UC Davis continues homestand Saturday

Sophomore Shannon Geary became just the third Aggie to record nine draw controls in a game.
(Mark Honbo, Athletics Communications)
March 23, 2016

StatBroadcast | Live Video

DAVIS, Calif. -- At last check, UC Davis women’s lacrosse closed out the winter quarter in strong fashion, opening Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play with a 19-7 win over Saint Mary’s, marking the widest margin of victory in more than three years. With the university’s final examinations complete, the Aggies can return to their month-long homestand, continuing with Saturday’s matchup with Drexel.

For first-year head coach Tee Ladouceur, the first order of her team’s business is appropriate for the season: renewal. The Aggies hosted their alumnae in an exhibition game on Sunday, then took a team retreat to Stinson Beach for additional R&R, all with the hopes of starting the new quarter on a positive note.

“We’re coming off another two-week break and we’ve done a couple of team bonding things. The girls are done with finals so there shouldn’t be any stress,” said Ladouceur. “We’re just looking to have fun, move the ball, and get some nice play-making happening. The spirits are good, and we’re looking to really come back hard this weekend and into the next month of business.”

The first two home games certainly provide indication of a jelling team. Less than a week after the 10-9 overtime win against Vermont, on March 8, the Aggies posted season bests for goals (19), assists (12), draw controls (20), ground balls (21) and turnovers (12) against SMC. The visiting Gaels managed just 12 shots, the lowest allowed by UC Davis since a 5-4 heartbreaker to Marquette almost exactly one year prior.

The usual Aggies glittered the boxscore. Freshman and team leading scorer Taylor Cuenin notched four goals. Team veterans Courtney Neff, Melissa Kellan and Ellie Delich chipped in three points each. Neff, Delich and defender Tess Kevorkian combined for seven of the team’s eight steals. Midfielder Shannon Geary, who replaced last year’s All-MPSF performer Elizabeth Landry on the draw, posted a career-high nine draw controls. However, that March 13 win also featured numerous contributions off the bench, most notably from Kelly Chuck (3 goals, 1 assist), Grace Richards (3 goals, 1 assist), Kelsey DeJesus (1 goal, 2 assists) and Kate Fellner (1 goal, 1 assist).

“I think we’ve improved a lot defensively and at working together as a team. We really have each other’s backs out there,” said Ladouceur. “Where I’d like to see us improve a little is how we move the ball on attack. I see some awesome stuff happening in practice but when we get in games, we can be a little hesitant and unsure of ourselves. That’s something I hope this two-week break helps, to let us loosen up a bit and not think so much about what we’re doing. This is a talented group of athletes, and I want to see them translate that to game days.”

DREXEL (5-2), which faces Fresno State in a midweek game before heading north to Aggie Stadium, ran a streak of three consecutive wins before falling, 9-7, to UMBCA back on March 9. Like the Aggies, the Dragons took a week off from competition for final exams before entering their spring mode. Sophomore attacker and 2015 Colonial Athletic Association All-Rookie honoree Nadia Pelham-Lacey recorded 13 goals with 14 assists in her first seven games while Emily Duffey and Devin Nihill each share the team goals lead with 14. Junior Eva Winiarski paces DU with 17 draw controls while midfielder Caroline Thiele has a team-best 10 caused turnovers.

Saturday’s game with Drexel is the first of three during a nine-day span that includes the resumption of conference play. The Aggies will host Colorado on April 1 and Denver on April 3. Live stats for the Aggies-Dragons game is available via Stat Broadcast while video will be available at the UC Davis Athletics YouTube channel. See above for links.

QUICK STICKS: At No. 38 (power rating 86.7) on the LaxPower computer rankings, Drexel will be the second-highest opponent on the Aggies’ 2016 schedule behind only Temple (18th, 90.3)... However, Saturday’s game may give an inkling on things to come, as Colorado (24th, 89.52) and Denver (41st, 86.20) are arguably the most comparable to the Dragons among UC Davis’ leaguemates... For reference, the rest of the MPSF shakes up as follows (through March 22): Stanford (4th, 95.47), USC (6th, 95.09), Oregon (52nd, 84.75), UC Davis, (65th, 82.55), California (68th, 82.35), San Diego State (72nd, 81.87), Fresno State (88th, 78.90), Saint Mary’s (108th, 67.44)... There are 111 total Division I teams nationwide.

Shannon Geary became just the third Aggie to amass nine draw controls in a game... Vannessa Jamison was the first to do so (Feb. 23, 2012) while Elizabeth Landry did it four times, including the school-record 12 against Long Island (Mar. 11, 2012)... Oddly, half of the six instances came against Saint Mary’s: Jamison’s initial school record, Geary this season, and Landry’s 11 in the 2015 season finale.