As the Great Lakes Valley Conference and NCAA tournaments approach, the University of Indianapolis women’s lacrosse team is currently ranked No. 6 in the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association, according to UIndy Athletics. The GLVC tournament begins on April 28. Junior attacker Joey Fowler said the season has ultimately been very exciting, despite changes in the coaching staff and players transferring at the start of the season.
“It’s [tournament season] also pretty nerve-wracking for our team, especially because we’ve had so many changes in the last year,” Fowler said. “So it’s a little different feeling than it has been in the past, but definitely exciting. And I think we’re anxious to get to the championships.”
Head Coach Elaine Jones said these changes were part of a rocky start to the season, creating a lot of challenges for the team as they got to know the new coaching staff and the underclassmen on the team moved up into more leadership roles after losing three senior starters to injury. Additionally, the team was ranked No. 8 in the IWLCA preseason polls back in January, according to UIndy Athletics, and Jones said this served as a wake-up call.
“This team is not last year’s team…,” Jones said. “We were ranked low for a team winning the national championship; to be ranked eighth I think was a little reality check for the players, like, ‘Hey, this is going to be an uphill battle.’ I think we faced adversity throughout the season…. We’re just ready to prove ourselves.”
There have definitely been obstacles, Jones said, and she tries her best to listen to the team’s suggestions, as she considers herself mild-mannered and easygoing. Additionally, Jones said she expressed her own perspective at times but gives the team leeway to show their own creativity, resulting in a successful collaborative effort. In spite of that, Fowley said they can be a stubborn group of girls but Jones overcame that.
“Seventy-five percent of our team right now is returners,” Fowley said. “And we’ve had the same program for three years. So it was a challenge to switch over, but a lot of our girls are loud-mouthed and proud of what they think so it definitely took some change to start fitting into this new program that’s changed for the better. And we’ve definitely changed some good things in terms of culture…. We’ve got some loud personalities.”
Jones said she felt the freshmen and sophomore on the team had to step up and take on more responsibilities to fill those extra spots. These players did not have a chance to be freshmen on the team and take the time to hone their skills as they had to play their best from the beginning, Jones said. And while the goal has always been to defend the title and win the championship, there is still improvement to be made before then, she said. According to Fowler, this also includes working on the chemistry among the offensive players.
“To win the conference tournament and things that we’re going to need to do is, I think offensively [is to] still continue to improve our motions and sets and our execution,” Jones said. “Defense, we’re still working in a couple players. We’re working our one senior we lost back into the defense. So every day we’re working on every part of our game. Just making sure we cover the details that it’s going to take for us to be successful to achieve the goal of winning the conference.”