Fall practice for KSU’s women’s lacrosse team is in full swing as they gear up for their sophomore season as a program. They will introduce 15 new players, 13 of which are freshmen.
Still standing as the only Division I women’s lacrosse team in Georgia, the Owls are looking for major improvement after last year’s difficult inaugural season when they finished 1-10. “I expect us to play closer to our competition, but the philosophy is still the same,” said head coach Kristina Llanes.
With 13 new freshmen, the team has spent the offseason not only building chemistry on the field but also off of the field. “They’re spending a lot of time in team meetings discussing team philosophy on a variety of different subject matter and we’re getting them to understand that this is an evolution,” said Llanes. “It’s a process to be patient with themselves, their teammates and the program.”
Llanes explained that from the first stages of the recruiting process she expressed to the potential players the need for mature athletes. Llanes said, “We need them to understand that there is a lot more than the typical freshman experience here.”With such a young team and program, maturity will be the biggest factor for success for the Owls this season.
The returning players will play an important role in the growth of the young squad by using their experience they gained during the significant game time they received last season. “They were playing a lot of minutes, and the returners that we do have back are confident in their ability,” said Llanes. “They understand that the freshmen are going to add to that, as well as the two transfers we have in. They are going to aid in that as well.”
KSU was fortunate enough to bring in more experience in the form of transfers to go along with the influx of newcomers. Sophomores Allison Senft from Lenoir Ryhne University and Erica Smith from Shorter College joined the program this offseason and are expected to be a huge addition to the team’s defense.
After playing in scrimmages last weekend at Winthrop University, the Owls got the most out of their time against live competition by experimenting with the new squad. “We played in a lot of different positions and used personnel in different areas and just tried to find our strengths in that way,” said Llanes.
Llanes described the how the team’s improvement from last year is beginning to surface during fall workouts. “We’re looking great,” said Llanes. “We’re athletic, we’re getting stronger in the weight room and we’re getting faster. You can never be too fast.”
Scheduling this year will be demanding of the young team not only in the growing Atlantic Sun Conference, but also when they play out of conference games such as when they host Vanderbilt in the season opener.
The team will have almost twice the amount of home games than they did last season, so increased fan support is anticipated and will be crucial in benefiting the team’s evolution. “We really are looking to have the campus community come out and support us,” said Llanes.
The women’s lacrosse team will continue their fall practice on Oct. 13 when they travel to Coastal Carolina for a tournament and take on Tampa, Coastal Carolina and Elon.