Joe Bittner, ’Doah Staff Writer
February 6, 2013
The spring semester has arrived, which means lacrosse season is upon us. Despite the frigid temperatures and unrelenting winds, the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams have begun practicing on the Sprint Field at Shentel Stadium. Both teams are working hard, and feeling confident about about their first year competing in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC).
Men’s coach Mike Kruger, who has experience in the ODAC, says, “Having coached in the conference before, I’m very comfortable with where our team is in only my second year. I expect us to compete in every game at a very high level.”
Women’s coach Lindsey Lutz shares this view. “This is going to be a more challenging season for us, the ODAC is a much stronger conference then the USA South, and to prepare for that our out of conference schedule is a lot tougher than in the past.”
Being the “new kid” in the ODAC, it is important for both teams to make statements against the elite members of the conference. These are teams that are commonly ranked among the top 20 in the country. Kruger and Lutz have been putting their players through rigorous practices — the women’s team going through fitness tests and the men’s team braving the elements at 6 a.m. on the turf field.
Just as Shenandoah is new to the ODAC, the freshmen are new to college lacrosse. These newcomers have already had impact on both the men’s team and the women’s. Kruger says, “We will be young, but we will be significantly more talented. The new players have all bought into the system and we have a very tight-knit group.” Although the women’s team has lots of returners, the freshmen seem to be fitting right in. “Their dedication to the sport and excitement to learn has complemented the passion of the returners, so that is exciting to see.”
The men’s team is looking to bounce back after a bit of a down year. Last year, they had two wins and 14 losses, but don’t count them out this year. Under the leadership of co-captains senior Bryan Pope and sophomore Eric Hobby, this young team can learn and compete deep into the season. Their schedule is much more difficult than what they have had in the past, but their youth can help them make an impact in one of the best Division III lacrosse conferences in the country. Their season starts on Saturday, Feb. 23, at Alvernia University.
Lutz is looking to continue her success with the women’s team. Having many returning players is advantageous for this team, including two All-State players: goalkeeper Ashley Cross and midfielder Samantha Sisson. These girls are set on coming into the ODAC and winning the championship. “We want to make a statement by winning the ODAC since we lost in the USA South championship last year to CNU,” said Cross. Led by senior Sydney Anderson, their captain, the girls look to extend their dominance. Their first game is Feb. 27, at home against Mary Washington at 4 p.m.
Make sure to come out and support both teams this year. It is a very important season for Shenandoah, and fans are always more than welcome. So layer up, grab some hot chocolate and come support your lacrosse teams on their way to showing the ODAC that S.U. is the school to beat.