Women’s LAX Wraps Fall Schedule
Photo By Skip Tapp
Photo By Skip Tapp

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-  There are no days off for the record-setting Jacksonville University women’s lacrosse team. For almost two weeks, the team has been busy preparing for their spring schedule through scrimmages and practices.

Season preparations saw the Dolphins take on nationally-ranked Florida, participate in the Cradle for the Cure tournament in Flagler Beach and host two scrimmages at D.B. Milne Stadium.

"I love the fall. It gives me and the other coaches an opportunity to get to know the new players and motivate and relate," adds Head Coach Mindy McCord. "That's what it is all about for me. For the players, it's a chance to learn from some of the best teaching coaches in the game and to compete together and determine the type of team they would like to be in the spring."

In the Saturday scrimmage at the University of Florida, JU played even with the first half of the three half scrimmage, holding a 7-5 lead with 1:15 to play and a free position opportunity in the attacking end. After missing the free position shot the Dolphins gave up three goals to end up on the wrong side of an 8-7 score.

"In a regular season game on the road against a team like Florida we would of course hold the ball for the final shot of the half. Any coach would. But in the fall, it was more important for us to go through the free position and take the shot rather than practice what strategy. The players need to take the risks. It's about their development. I thought our first group played well in the opening half against their first team. We took a lot of shots, pushed the tempo and played a nice half with very few turnovers. I was honestly not expecting us to play that polished of a half this fall," commented McCord.

The second half saw JU mixing their lineup against the Florida regulars. Florida controlled the half scoring nine consecutive goals to open the half before JU scored four of the last six. The third half featured young players from each team with Florida's youth besting the Fins 7-2 in the period.

Cradle for the Cure was held on Saturday, Oct. 5 and raised funds and awareness for breast cancer research. The event featured five other schools including Division I rivals Stetson and Presbyterian and emerging Division II competitors Rollins, Florida Southern and St. Leo University.

The results were encouraging for JU as the squad outscored their opponents in each scrimmage and saw action from 31 of 33 players, including all 11 freshmen and new 5th year addition Ali Brennan.

"I am happy with all of our new players. I think they have all stepped up and made huge strides. If I was watching the games at Cradle [for the Cure] I wouldn't know which of the players was new. That's a good first step for our program this fall." said McCord.

Many players excelled during the six-game tourney like freshman attacker Danielle Della Rocca. The lefty scored nine goals at the play day and had four against Florida. The Long Island native credits the Player Development Season (PDS). "Every day I'm learning more and becoming better than I was yesterday," commented Della Rocca, the Fins leading scorer this Fall.

Fall Lacrosse: The Player Development Series

During the fall, the Fins practice their unique assembly line strategies and teach their high-octane system through a Player Development Series. Using equal practicing philosophies from basketball, ice hockey, football and traditional women's lacrosse, the team uses the series to bond and integrate new and returning players.

"This is the time for me to break bad habits, to get extra reps in skills and enhance my game. It's a time to get stronger and faster," said senior defender Kaylee Quint. It's also about getting to know my new teammates strengths and weaknesses and personalities while growing connections on the field."

#Forward: The New Identity

Coach McCord proves that at JU the glass is always half full. Rather than lament the losses of eight terrific seniors, she has refocused the team on what she feels is most important.

"We lost some key players last year to graduation and we miss them. But we have a new team this year and as a program you have to always keep your eyes forward. There's a reason the rear view mirror is only a couple inches wide. We need to grow forward and so far it's been right where we want to be.”