April 11, 2008

W. Lax Faces Bears on Road, Hosts Cardinal

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After snapping its four-game losing streak last weekend, the women’s lacrosse team will look to pick up some wins over the weekend. The team takes on Brown in Providence, R.I. today at 5 p.m., then returns home for a Sunday contest with Stanford at noon.
The Bears are no easy target, however. Brown is on a three-game winning streak, including an 8-5 win over Dartmouth two weeks ago.[img_assist|nid=29746|title=Fly-by|desc=Sophomore Tissy O’Connor (right) passes a Green defender in the Red’s 10-9 win last weekend.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“They’re very gutsy, they’ll take risks on the field,” said head coach Jenny Graap ’86. “They’re very confident this season having defeated Dartmouth. I sense that they’re feeling good and excited about their season. They appear to be a cohesive team with a lot of depth and athletic players. They’re scrappy, capable of winning close games.”
A huge part of the Bears’ win over Dartmouth was junior, and leading scorer Lauren Vitkus. Vitkus, a New York native, scored three second-half goals to propel Brown past the Green. She leads the team with 28 points on seven assists and 21 goals. Vitkus also has a shooting percentage of .429, well above the team percentage of .379.
The last line of defense between Vitkus and the scoreboard will be sophomore goaltender Kristen Reese. Reese made 11 saves last weekend against Dartmouth in her first collegiate start.
“She had definitely an outstanding game against Dartmouth and she had a very consistent week at practice,” Graap said.
In addition to Reese’s breakout game, the Red’s other goaltender, junior Renee Hughes, missed two days of practice due to injury.
Another problem for the Red — besides Hughes’s absence — could be the playing field. The team is used to playing on artificial turf, but will be playing on grass at Stevens Field in Providence, R.I. In their last two games on real grass, the players lost to Vanderbilt and the University of New Hampshire in Nashville, Tenn.
“Playing on grass is definitely a different game than playing on turf with the ground balls,” Graap said. “…The surface can be a lot more unpredictable than synthetic.”
The team has been practicing on the real grass along Game Park Road in order to prepare for the bad hops in Providence. In addition to adjusting to the elements, the Red has been working on its offensive evolution.
“We’re trying to continue to evolve our offensive looks,” Graap said. “At this point in the season there’s been a lot of scouting and tape exchanges so it’s hard to surprise another team because they can see your plays, they can see what you’re doing, they can assess your strategy.
“This week in preparation … we were trying to continue to develop and work on our offensive sets, our offensive motion and strengthen and continue to improve our defense and transition game.”