Feb 1, 2013, 12:39 AM EDT
With the season rapidly approaching, I recently caught up with women’s lacrosse head coach Christine Halfpenny to discuss the continued progress of the Irish as practices and preseason games continue leading up to the opener against Stanford. There is a great deal of disparity this year with the few best teams concentrated at the top of the NCAA while the rest of the contenders are in a free-for-all to decide who can make up the second tier of ranked teams. The Irish should fit right in with the nation’s elite and based on what Coach Halfpenny has said about her confidence in the 2013 team, this season has a chance to be something special.
How have you progressed in the offseason?
“We are in the middle of week three in the preseason right now. We still have another week of preseason play before where we are constantly putting in new concepts as we prepare for our first game at Stanford in Palo Alto. Our evening practices have been awesome in seeing the progress we have made in just a few weeks. We are working hard to get our freshmen into the fold. We want to build that chemistry with our deep team and look for that important consistency. Our offense and defense have been competitive against one another giving that game-like feel. We have played some high-pressure sets, resulting from hammering out those motor and muscle memory drills. We are playing at high speeds and if we make mistakes, at least we make these mistakes with conviction. We are very excited.”
Who has emerged as your leaders and players to watch?
“Leadership is a constant evolution this year. Leadership will come through how this team plays, so we are working on our on-field communication. We named junior Margaret Smith and senior Jenny Granger captains and they are doing a really nice job. We have enhanced our leadership ability with a supporting leadership counsel. We need to keep pushing ourselves out of that comfort zone in order to continue to evolve throughout this season. We nabbed some top recruits a few years ago, which had big seasons last year.
Margaret Smith is a player to watch at midfield. At the end of the day, she is a competitor and has outstanding skills. She can really change the momentum of a game. Our offense has great scoring power. Jenny Granger will have a breakout season. Her pace of play is much different than seasons in the past. She really has a newfound confidence. Barb Sullivan has incredible athletic ability as a 5’10 defender. Other players around her have really stepped up. Leah Gallagher has been a wonderful surprise for us. She has been on fire, an incredible spark and a consistent communicator. Kaitlyn Brosco has been the same on offense. All these players should make an immediate impact to start out the season and translate to our team’s success.”
How is this team different than in your first year?
“Every year is different. We will refer to those building blocks from last year because if it isn’t broke, why fix it? This team’s personality is different. It is a very interesting group. They come to work and it is unbelievable. Sometimes they are so serious that it is hard to tell if they are having fun. We are executing early on this year, which is something we didn’t really do as well last year. We put in a great deal of offseason work and there is more confidence in our conditioning and fitness levels. We are still defining the personality of this group. We have some fun banter between both sides of the ball. The playing style might have some different looks but the cornerstones of our program are back in place from last year. We have a solid, high-pressure defense and a spread out, high-octane offense. This team will tap into its athletic ability. It’s a different energy this year. A third of this team is made up of freshmen so they bring their naïve competitiveness to the mix as well.”
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