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Field hockey team takes five-game road trip before A-10 opener

The field hockey team has played a rigorous schedule, competing against top-ranked teams. Now, the Spiders will soon begin conference play.

The Spiders have a 3-7 record. They have already faced five teams ranked in the top 25, defeating only American University.

In her second year with the University of Richmond, head coach Gina Lucido said she had created a schedule to challenge her players.

"The season has been a daily lesson in the ability to be consistent," she said.

The team's goal is to win the Atlantic 10 conference title, Lucido said.

"The tough schedule is a series of tests to be ready for the final exam, which is the A-10 tournament," she said.

The team's ability to play against top teams has created an exciting season so far, co-captain Alex Malatesta said. The schedule -- which has included Princeton University, University of Maryland and James Madison University -- has been intense and should over-prepare the team for conference play, she said.

Co-captain and goalkeeper Becca Weaver has played in all the games this season. Though the team has a losing record, it is progressing in every game, she said.

During games, the team performed skills that it had focused on in practice well, Weaver said. The team can go a lot further because of this, she said. The A-10 conference is normally weaker than other Division I conferences, sophomore Hannah Hess said.

"After preparing for a higher level of play, playing historically weaker teams in the conference will be good and should bring about some solid wins," Weaver said.

The team's cohesion has impacted the season as well. Last season, the team had trouble working together on the field, but Hess said the team had clicked this season.

Not only have the players connected personally, but they have begun to play well together. The Spiders have gone through a couple of playing systems already and found one that players are comfortable with, Weaver said.

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Part of the team's cohesion is because of Lucido's team philosophy and emphasis on the team as a unit. Though the Spiders have had standout performers this season, she said she did not like to highlight individual performances instead of the team's performance.

"I believe that in a positive environment that is equally competitive and demanding accountability, in terms of team commitment, that anything is possible for the group to come together and sacrifice for the good of the team," Lucido said.

After playing hard-fought games and working to create cohesion, she said the team would like to enter conference play with a strong presence.

"We'll come into conference play and hopefully make a statement with our performance and results of success," Lucido said. "Our job is to go in and make a statement about the seriousness of our trophy pursuit."

Conference play begins Oct. 10 at home against the University of Massachusetts. The team will play six conference games this season, and those schools with the best four records at the end of conference play will compete in the A-10 tournament at Temple University in early November.

Contact reporter Kaileigh Connolly at kaileigh.connolly@richmond.edu

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