Coach and captain set high expectations

The women’s lacrosse team has had two standouts this year: senior Jessica Roach and coach Jen Johnson.

Roach, one of the team’s co-captains, was the Corvias ECAC Division I New England player of the week for the week of March 17.  This is one of her many achievements of the past months. She was also America East offensive player of the week for the weeks of Feb. 16 and March 16. “Jess became a breakout player for us her sophomore year,” Johnson said. “She brings 100 percent work ethic every day, which has really helped her continue to improve and compete at a high level.”

The team has won their past five games against Central Connecticut State University, Dartmouth College, Sacred Heart University, Quinnipiac University and the University of Maryland Baltimore County.  Out of the 75 UVM goals from those games, Roach scored 27, according to UVM athletics.

“I’m an extremely motivated person, and since my freshman year I have remained determined to make an impact in college,”  Roach said.

Roach said her playing style has developed due to her drive to fulfill different roles on the team. “I focused mostly on being a threat from behind the net and working on my feeds,” Roach said. “I’ve developed my speed greatly since coming to college and my stick skills have improved a lot.” Roach said she fell in love with lacrosse “instantly,” and has never considered ending her career after high school.  “My competitive nature pushed me to play in college,” Roach said.

Johnson recently became the all-time most successful women’s lacrosse coach at UVM, according to UVM athletics. Johnson said she is grateful for both UVM and America East for providing the women’s lacrosse program with the funding necessary to become nationally recognized. “Because of the success we have built, it has allowed us to recruit top-tiered student athletes,” Johnson said.

Johnson said that she has learned a lot in her time as  coach, particularly how to adapt to different players and working  to “maximize success.” As a coach, Johnson said she admires her former mentors, including those for whom she played against and learned from.  She said her most influential mentor was the late Jim Bishop, who coached her when she was 12.

“I was the only girl on the team and he never treated me any differently,” Johnson said.  “He taught me to push myself and held me to a high standard, which helped me set a level of expectations for myself.  I have carried those with me since.”  Both Johnson and Roach said they plan to finish their season strong and hope to win an America East championship. “We have been focusing on improving each game and putting together a consistent 60-minute effort,” Johnson said.  “We have been looking to gain momentum as we start conference play this weekend.”

“My goals for the rest of the season are to keep playing strong,” Roach said.