Women’s lacrosse starts season with No. 25 preseason ranking

by Jake Johnson | 2/11/19 2:15am

Only 25 Division I teams in the nation get to be nationally ranked at any given time, and being ranked is a recognition of dominance and skill as a team. After making their first Ivy Tournament in several years last year, it comes as no surprise that the Dartmouth women’s lacrosse team has been given the honor of a preseason national ranking.

Entering the season at No. 25 in the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association poll and picked to finish third in the Ivy League, the Big Green wants to end this season with another strong finish.

“Last season we made it to the Ivy Tournament for the first time in I think eight years, so this season I am really excited to get back there,” said Kathryn Giroux ’19. “We lost in the semifinals last year, which was so disappointing, but I think that experience will help this year. Our goal has always been to win an Ivy championship.”

The path to a ring will not be easy. The Ivy League has some talented teams to start the year. Dartmouth’s biggest conference foes for this season, the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University, are both ranked above them in the national rankings. Penn strapped down a No. 12 ranking while Princeton enters as the top dogs in the Ivy League with a No. 8 overall ranking.

When asked about the team’s goal for this season, Giroux said that making the NCAA tournament is the team’s ultimate goal.

“Our goal is to win an Ivy championship and get an NCAA bid,” she said. “Making it to the [Ivy League] tournament semifinals last year was exciting, but this year we want to go all the way and I feel so confident in this team.”

Every team, no matter how good, has some sort of kryptonite, and even ranked teams are not invincible to weaknesses. Head coach Danielle Spencer agreed that securing a top-25 ranking does not mean the team lacks in areas to improve.

“This year, I would like to see consistency from our team from game to game,” said Spencer, who won Ivy League Co-Coach of the Year in 2018. “Less swings from great play to mediocre play — I believe that will be the difference maker for us this season.”

This team is going to be more than capable of beating any opponent this season — it will come down to rising to the occasion game after game, and continuously producing results all season long.

Before the season can get underway, the team has some tough decisions to make when it comes to player personnel. The Big Green will see three first-team All-Ivy players — Katie Bourque ’20, Ellie Carson ’20 and Kiera Vrindten ’20 — return this season, in addition to Giroux, who was named an All-Ivy second team selection and Inside Lacrosse All-American honorable mention last year.

“We probably have the deepest bench in terms of how many players we have contributing on the field, which is so exciting,” she said. “As coaches, we are having a really hard time coming up with a starting lineup. There are a lot of players we feel deserve playing time right now but only 12 can play at a time, so we are trying to make tough decisions as a coaching staff.”

At the same time, Spencer said, the coaches recognize that too much talent is not the worst thing a coaching staff could have to deal with. 

“I guess that’s a good problem to have!” Spencer said.

Although the preseason ranking this year is considerably higher than in previous seasons, the roster is mostly the same from last year’s, meaning that the team has shown significant growth since last season. 

“There is going to be a lot of experience on the field,” Spencer said.

This should be a fun season to watch as a fan, so if you planned to get out and see the women’s lacrosse team this year, expect big things. It will be a good season.