Lacrosse Completes Third Straight Winning Season

Second-year head coach Katie Woods, center, with members of the lacrosse team. The team had a winning season for the third consecutive year. (Steve Slade '89 (SFA) for UConn)

Second-year head coach Katie Woods, center, with members of the lacrosse team. The team had a winning season for the third consecutive year. (Steve Slade '89 (SFA) for UConn)

Lacrosse head coach Katie Woods is feeling good about the progress her team has made in 2012.

The Huskies got off to a 6-1 start with its out-of-conference schedule, before taking on the challenging Big East matchups – which included three nationally-ranked teams, and ended the season with a winning record for the third consecutive year (10-6), a first for the program.

“There’s been a lot of progress,” Woods says. “The first year is the honeymoon year; everyone’s excited. Now there has been a little more expected. Some people have stepped up really well. Some people are still sorting things out.”

Kiersten Tupper '12 (ED) looks to pass the ball during the Huskies' win over Fairfield earlier this season. (Steve Slade '89 (SFA) for UConn)

Kiersten Tupper '12 (ED) looks to pass the ball during the Huskies' win over Fairfield earlier this season. (Steve Slade '89 (SFA) for UConn)

Seniors M.E. Lapham ’12 (CLAS), a first team Big East selection last season, and Kiersten Tupper ’12 (ED) led the attack for the Huskies, with support from second-year midfielder Lauren Kahn ’15 (CLAS). The three combined for 146 points.

Woods says the early part of the Big East schedule proved bumpy when the Huskies opened against No. 2 Syracuse with a 20-8 loss, followed by two more losses at Georgetown and at Rutgers. The team rebounded by winning three of its next four games, including picking up two conference wins at Cincinnati and at Louisville.

“Our first Big East game against Syracuse was really difficult. We were really fired up, but they’re one of the top teams in the country. I wouldn’t be surprised if they make a run for the national championship,” says Woods. “That was difficult for us to rebound from. But we’ve worked hard. We’re coming off a good road weekend with Cincinnati and Louisville. Winning that game at Louisville was a full team effort. It was awesome to have the game on the line, make a lot of adjustments, and at the end of it the team was backing each other up. We took care of the ball at the end when it mattered. That is the way we want to feel after every win.”

M.E. Lapham '12 (CLAS) was one of the leading scorers for the Huskies lacrosse team this season. (Steve Slade '89 (SFA) for UConn)

M.E. Lapham '12 (CLAS) was one of the leading scorers for the Huskies lacrosse team this season. (Steve Slade '89 (SFA) for UConn)

To continue the growth of the lacrosse program, Woods says it will be important to add more challenging out-of-conference games before the start of the Big East, which this season included four nationally-ranked teams (Syracuse, Notre Dame, Georgetown, and Loyola) and six teams with a high RPI, the formula that rates teams by strength of schedule and how a team performs against its schedule.

“There were several games that were really tight for us early in the season that helped prepare us for the Big East. Some weren’t,” she says. “I’d like to have a harder non-conference schedule for us in the future so we are ready for our conference, which is really competitive and it’s going to stay that way. The more prepared we can be, the better we’ll be.”

This year’s class of juniors and sophomores will begin to assume the team’s leadership next season, helping to guide this year’s freshmen and the talented crop of new arrivals in the fall.

Says Woods: “We’re going to have youth. We’re going to ask a lot more of our upperclassmen who have been role players. A lot of our players’ roles are going to change, but it’s kind of interesting and exciting to see who steps up. We’re still going to have the expectations that we want to compete as hard as we can and get to the Big East tournament and compete for a title. I know for a fact, we’re going to be quite young, which is exciting. But we’re going to have a lot of youthful mistakes that are going to happen. It’s going to be interesting to see who steps up into roles and positions.”

Kahn is one of the student-athletes Woods expects to break from the pack of talented underclassmen. “Whenever she decides she wants to go, she’s going to take over. She just has to make that decision. We talk about that all the time and she understands it,” Woods says.

Midfielder Jordan Christopher ’13 (CLAS) is working on improving her offensive game, which Woods says will progress as she gains more confidence in her game. On the defensive end, the coach is looking toward more contributions from Siobhan Wilcox ’15 (NUR), Kacie Lewis ’13(CLAS), and Kaitlyn Aldrich ’15 (CLAS) to help solidify the core of defense.

The coaching staff is also continuing to progress as a unit. Woods added two new assistant coaches this season – Anne Harrington, a former assistant at Dickinson College who also brings international playing experience to her resume, and Chelsea Gamble, a former captain at George Mason University and 2011 IWLCA/Under Armour North/South Senior All Star.

“There’s always a transition period [with coaches],” Woods says. “We’re on the same page. I feel we balance each other really well. We have the same core values, which helps drive us with what we’re trying to do with program. It’s been great, really fun, but it takes time to build your own culture. You forget that when you’ve been someplace for several years. That is the one thing we are working on every day at practice, lifting weights and games. We are still working to change the culture.”