JMU vs Drexel

JMU senior Elena Romesburg fights Drexel defenders for an opportunity to score.

With the best 12-game start in JMU history, the lacrosse team sits at 11-1 after cruising past its first two CAA opponents, Delaware and Drexel. In certain occasions, one might be able to credit one specific athlete for this achievement, however the team as a whole is credited for being incredibly consistent.

JMU’s offense was explosive in Sunday’s game, taking control against Drexel early. The Dukes forced the Dragons to a scoreless first half, raking up their 12th  goal while the Dragons only managed to get their first. The game ended in a 15-2 win for the Dukes with 27 shots on goal, six assists and 10 free position shots.

“Everyone is working for each other, seeing each other’s strong suits and making an effort to showcase them,” senior attacker Kristen Gaudian said. “So for me, people were moving through, creating the lane, giving me room to dodge and we were doing that for everyone on the field today.”

Although a strong offense is very important, adding goals to the scoreboard is only half the battle. Drexel had a hard time against the JMU defense as the Dukes caused 9 turnovers, were 19-20 in clearing the ball and forced low-angled shots for redshirt freshman goalkeeper Molly Dougherty to save.

“[The key to the game was] consistency between our defensive and offensive unit,” sophomore defender Emma Johnson said. “We had a little drag in the first 10 minutes, but we were about to bounce back and connect up the field.”

The Dukes’ lineup has proven to be consistent this year by allowing freshmen and sophomores to finish out games and allowing freshmen to start against CAA opponents.

“One of the things we are learning about this team is we are starting to be able to trust in our consistency,” head coach Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe said. “Each individual is doing the work to get themselves ready, and it’s a great feeling to have. It’s just making sure that as we continue to grow our confidence that we’re still willing to do the work.”

With the strong start of the season and a 2-0 conference record, the Dukes anxiously await the rest of regular season. With the talk of consistency, it’s crucial to have a stable mindset as JMU travels through the season in order to have a successful postseason.

“We see it as our second phase of our season,” Klaes-Bawcombe said. “Really trying to break the season up into small segments to keep them focused, keep them grounded. So, we just finished our first segment, non-conference, we’re now on our second segment conference and depending on how we fare here dictates our postseason, which would be the third segment.”

As the Dukes prepare for the games to come, they understand that although they played the first two games of CAA tremendously, they can’t undermine the rest of the conference and will need to continue to work hard in preparation for the future.

“You can’t look at anyone in the CAA softly,” Gaudian said. “We need to prepare this week and refocus ourselves for the upcoming games.”

The Dukes face in-state competitors William & Mary this Friday at 5 p.m. in Williamsburg then will head south to North Carolina to play Elon at 1 p.m. this Sunday.

Contact Paige Ellenberger atellenbps@dukes.jmu.edu. For more lacrosse coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.