March 19, 2014
DAVIS, Calif. -
Following a weekend of road Mountain Pacific Sports Federation games and five days worth of final examinations, the UC Davis women's lacrosse team returns to action on Saturday in home action against Towson. This is the Aggies' first-ever meeting with the 18th-ranked Tigers, who compete in the Colonial Athletic Association.
UC Davis (5-2) endured extreme contrasts in halves during the two road contests, a disappointing weekend that followed what had been the best start to an Aggie season since 2010.
According to second-year head coach Kate Henwood, the weekend losses provided a wake-up call for her team. Even during their 5-0 start, the Aggies had not always brought their `A' game. "I think we were making a lot of mistakes and we were blinded by the W's. It was hard to know how detrimental those mistakes were because we were getting away with winning. This weekend, we made the same mistakes and we didn't get away with them."
On Friday, USC stormed out to an 11-0 lead through 27 minutes of play, only to have the Aggies finish on a 10-4 run. On Sunday, UC Davis crafted a 5-2 lead in the first 24 minutes, only to surrender a 15-3 finish by host San Diego State. This disappointing weekend followed what had been a 5-0 start, the best to an Aggie season since 2010.
"We showed a lot of grit, and that's something we continued to do over the weekend," said Henwood. "However, sometimes you need more than just grit. You need to execute well. The grittiness might will a ball into the net in that last minute when you need it, but you need to be able to execute all of the small things throughout the game in order for it to come down to grit."
Individually, junior midfielder Elizabeth Landry scored 12 goals with 22 draw controls during the four-game week. Sophomore Mary Doyle delivered in the midfield with eight ground balls, 10 draw controls and a team-leading five caused turnovers. Senior Allie Lehner paced the back line with eight ground balls for the week. Sophomore Ellie Delich, who managed just two goals in the opening weekend, broke through with 8-for-9 shooting for the week, including hat tricks against Siena and Robert Morris. But as a whole, the Aggies struggled in transition against USC (6-for-10 clears) and dipped to .267 shooting at San Diego State
"We had a disappointing weekend, obviously, but we are trying to hit the refresh button, put the past behind us, and focus on what we need to do moving forward to achieve our goals," Henwood said. "It's still possible. It's will be a little harder than it would have been had we taken care of business last weekend, but it's possible. Our backs are against the wall but we always play better in that scenario."
In Towson, UC Davis faces its highest-rated opponent of the year thus far. The Tigers hold a deceiving 3-4 overall record, disguised by a brutally tough schedule: five of their first seven opponents were ranked in the top 20. A February 22 victory over then-No. 10 Georgetown vaulted Towson five places to No. 15 in the national coaches' poll, then an impressive battle with No. 2 Syracuse a week later moved the needle another four places.
Additionally, the Tigers play the brand of lacrosse Henwood has worked to infuse into her own program as it continues to grow into an MPSF contender: "Towson is a very aggressive, dynamic, in-your-face team. They're gritty and they move the ball really well. Their defense is extremely physical. It's an East Coast team with a lot of Maryland and mid-Atlantic players, who eat, sleep and breathe lax."
The Tigers suffered an 8-7 overtime loss with UC Davis' 19th-ranked leaguemate Stanford on March 7, then broke the losing skid with a 13-5 home win over Monmouth last Saturday. Towson will face California before driving up Interstate 80 for Saturday's game. Junior attacker Andi Raymond leads the offense with 17 goals and 12 assists while preseason CAA Player of the Year Ashleigh Rohrback trails close behind with a 13-14-27 offensive chart. Senior midfielder Katie Leach boasts 12 ground balls, 15 draw controls and seven steals while junior goalkeeper Kelsea Donnelly owns a .535 save percentage (68 saves, 59 goals against).
Saturday not only represents the first meeting with Towson but only the second with a CAA member: the Aggies made a valiant upset bid against Drexel on March 30 of last season, eventually falling by a 9-7 final.
First draw at Aggie Stadium is 5 p.m. Admission is free for all home women's lacrosse games.
QUICK STICKS: Junior Elizabeth Landry leads UC Davis with 30 draw controls in seven games this season, bringing her career total to 163 -- just seven behind Hannah Mirza's school record of 170... Landry already holds the season record of 72, set in 2012; and the single-game benchmark of 12, against Long Island her freshman year... Junior Meghan Jordan inched closer to Megan O'Connor (2004-07) for ninth on the career assists leaderboard... She has nine for the season and 45 for her career... Saturday not only represents the first meeting with Towson but only the second with a CAA member: the Aggies made a valiant upset bid against Drexel on March 30 of last season, eventually falling by a 9-7 final... Speaking of upsets, UC Davis has performed well in its last two games against Top 20 foes: a 13-11 loss to No. 20 Denver on Apr. 7 and the season-ending overtime stunner against No. 14 Stanford 18 days later.