with three games against teams they lost to last season: UMBC, Old Dominion and Longwood.
Being a young program, players have been prompted into roles they may not have been ready for in Lacrosse’s first three seasons. But now, the team finally has a full roster to pick from.
“I would say the biggest difference between this year’s team and last year’s team is, we can allow our freshmen to just be freshmen,” O’Brien said. “We’re not going have to make them fill roles they’re not ready to play. Also, we have a chip on our shoulder, because we achieved our two goals last season of making the [Atlantic 10] tournament and beating UMass.”
Team captains redshirt-senior midfielder Sky Hyatt and senior attacker Molly Barcikowski lead the way for the team. Both were selected to the A-10 All-Conference team last season.
“I was very happy being selected, it shows VCU is up there with the other good teams in the A-10,” Barcikowski said. “[It] shows the work me and the team puts in is being recognized unlike in our first year as a program.”
O’Brien said what is so unique about this team is how close they are and the chemistry they have on and off the field.
“She is our role model and we just value what she says,” Hyatt said of her coach. “I like how she always has a bigger picture behind a decision she makes.”
O’Brien said team unity is evident in reactions from the bench. The sideline is very active and always cheering on those who are on the field. When attending games, fans should look to the sideline for the energy that they bring each game.
“Our sideline has a ton of energy. Our players on the field feed off the sideline, and the sideline feeds off the players on the field,” O’Brien said. “It goes into how we play which is fast, a lot of energy and you can tell our girls are having fun while playing. On our best day, we should be playing in the NCAA tournament, no doubt. But it’s only if we can be consistent and bring up our low moments to match our high moments.”
The Lacrosse season begins Feb. 13 at home against ODU.
Nile McNair Contributing Writer