Despite beginning the season 0-4, the Augustana women’s lacrosse has hit a strong midseason stride as they have earned nine victories and one loss since the 0-4 start.
Five of those victories have also been conference wins. Head coach Caroline Durham said the two wins against Illinois Wesleyan University and Carthage College were key as they are the two toughest teams in the CCIW.
The Illinois Wesleyan and Carthage games were closely contested and were decided by teamwork, dedication and two game winning goals by senior Olivia Mayer, who earned CCIW Offensive Player of the Week twice.
Durham said the first few games helped the team find their way.
“We started off the season very rough, but once we got into the conference games, we had things figured out,” Durham said.
A lot of the issues may have stemmed from a mostly young squad as the Vikings only have four seniors on the underclassmen dominated team.
Durham said her focus in her first year for the team has been to work on the team’s awareness of space on the field and make sure they are in the right places for offense and defense. She noted that during the season the team how gotten much better at producing under pressure.
She also said the focus was on winning the conference games against Carroll University and Elmhurst College. The Vikings succeeded in the first task by defeating Elmhurst College on Saturday, 13-3. To earn an advantage during the CCIW tournament on May 2 and 6, the Vikings needed to defeat Carroll at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at home on the Thorson-Lucken Field.
“If we win the next two games, we get to host two rounds (of the CCIW tournament) at home,” Durham said. “It’s a mental and motivational thing to be able to play at home. Any little edge helps.”
Durham said another advantage for the VIkings is how they have played and will play against most of the CCIW teams, which allows Durham to look for any weaknesses in the other teams and prepare her team to focus on those weaknesses.
Durham, who joined the women’s lacrosse program as head coach this year after previous head coach Meredith Newman left to join her alma mater, said the transition to becoming the head coach was smooth. She’s been working with the team to help them understand her “coaching philosophy” and build up the team for the upcoming years.
Mayer said the Durham has improved many areas of the team.
“She was a defender so she has been helping us with our body positioning and footwork that will make us better,” Mayer said. “She has also been helping us work together more and get more comfortable playing with each other while increasing our confidence.”
The Vikings will play Colorado College on Saturday and Hamline University on Sunday.