Olivia Dileo, Contributing Writer
Last season, the VCU women’s lacrosse team had a record of seven wins and nine losses. The team came close to qualifying for the Atlantic 10 tournament, but fell to Davidson College 17-10, at the end of the spring 2021 season.
Junior attacker Juliana George said that for this upcoming spring season, the talent of players along with the new coaching staff will help the team produce a winning record and pursue success.
“The coaches want to make it to the A-10 just as much as we do, and even though it’s their first year, they are in it and ready to go and they are acting like they’ve been a part of the team forever,” George said.
Nicole Flores was recently picked as the team’s new head coach. She has worked in various collegiate assistant coaching roles for over 10 years, according to the VCU Athletics website.
Flores is also the second head coach in the team’s six-year history, replacing former head coach Jen O’Brien.
“I wanted to become a coach at VCU because of the outstanding support staff that was highlighted throughout my interview process,” Flores stated.
The core values of the coaches this season to help the team grow are trust, bravery and community support within the city of Richmond, according to Flores.
With new coaches coming in, George sees the team being successful and having a “good shot at a winning record this season.”
“So far I think they’ve been great, they bring the intensity to our team, our team needs structure and they give us that; being able to know they are going to push us, and want us to succeed and be the best team and are there for us is great,” George said.
In August, VCU Athletics also hired Maggie Chizmar as the new assistant coach, who has previous coaching experience at Babson College, in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Earlier this year, Chizmar and the women’s lacrosse team at Babson College won the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference Championship, and were able to secure an appearance in the 2021 NCAA tournament.
“I think my experience has been unique, I’ve been extremely fortunate to coach at I think six different institutions, each one different but amazing in it’s own way,” Chizmar stated. “I’ve been able to come to teams that aren’t developing, and I’ve been really fortunate to be successful and have opportunities to play in final fours and conference championships, so it’s been a really fun journey.”
On top of boasting a new coaching staff, the Rams will also feature several returning players that were recognized by the A-10 for contributions and performance last season, including George and sophomore midfielder Kelsey McDonnell.
McDonnell was named to the A-10 All-Rookie Team last season with two assists, 20 draw controls and nine ground balls. McDonnell was also third in goals, ultimately accumulating 27 goals, adding up to 59 points in total.
George was named A-10 Offensive Player of the Week for her part in the victory over Radford on Feb. 24, when she tied the VCU school record for total points in a game, at 10. By the end of the season, George had a total of 57 points, according to the VCU Athletics website.
George said the A-10 recognition is a “huge accomplishment,” because it signals that other teams perceive the players as a threat on the field and that the conference sees those athletes as impactful players.
The Rams have the goal of making it to the A-10 tournament to win the championship through making progress as individual athletes or working together to beat opponents, according to McDonnell.
“We want to see at any point this year progress, whether it’s shooting percentage going up individually or team-wise, or beating a team we haven’t beat before — just making adjustments that will then make us successful,” McDonnell said.
Among the Rams’ undefeated opponents are teams like Virginia Tech, Furman University and University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Another highly anticipated opponent will be Davidson College, as the Rams seek to avenge the loss which cost them a place in the A-10 tournament last season.
Women’s lacrosse has not released their spring schedule as of Nov. 2, according to VCU Athletics spokesperson Evan Nicely.
“I think this is going to be a big year for us as a team. We have always had talent on this team, and with the new coaching staff taking it up a notch intensity wise,” George said. “We were just short of making the tournament last year, so I think this year we are going to make it and be a team people don’t want on their schedules.”
Copy Editor Rachel Rivenbark contributed to this report.