BUENA VISTA, Va.—Heading into its first season as a competitive program and leaving behind its status as a club sport, the Southern Virginia University women's lacrosse team is poised for a strong start both as an NCAA program and as a member of the Capital Athletic Conference.
First-year head coach Jordan Sorensen recognizes the challenges ahead for his team and the level of competition the CAC poses. While young, the team is ready to give its best effort and compete at the high standard its new conference will require.
As the first original lacrosse members of Southern Virginia University, how has this senior class progressed in helping build the program?
Sorensen: The nice thing about our seniors is they have really been here since the beginnings when we were nothing. They've seen it build from the ground up, which has been exciting for them, and it's also given them a little bit of ownership over the team. They put that into every practice, all the workouts and make sure they are leading up in the right direction. They worked hard in the off season. In all honesty, it was one thing that I noticed they not only worked hard on their skills but also on making sure that they could play to the ability that they wanted to for their last year. That was one of the things that really impressed me that they took it serious.
We have two seniors. What do you expect out of them as far as leadership?
Sorensen: I expect them to be the examples. The best leaders aren't always the ones that are most vocal - sometimes they are the ones who can quietly get things done and show how they are supposed to be done. We get both out of our seniors; they are vocal and make sure to help guide the team and they're great examples off the field about what to do as far as time management. We are a very young team - we expect our seniors to really help guide them and show them how to maintain themselves as college players at the NCAA DIII level. It has been an exciting role to see so many young players adapt to the game.
We have a fairly new team. Who do you expect to be key players this season?
Sorensen: We have a lot of newcomers this year. That is the art of building a program. You have to start new and young at some point and let those players develop into your senior captains and leaders in the future. We have been lucky enough to get a handful of transfers, which helps infuse a little bit more experience and leadership. We're a very young team and seeing how they respond to certain situations is going to be critical to the path for our team.
The women's lacrosse team typically has multiple dual sport athletes. How do you integrate them to the team?
Sorensen: When you pick up dual-sport athletes, the first thing you want to do is gauge their priorities and figure out what their main sport is. If their main sport is not lacrosse, then you know where their priorities lie. Helping them enjoy the sport and be in a position where they can be contributing members of the team while maintaining their loyalty to their priority sport is critical to dual-sport athletes. One thing I always say is, 'You're all in or you're all out.' We expect our players, regardless of how many sports they play, that when it's lacrosse time it's lacrosse time.
We will be facing opponents in the Capital Athletic Conference for the first time. What do you expect before and during the conference season?
Sorensen: The CAC is one of the best conferences for women's lacrosse and all of NCAA DIII. We have a tough slate ahead of us. I expect us to pick up a couple wins and really build a foundation of both offense and defense that we can carry into future years. We are still a very, very young team. My expectation is to play good defense and good transition defense regardless if they are the No. 1-ranked team in the nation or just a regular opponent.
This is the first year spring sports will have an opportunity to play under lights. How will it affect the team's performance?
Sorensen: It won't affect actual physical performance on the team more than it will the emotional side. There is an excitement that comes with playing under the lights. That will carry over to our attitude on the field and hopefully a little bit to our chemistry, as well. We're excited – it's going to be a lot of fun.
This is your first year as head coach of the women's lacrosse team and third year on staff. What changes have you made to the program?
Sorensen: With the introduction of Jason lamb as the program's director he's been able to give us some really good guidance and different ways we can take advantage of our practice time a little better. The biggest change that we have had from the last two years to this year is going from club to varsity - there is a different expectation. As a coach we can expect more from varsity D-III players than we can from club players, so that has been a huge change in the culture of the program that has been nothing but positive.
What improvements do you hope to make between now and before the first match of the season?
Sorensen: The biggest thing we want to focus on is being aware. It's the No. 1 thing we're going to be working on. We're going to be working on fundamentals, but just being able to be aware of your surroundings, aware of the situation and having the ability to adapt to whatever situation the field will throw at you so that we can play together as a unit. It's going to be a fun year.