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The Greyhound

The Greyhound

The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

Women’s LAX preview: Team enters season wanting more


Four straight NCAA Tournament appearances. Four wins in the first round. Four losses in the second round. It would be an understatement to say that the Loyola University Maryland women’s lacrosse team is hungry for more success in postseason play.

After finishing the last six seasons with winning records and three conference titles (BIG EAST 2011 and 2012, Patriot League 2014), the Greyhounds enter their second year of Patriot League play with high expectations and plenty of momentum.

Head coach Jen Adams, in her eighth season with Loyola (79-37), has been a crucial piece to the Greyhounds’ consistent success. With her .681 winning percentage, she is placed among the top-25 active winningest coaches in women’s lacrosse. “We try to bring a lot of innovative ideas and new things to the game. We are always pushing the envelope and I think that’s a big part of why we have gotten to where we are so quickly,” said Coach Adams.

The Greyhounds are not only hoping to get past the second round of the NCAA Tournament, they’re hoping to go much, much farther.

Coach Adams expressed her confidence in this team stating, “I do believe we can go all the way and win a national championship. I think the one thing we have that has grown over the last few years is this real sense of hunger, to make it that next step further. To make it to the Final Four, to compete for a national championship because I think it’s tough for them. They go home, they put their head on their pillow and they wonder ‘What If’ and they have these regrets. This season is about playing to eliminate those.”

Behind a solid set of veterans, including senior attacks Annie Thomas and Hannah Schmitt, junior goalkeeper Molly Wolf, and senior midfielders Taryn VanThof and Sydney Thomas, Loyola will hope to achieve success against its non-conference opponents early on in the season. The team is once again sporting one of the nation’s toughest non-conference schedules. Loyola will face six teams before Patriot League play begins (on March 14 against Lafayette), five of which made the NCAA tournament last season. The list includes quarterfinalist Florida (on March 3) and semi-finalist Virginia (on March 11).

Senior captain Taryn VanThof, the first Loyola women’s player since 2007 to be selected to the Team USA roster, is already the Greyhounds’ all-time leader in draw controls (227) and has registered a point in 30 consecutive games.

VanThof talked about Loyola’s mindset for these tough matchups: “We’ve actually talked about it and what our mindset should be and it’s ‘we’re owning it.’ We’re here, we’re just as good as you and giving you our best Loyola lacrosse game.”

Coach Adams said, “I think it’s easy for the girls to say ‘I think we’re good, I think we’re good enough to go that far’ but to really believe it and to go out on the field, no matter who we’re playing, to step out there and stay true to who we are and committed to what we think we can do as a program is the tough part. Once we figure that out, this team is unstoppable.”

The Greyhounds are hoping to use their non-conference schedule to prepare for continued success in the Patriot League. VanThof says that the biggest takeaway after the non-conference games is, “The fact that we see that that’s where we belong. That’s who we should be playing and that’s who we want to be playing.”

As expected, Loyola was picked as the favorite in the preseason Patriot League poll after perfect play during its first season in the conference.

Last season, Loyola’s first year in the Patriot League, came after being a member of the BIG EAST. VanThof said of the team’s success in the transition, “We tried not to make it a transition. We tried to keep our level of play the same it’s always been and continue how we had been playing in the Big East as we began play in the Patriot League. I think we have showed that in the Patriot League, we’re here to dominate. And that’s what we did last season and that’s what we’re here to do this season.”

Coach Adams cited the first year in the Patriot League as being an “eye-opener” in terms of seeing how teams played against them. “It was an a lot slower game than maybe we were used to. People were trying to hold the ball against us rather than attack us so we weren’t familiar with that. It’s not how the BIG EAST plays. But it’s been good for us to get a completely different style and to have to learn different approaches to the game.”

“I think we go into this year with a stronger sense of what we can expect and we’ve changed some things up with our defense and offense, particularly for playing those PL teams. So we can counteract what they may end up trying to do,” said Coach Adams.

“I think coming off such a great season last year, it puts the pressure on ourselves to go ahead and make sure that we’re cleaning up some of the games that weren’t as good last year as they could have been. We want go in the Patriot League this year, remain undefeated and we want to win a Patriot League title. That’s our big goal and it’s nonnegotiable from our end. It’s something that we’re striving to do.”

In the Patriot League preseason poll, coming in second behind Loyola was Navy with 110 points and the remaining two first-place votes.

Boston University took third with 103 points, and was followed in order by Lehigh (77), Holy Cross (72), Colgate (67), Lafayette (39), American (32) and Bucknell (20).

Navy had been the powerhouse of the Patriot League before last season, when Loyola and Boston University became the strong, confident newcomers. Under head coach Cindy Timchal – who coached Coach Adams at Maryland – Navy will be looking to make a play at returning to the league marquee.

Coach Adams spoke about competing against Cindy, “I have such admiration that going up against her is sometimes a little bit of a shock. But at the same time, I think that Cindy instilled in me is that you always step on a field and you’re gonna compete. I never once thought anything other than we’re going out there and going for the ‘W.’”

Navy fell to Boston University in the semifinal Patriot League game, losing by one goal, which was scored in last 20 seconds of the game. When asked about the possibility of facing Timchal in the Patriot League tournament, possibly even in the championship this season, Coach Adams said, “I think that would be great, I love those opportunities. I think it would be a great experience to get that chance. And like I said, she taught me a little too well to go after the win as a player. So, that’s kind of a mindset that I’ve adopted as a coach and I think it serves well.”

“I think this year is anyone’s game. We’re a little wiser, but you’re also going to have top teams like Navy and BU wiser as well. All these Patriot League teams have had a look at Loyola and they’ve seen what we’re about. I think they’re going to be trying to figure out how they can get to us. It makes for an interesting season. We want to get out in front and always be the hunters, we don’t want to be the hunted.”

Loyola faces Navy on April 18 in its last regular season game. But Coach Adams says, “We really are trying to focus on things one game at a time this season. We won’t look past a team until that game is over.” The team may not be looking too far ahead in their schedule this season as they plan to live in the now.

But there is one thing the team is undoubtedly looking ahead towards and it can easily be summed up in four words: winning a national championship.

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Women’s LAX preview: Team enters season wanting more