Laxers resume MPSF play at Fresno State

April 5, 2017

DAVIS, Calif. - Although the actual vernal equinox took place more than two weeks ago, the cliché of spring’s renewal takes place this week for many UC Davis students, mostly due to the start of the university’s new quarter. For UC Davis women’s lacrosse, the week marks the return to Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play. The Aggies have only five conference games remaining on their 2017 schedule, starting with Saturday’s road game at Fresno State.

In many sports, scoring margins are referred to in terms of possessions: a four-point lead in football is a one-possession game while in basketball, it’s a two-possession difference, and so on. This terminology does not take place in lacrosse, since each goal only moves the scoreboard by a single click, but the value of possessions is just as strong.

Second-year head coach Tee Ladouceur needs only to point to her most recent game, Sunday’s 12-8 loss at Drexel, to illustrate the value of protecting the ball. The Aggies outshot their hosts by a 26-20 margin. They won the battle for draw controls at 12-10 and dominated on ground balls to the tune of 28-19. However, UC Davis committed 24 turnovers, five of which led directly to goals in Drexel’s 7-0 run in the first half. This followed totals of 24 and 21 giveaways in the two previous games at UMBC and Mount St. Mary’s.

“We’ve managed to clean up every area of the game except turnovers,” said Ladouceur. “We’re not struggling on the hustle plays. We’re feisty and we work hard, so now I want to see the hard work translate into clean and smart possessions so that we can put the ball away.”

Not surprisingly, the Aggies are 4-0 in games where they commit fewer TOs. The lone victory with a negative margin was Thursday’s 8-5 victory over The Mount, a game that saw UC Davis hold its opponent to a season-low .250 shooting percentage (5-for-20) and sophomore Taylor Cuenin tie a conference record for eight caused turnovers.

In fact, Cuenin’s penchant for steals has reached dizzying heights. She leads the conference and ranks second nationally with 3.58 CTs per game. Her 43 total establishes a school record, eclipsing the old mark of 37, with at least five games left on the 2017 slate. The junior midfielder also captured MPSF Defensive Player of the Week distinction. Cuenin also ranks fifth nationally in ground balls (3.67).

Cuenin also leads the team in draw controls (44), goals (34) and total points (45), while fellow second-year Shannon Cross is second offensively with 21 goals and 10 assists for 31 total points. Two freshmen, Amanda Outcalt (17 goals, 12 assists) and Kate Graham (9 goals, team-high 13 assists), also have figured significantly on the offensive end. Junior Kelsey DeJesus has provided the all-around punch of a classic midfielder: 15 goals, 22 GBs, 19 DCs, 11 steals.

This shapes up for a key MPSF road matchup with Fresno State, which has enjoyed a breakout season that all but erases the memory of the program’s 0-44 start from 2009-12. At 8-4, the Bulldogs have as many victories as they amassed in their three previous years combined. Most recently, they picked up their first conference win of the year, a decisive 17-12 triumph against San Diego State on Monday. Sophomore (and Davis High alum) Sarah Bloise scored four goals with four assists and eight draw controls. She leads FSU with 47 total points (32 goals, 15 assists) while Tiffiny Wallace has a team-high 34 scores.

“We have a really strong conference right now,” Ladouceur said. “At the end of the day, it’s about winning and losing, and I’d like to win out. Every coach does. But I want to see us improve on the things we’ve worked on all season. It’s all I can ask for. If we can work on the little things and make them count, hopefully that will translate into winning.”

Saturday’s game time is 5 p.m. Live links will be available later in the week at

QUICK STICKS: As stated above, sophomore Taylor Cuenin leads UC Davis in goals, draw controls, caused turnovers and ground balls... While the last two stats often go hand-in-hand, combining DCs and scoring is a rare achievement... Cuenin also has 11 assists, just two behind Kate Graham for the team lead... Only one player in school history has led the team in all five categories: Megan O’Connor, who amassed 45 goals, 23 assists, 58 GBs, 46 DCs and 34 CTs in 2007... Senior Melissa Kellan shot 5-for-6 during the Spring Break (with a hat trick against the Mount), bringing her season shooting percentage to .621... She set the school record of .627 (32-for-51) as a sophomore.