March 20, 2009

Davidson Slowed by Injuries After Hot Start

by Steven Russolillo | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

Davidson women's lacrosse rookie head coach Kim Wayne has two goals for the remainder of the season: stay healthy and match last year's record win total.

The Wildcats (5-4) have been hit with the injury bug of late, losing senior Becky Horton and freshman Erin Keitel to torn ACLs. But the team has stayed competitive despite the injuries and aims to at least match the 11-5 mark set last season.

Wayne, settling in at her first-ever head coaching position, says she's grateful for how responsive her players have been during her rookie campaign.

"I lucked out to have such a great group of girls who took to me right away," she says. "The fact that my student athletes were so excited to have me on board really helps make my transition as easy as possible."

Wayne joined the Wildcats last July after working as an assistant coach the past two years at Columbia University. Prior to that, she was also an assistant coach at Johns Hopkins University. She was a four-year starter at Syracuse earlier this decade.

Davidson won five of its first seven games to begin the season. But the injuries have hurt the team's depth, and the back end of the schedule only gets harder.

The Wildcats suffered a 20-3 drubbing on Sunday at No. 20 Loyola. Junior midfielder Jen Crawford, who'll be forced to pick up much of the scoring slack with Horton and Keitel sidelined, scored her team-leading 18th and 19th goals of the season in the defeat.

Davidson returned home for a game against Marist on Wednesday, losing 11-9, before embarking on a four-game road trip. The Wildcats then return home for two consecutive games against Duke and Stanford, two top-20 women's lacrosse programs. Wayne says she'll be interested to see how her squad, an independent program, will match up against two top-caliber schools by season's end.  
Davidson is one of seven independent women's lacrosse programs that are unaffiliated with any of the Division I conferences. The Wildcats have the best record among the group, while Longwood (4-3) and Le Moyne (3-4) are the only other independent programs with more than one win this season. Davidson travels to Longwood for a Saturday showdown.

Wayne says she's extremely grateful for the head coaching opportunity and looks forward to recruiting her own players and building her own program. "I'm not looking to the future; I'm just looking to today," she says. "I'm looking to the recruits this year and the recruits in future years. I want to be here to coach those recruits."

She's also working hard at keeping her players motivated for the remainder of the season and making sure they don't lose focus.

"My players are here because they want to be here," Wayne says. "They aren't given scholarships to come here. They love the sport and they love the school, and that's why they play. I want them to continue to remember why they chose to play at Davidson." 

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