UC Davis LAX readies for Spring Break games

Senior goalie Lauren Ali, who posted 14 saves against Columbia last week, hails from Lancaster, Pa. (Wayne Tilcock, AggiePhoto.com)
March 23, 2017

DAVIS, Calif. - For most college students, the annual spring break serves as a break from the rigors of academics, a chance to go home to visit family and friends, and an opportunity to unwind, preferably with some outdoor activities. In the case of UC Davis women’s lacrosse, the upcoming week will offer the same purpose.

A break from school? The university’s final examinations end on Friday, and spring quarter instruction does not resume until April 3. 

Homecoming? For many Aggies, yes. At least one of upcoming visits to UMBC (Tuesday), Mount St. Mary’s (Thursday) and Drexel (Sunday) is within reasonable driving distance to several Aggies’ hometowns, including goalies Lauren Ali (Lancaster, Pa.) and Grace Richards (Bel Air, Md.), freshman attacker Sorana Larson (Ellicott City, Md.), senior attacker Melissa Kellan (Vienna, Va.), freshman midfielder Mackenzie Schuler (Fairfax Station, Va.), sophomore attacker Shannon Cross (Great Falls, Va.), sophomore fender Rachel Brennan (Vienna, Va.). The two Nutmeggers on the roster – senior Pauline Kaplan (Danbury) and junior Erica Ely (Ridgefield) – grew up just a day trip from Philadelphia.

As for the chance to unwind, UC Davis head coach Tee Ladouceur says the trip comes just in time, especially in an athletics department that espouses a school-first, athletics-second philosophy. “The homestand was tricky because a portion of the team was in midterms in any given week, and I swear midterms last the entire second half of the quarter,” she said. “It will be really nice to just think about lacrosse, think about what we’re going out there to do. I’m excited for them to be able to breathe and have some fun with lacrosse again rather than having it be a stresser in their lives.”

The trip also serves as a prelude for the resumption of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation schedule. UC Davis’ string of six straight road games will continue with league matchups at Fresno State (April 8) and Cal (April 14) to start the spring quarter. 

“It’s the last couple of games to really crunch, learn and grow before going into conference play,” said Ladouceur. “We have definitely grown, and there is still more growing to do. I have been pleased with what we’ve seen so far. We’re trying all sorts of different things and this will be our last chance to find a little bit more consistency.”

Sophomore Taylor Cuenin continues to exert herself as one of the MPSF’s top all-around players. She ranks second in the circuit in points (4.33 per game), second in goals (3.11), tied for sixth in assists (1.22), second in ground balls (3.78), third in draw controls (4.22) and tops in caused turnovers (3.22). Cross ranks second in the team in goals (17) and total points (27), while freshman Amanda Outcalt (15), Kellan (13) and Kelsey DeJesus (12) each have double-figure scoring through nine games. DeJesus is also second among the Aggies in steals (11) while freshman defender Anna Belenis is second in ground balls (17).

The recent four-game homestand, which finished with a soul-searching 14-13 loss to Columbia, and the 20-6 conference win over Saint Mary’s provided a valuable finish to the winter. To Ladouceur, the East Coast trip will be an opportunity to ramp up the game another notch.

“The teams that we’re going up against will be a little bit tougher than our last stretch, and being on the road makes it tough. It’s always tough to play in Maryland and Philly. They are very physical teams and I would imagine the officials will allow more physical play, so we’ll have to hang with that. It will be very good for us, no matter the outcomes.”

ABOUT THE OPPONENTS: UMBC (6-3) will face Albany in the days leading up to UC Davis’ visit... The Retrievers battled tough with No. 18 Johns Hopkins in a 12-8 loss back on March 8, and have since won decisively against Longwood (17-5) and Duquesne (20-6)... Senior Sam Nolan leads UMBC offensively with 26 goals and nine assists while sophomore Sara Moeller has another 18 goals and a team-best 16 dimes... MOUNT SAINT MARY’S (0-5) lost a 12-11 thriller in its most recent outing, despite four goals from senior Sammie Knapp and a hat trick plus eight draw controls from junior Jannel Daufenbach... Knapp leads the Mount with 14 goals and four assists through five games... DREXEL (4-3) hosts High Point and Penn State before the Aggies come to Philly... Junior Nadia Pelham-Lacey leads the Dragons with 18 goals and 13 assists while senior Devin Nihill is close behind in the goals column with 17... Both players scored two in Drexel’s 8-3 win at UC Davis last year.