Women’s lacrosse opens their 2016 conference slate

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Sophomore attacker Becca Olsen chases a loose ball in the Cats’ March 19 win over Siena College. The team recently started America East conference play. PHOTO COURTESY UVM ATHLETICS

The women’s lacrosse team opened their conference season March 26 against the same team that ended their season last year.

UVM suffered an overtime loss to the University of Albany in last year’s America East tournament, according to UVM athletics.

The Cats are hoping to do even better than last year in the 2016 season.

UVM began their regular season Feb. 15 against Bryant University.   

They faced some challenges in their pre-conference games, falling to the hands of three strong teams on the  west coast, including No. 11 University of Southern California, according to UVM athletics.

But the Cats came back to the East Coast and finished pre-conference play with two wins against Quinnipiac University and Siena College, prior to the team’s conference opener against Albany.

Head coach Jennifer Johnson said she is confident of the team’s ability, especially after a promising beginning from the younger members of the team.

“We have a new team this year and we’re a lot younger,” Johnson said. “So we’ve had to make some minor adjustments, and it’s a lot about them getting to know one another on and off the field.”

She said she believes youth and versatility will be key to the team’s success this year.

“I think we have a lot of skill in a lot of different positions,” Johnson said, “so again, it’s about getting those younger players experience and building momentum for the season.”

Although the new Catamounts will play a significant role in the team’s success this season, the Cats also have firepower from the returning players.

Two games into conference play, senior midfielder Vanessa VanderZalm has tallied 24 goals.

VanderZalm entered her final season at UVM with 114 goals in only 52 appearances, according to UVM athletics.

Now she’s added another 24 just two games into America east conference play.

The team pulled out a couple wins in their non-conference portion of the schedule, and according to VanderZalm, they are looking to continue that success into conference play.

“We’ve gotten in two good wins, and we’re hoping to build off that,” she said.

“We’ve just been working on things we think we have to build on from our last games.”

VanderZalm said that the team’s start to the season has not been perfect, however, the team will look to  improve.

“Although we had wins,” she said, “there’s always things we can build on, and of course the things we didn’t do well from the games we lost.”

The Cats’ conference opener was against none other than Albany, whom the Cats shared an overtime thriller with last year, unfortunately ending the Cats’ season almost one year ago.

This game was not quite as close as last year’s matchup, as the Cats fell 18-6 at home in their first game under the lights at Virtue Field, according to UVM athletics.

In their second conference game April 2 against Stony Brook University, UVM fell again, this time by the score of 19-8, according to UVM athletics.

So far in conference play, neither Albany nor Stony Brook has lost a game, according to the America East site.

The Cats will play their next game at home April 6 against UMass Lowell.