Photo courtesy DU Athletics
DU women’s lacrosse (3-0) returns to Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium for their 2017 home opener this Saturday against Louisville (3-0) at 3:00 pm, following the men’s lacrosse game against Duke. US Lacrosse Magazine has the Pioneers checking in at #16 nationally.
Why not stay for the second game Saturday and see two excellent women’s teams face off?
If you think there is too much stoppage and not enough physicality in women’s lacrosse, you may be surprised. Over the past several years, the skill, speed, and physical play in the women’s game have improved. You won’t see unimpeded offensive plays where defenders aren’t allowed to step-up and challenge the attackers. New rules are allowing for more physical play with the addition of an option to use gloves and soft headgear as player contact continues to increase in the women’s game. Expect this trend to continue to add to the excellent passing and spacing which is a staple of women’s lacrosse.
At the beginning of this season, the storylines for DU Women’s Lacrosse were about their inaugural season in the BIG EAST and the dominance of All-BIG EAST Preseason player Nicole Martindale. But the big story, early, is solid play all around, buoyed by a strong defensive play and balanced scoring. That, and a deep freshman class which should have a growing impact on the field during the course of the season.
Starting this season, however, it has been two top scorers from last year Elizabeth Behrins (8 goals) and Kendra Lanuza (9 goals) who have been scoring in bunches and making headlines. Sophomore attack Julia Feiss already has 8 goals and surpassed her entire 2016 production. With all the returning scoring power on this year’s squad, they should find the net often. With five of their top six scorers from last year returning and Nicole Martindale on the field for the entire season, the sky is the limit for the 2017 squad.
While this year’s squad has already benefitted from their first BIG EAST recruiting class, they will be led by veteran Martindale, a pre-season All-BIG EAST pick. The red-shirt sophomore attacker is one of the best players in the country and she proved last season that she’s a difference maker. After missing the first half of the season, Martindale returned to the field for the second half of the season. She only appeared in the final 9 games of last season, but she still notched 32 points on 21 goals and 11 assists, second on the team behind graduated senior Christa Reeces’ 42 goals and 10 assists in 18 games. Behrins, who matched Martindale’s 21 goals last season, will also be adding scoring punch to the Pioneers’ attack. Simply put, there won’t be a shortage of scoring in 2017.
Senior goalkeeper Maddie Stevenson brings experience and skill to the back. Stevenson has already received a BIG EAST Player of the Week Award following the Stanford upset. It’s still early in the season, but Stevenson has been a rock, allowing just 7.33 goals with a .577 save %.
The Pioneers are picked to finish 4th in the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches’ Poll with Florida slotted as the conference favorite. Denver starts BIG EAST play for the first time ever on March 19th against Temple in Denver.