There has been no major roster makeover for the UC Davis women’s lacrosse team, but the Aggies are still expected to have a different look in 2013.
That’s because new head coach Kate Henwood has been hard at work re-prioritizing the squad.
“We’re bringing an elevated level of expectations,” Henwood told The Enterprise. “We’re trying to energize the program. We’re letting our players know there’s a certain level of trust and respect between every member of the staff and teammates.”
Under the direction of former coach Elaine Jones, who led the local women for a decade, the 2012 UCD squad finished fifth in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
Henwood’s Aggies kick off this season on Friday at Florida with every starter returning from last year’s roster. But the coach said she has taken the intact lineup and shaken some things up. Part of UCD’s revised strategy is a distinct attack pattern, which uses varied motions across all positions.
Off the field, Henwood and her coaching staff have emphasized working hard academically, and have already raised the team GPA to 3.0.
“It has been a big change, but all for the better,” said Aggie sophomore Elizabeth Landry. “The new coaches have done a great job of motivating everybody. We all expect to do great things this year.”
Landry earned MPSF Newcomer of the Year award in 2012, when she totaled a school-record 72 draw controls from the midfield. According to Henwood, Landry will continue to be a strong presence this season.
Lending offensive prowess to the UCD squad are two all-conference seniors in Hannah Mirza and Elizabeth Datino. The latter veteran led UCD — and the nation at one point last season — in average points per game.
Henwood said the Aggies are supported by two skilled goalkeepers — junior Jordan Majka and sophomore Kai Murphy — who will be vying for time between the pipes.
Neutralizing the attacks of conference rivals, however, is going to take backbone. Henwood summarized the biggest hurdle facing the UCD squad with a reference to a speech by former President Jimmy Carter:
“It’s sort of a ‘crisis of confidence.’ They have that desire to perform at the highest level, but they’re not assured in themselves yet. One of our goals is getting them to believe they can play at that level.”
That confidence will be put to the test this week by Florida, a perennial powerhouse that is ranked within the top three in national polls. Last year, the Gators battled to the NCAA semifinals, and — like UCD — have returned all of their starters.