The University of Indianapolis women’s lacrosse team brought home the NCAA Division II National Championship on May 22, 2022, according to UIndy Athletics. Months later, the title defense began on Feb. 11, 2023, with the Greyhounds winning 18-1 against Concordia University, St. Paul. Graduate student defender Kara Antonucci said the team has a hunger to compete for another championship, especially the chance to retain the title at Key Stadium.
“Our top goal is [to] win another national championship…especially [since] we’re gonna be hosting it this year,” Antonucci said. “It would be really awesome, especially for me, and I know, the older girls [too], [to] win our last games on our field.”
In her first season with the Greyhounds, Women’s Lacrosse Head Coach Elaine Jones said the hunger to win is something you could see more of as the season goes on. Similarly, Jones said she has seen the competitive spirit and wants to win within the team in her quick time on the team so far.
“[The team is] all bought into wanting to defend their title and repeat as national champions. They’re committed, they work hard at practices,” Jones said. “I think they all understand that it’s going to take a lot to achieve their goal, but they all know what the goal is. And so they’re drawn together by this is, this is our end game, this is our goal. They’re working hard even from day one to achieve that.”
Jones said she has warned her team about competition wanting to defeat the champions. Therefore, the team will have to be prepared for these challenges to come.
“I’ve told them they have a target on their backs, no more than the Division I or Division III champs…” Jones said. “Everyone wants to be the one to dethrone the champions. And you have to have a really mentally tough mindset, you have to know what you’re going into…, and so when you step on that field, mentally and physically, you have to be prepared and ready to battle.”
In order to reach this point again, Antonucci said the team has focused on growing together on and off the field. Having each other’s backs has been an important key to success, according to Antonucci.
“I definitely [feel like] [we have] done everything we can to keep this team close,” Antonucci said. “And not only close on the field, [but also] off the field, making sure everyone’s involved, no matter if you’re a freshman, or a fifth year, we’re always together… We’re trying to build a new culture, and a very positive together[ness] kind of culture.”
In addition to building the culture of the team this year, Jones said they have been working on stick skills to prepare for the season. Adjusting to new challenges and changes has been at the forefront of the season, according to Antonucci and Jones.
“I think getting them in game shape [is the most important thing]; first and foremost, stick skills, we’ve been working on that, and then shoring up our offense, defense [and] our draw positions,” Jones said. “Obviously, they lost a really talented draw taker from last year, and so who’s going to fill in that gap over 200 drawers is a lot and [they] also lost some big scorers… So adjusting to a different way the offense might have to run is something we’ve been focusing on. I think the defense is strong, obviously led by Kara [Antonucci] and Audrey [Moran] in goal, which I think is great. So, I think we’ve been focusing on every aspect of the game as best we can, starting with fitness.”
Jones said at the end of practices she asks her team about how they thought the practice went based on a scale of one to 10. If there are low numbers on how practice went, she said they try to fix those problems.
“I always check with them at the end of practice, ‘How do you think you did today? Where are we on a scale of one to 10?,’” Jones said. “If I’m hearing fives and sixes, I’m like, Well, that wasn’t good. We haven’t had [a] five. You want to be up there, I think 7.5 eights nines. That’s what we’re working towards.”
Antonucci said that she has been thankful for those involved in the program in the years she has been here. Since tasting victory in the national championship, Antonucci said she is looking forward to competing to win the championship again.
“I think it’s also great, having those older girls who would have done that [won] the championship, so we can kind of bring the younger girls with us… come along and we hopefully can all do this together,” Anontucci said. “It definitely is though once you do it you want it again because you know you can…
It takes hard work and if you love the game and you have a passion for the game, putting in that hard work isn’t really hard work. It’s just doing something you love every day.”