February 16, 2010

This article appears in the February issue of Lacrosse Magazine. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 300,000-plus members today.

UVA Women Look to Each Other for Redemption

by Joel Censer | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

Virginia's Brittany Kalkstein leads the No. 10-ranked Wahoos into their season opener Saturday against No. 14 Loyola.

© Greg Wall


Completing a scavenger hunt and making gingerbread houses aren’t generally part of a lacrosse team’s offseason practice routine, but maybe they should be.

That’s the philosophy of Virginia coach Julie Myers, who made a point this fall of holding “Second Sundays,” monthly events where her team could come together over non-lacrosse activities.

Unsure why a team loaded with high-profile veteran talent limped to an 11-8 finish last year, including a first-round playoff exit, Myers decided it was important to foster off-the-field chemistry and a friendlier team environment.

“We wanted to focus on being better and more dependable teammates and friends,” Myers said. “We also wanted the kids to know it’s OK to make mistakes.”

Still, it would be foolish to think that the team’s time spent frosting gingerbread roofs and tracking down clues reflects a lack of talent. Indeed, the Cavs, who have always been able to poach top-tier recruits, have a full stable of hungry veterans and talented youth.

While the midfield will be led by senior captains Kaitlin Duff and Brittany Kalkstein, the keys to the offense will be turned over to sophomore Josie Owen, a former U.S. U-19 team star who waited in the wings last year.

“Josie should be the face of our attack. She’ll be a dynamic force behind the goal,” Myers said.
The biggest question mark is at goalie, where incumbent Lauren Benner, recently cleared after offseason shoulder surgery, will have to compete with freshman Kim Kolarik. A talented stopper from Riva, Md., Kolarik took all the repetitions this fall.

Seeing the negative impact that weighty expectations and a lack of cohesion can have on a team, the Cavs are taking a cue from their coach.

“We are taking each day at a time and really focusing on just enjoying one another,” Duff said.

Anything more would be, well, icing.

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