The University of Richmond women’s lacrosse team is eager to pick up where it left off last spring.
Last season -- or half a season, as it turned out to be -- saw the Spiders sport an unblemished 7-0 record and a No. 13 national ranking in the Nike/US Lacrosse Magazine Top 20 before it was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“What we’re all most looking forward to is playing,” said head coach Allison Kwolek, who has held the role since 2013. “There’s a lot of anticipation going into this week just to make sure that we are all staying healthy and getting to Saturday and hearing that first whistle to start the draw.
"[The players] have dedicated a lot to being in this position to be able to play and so much support has gone in to getting us here,” Kwolek said.
It has been more than eleven months since the team last played. Since then, the players have prepared for the 2021 season amid the pandemic, a reality that will not be going away as games begin.
Kwolek thinks her team is prepared for the challenges of a COVID-19-impacted season.
“We have to expect to have to stop and start,” Kwolek said. “I think everybody’s trying to do what they can to keep the bubble protected, and naturally that adds a layer of stress to everything.
"But it’s not only our team, it’s all the other teams; it’s people on campus; it’s students; it’s professors. And I think we’re just trying to do our part to keep that bubble protected.”
The Spiders come into this season having already earned numerous accolades despite not yet playing a minute. They are ranked No. 10 in the Nike/US Lacrosse Magazine Preseason poll and No. 12 in the Inside Lacrosse preseason media poll. In early February, they were selected as the preseason favorites to win the Atlantic-10 championship, as voted on by the league’s head coaches.
In addition, redshirt senior Sam Geiersbach and sophomore Arden Tierney were selected as preseason honorable mention All-Americans by Inside Lacrosse.
Although Geiersbach appreciates the preseason recognition, she says the real work is yet to come.
“Being selected as preseason favorites is great, but there’s still so much competition within the conference and after the conference,” Geiersbach said. “Our expectations are very high, but I’m excited to see how much we can build throughout the season because I know that there’s still more that we can grow and continue to keep getting better.”
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Tierney in particular has an opportunity this spring to build on what was a stellar first-year campaign in 2020. In seven games, she led the team in goals (24), was second in points (34) and third in assists (10). She credits her team for her impressive contributions.
“I think last year’s success definitely came from the confidence that [my] teammates and coaches put in me,” Tierney said. “We always say on our team that you can’t really tell what grade people are in, so when you go out on the field … I didn’t feel like a freshman, I just felt like another member of the team.”
The team kicks off its season Saturday against Radford at home. With much of last year’s squad back for 2021, the excitement for this year’s season is palpable.
“I’m just really excited to build off of all the success we had last season,” Tierney said. “We had a lot of success in half a season, so to hopefully be able to play a full season with a lot of that team and also the new additions with the freshmen, I’m really excited for that.”
Contact sports writer Gedd Constable at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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