The Duhawks of the women’s lacrosse team kicked off their season on Saturday, March 4, against Northwestern Eagles in the Rock Bowl. Though they battled, the Duhawks lost, 10-7, but channeled that momentum to Waukesha, WI, where they took down the Carroll Pioneers, 13-6, earning Head Coach Sam Koenig his first career win.
Most notably against the Pioneers was senior Anna Schwalbe who walked away with six goals, as well as a strong showing by junior goalie Ashley McGee.
“She (McGee) has been amazing. In the first game she had some really big saves to keep us in the game, and then also against Carroll. Her communication, kind of getting everyone in line on defense is what we look for her to do; she’s really stepped up,” said Koenig. She’s a pretty big leader on defense just because she can see the entire field, she doesn’t have to worry about one person, she’s worried about everyone.”
This early spurt of success means big things for the lacrosse program that is only in its fifth season.
“We’re making progress, and hopefully we can will a lot more games this year than in the past; that’s the goal,” said Koenig. “I believe that every program at Loras should be the best, so trying to get the women’s lacrosse program to that level will take time, but that’s what’s exciting about building a program, especially building it in such an amazing community. Loras College is by far the best place.”
With a larger roster than in previous years, the Duhawks are training hard despite the cold. Working on all aspects and positions, Koenig hopes to build a diverse program where leadership and accountability are part of the culture.
“(It takes) everyone on the team, you know we have 22 ladies on the roster, so the 22nd person on the team is making a difference just like the first, which is essential to building that team culture,” said Koenig. “It comes down to … just making everyone want to be involved.”
After their first match specifically, the women worked on fine-tuning their skills, especially on the draw, the only category they failed to dominate in against Northwestern.
“In women’s lacrosse, the draw is probably one of the biggest aspects of the game, so we focused a lot on the draw in the three days of practice after that game, and came out and played Carroll, and won pretty much every draw… probably 75 percent. Hopefully we can carry that throughout the season hopefully,” said Koenig.
“We’re just trying to score as many goals as possible while still playing good defense. I think we’ve been allowing a lot less goals than we have in years past, which ultimately comes down to every girl on the team wanting to buy in and communicate with each other,” added Koenig.
In addition to skills and offensive strategy, the program is focused this year on development at their core. The team came up with this spring’s motto: “Leave a legacy.”
“What we do this is year is going to impact people next year, but also ultimately people that come 20-30 years down the line because this is the foundational stage. What we do now, if we’re successful this year, we’ll be successful in the future. If we’re not successful this year, then we have to kind of start all over again. Hopefully we can leave a good footprint for people to see in the future, and it’s big for recruiting … when they see success and winning, more people are going to want to come join.”