The University of Richmond's women's lacrosse team won its fourth-straight conference game last weekend, clinching the No. 2 seed in the Atlantic 10 tournament in Philadelphia, Pa., from April 24 to 26.
With a 12-5 win against St. Joseph's University on Sunday, the team turned its three-game winning streak into four after honoring its seniors before the team's last home game. For the second-straight game, the Spiders kept their opponents from scoring more than five goals. Senior captain Mandy Friend said it had been a goal for the team this spring.
"We finally played the type of defense I knew we could play," Friend said.
With conference wins over the George Washington University, American University, La Salle University and Saint Joseph's, the Spiders have turned their regular-season losing streak of 0-10 around. The team will enter the A-10 tournament with a 5-2 conference record and an overall record of 6-12.
The team enters the A-10 tournament on a high, overcoming the loss of its head coach, Sue Murphy, mid-season. Murphy was asked to step down after violating school policy by setting up a separate team account.
Friend said assistant coach Allison Nuzzi and women's soccer coach Peter Albright, who serves as the team's interim head coach, had done a fine job in taking over the team and restoring its confidence.
"Nuzzi is really good at finding the right fit by keeping what we value from Richmond lacrosse," Friend said. "Players are playing how we were recruited to play. We have confidence in Nuzzi."
Friend said Albright had helped to keep the team focused on its game emotionally. She said by being together as much as possible, the team's players had maintained their confidence in each other.
"The team is playing the best that we have played this year," Friend said. "We are a completely different team."
In their 14-5 win over La Salle on April 17, 11 different scorers contributed to the Spiders' victory, making it difficult for conference rivals to scout the team's play. Friend said it had been exciting to see the benefits of the team's hard work.
The Spiders will try to regain their title as A-10 champions, which they held from 2005 to 2007. They lost to the University of Massachusetts Minutewomen in overtime during last year's championship game.
"As a team, player to player, we're better than everyone," Friend said. "We have proven to ourselves that we ... can win."
Friend said the seniors on the team had wanted to teach the underclassmen what it was like to be a winning team. She said the seniors had encouraged the underclassmen to forget everything else besides their love for the game when they stepped on the field.
The team will play St. Joseph's during the A-10 semifinals on Friday. If the Spiders win, they will face the winner of the other semifinal game - between the University of Massachusetts and the George Washington University on Sunday in Philadelphia, Pa.
Contact staff writer Dani Pycroft at firstname.lastname@example.org