336 Days 1 Goal

GVL Archive / Eric Coulter
Sophomore Hanna Dinnian (15) and Junior Alex Davis (19) control the ball during last weeks match up with Wayne State

GVL Archive / Eric Coulter Sophomore Hanna Dinnian (15) and Junior Alex Davis (19) control the ball during last weeks match up with Wayne State

Derek Wolff

While March is often associated around Grand Valley State University with springtime, basketball and the final crunch before finals, members of the varsity lacrosse program had another reason to celebrate the month.

The official countdown to the team’s 2012 program-opening debut against Pfeiffer University on March 1, 2012 is down to just 336 days as of today. That fact has resonated well with the team, which has been training since tryouts in September 2010 while actively recruiting freshmen from several states.

Now that the team has eclipsed the one-year mark in waiting, excitement and anxiety to play in its first varsity game has gripped the team, said Alexia O’Connor, freshman defender and first recruiting class member.

“I am beyond ecstatic and cannot wait for the (2012) season,” O’Connor said. “We’ve put a lot of time and hard work in already, and I think because we’ve had that and still have a year more we will be strong as a team.”

Although the final roster is not yet set in stone, the team is made up of former GVSU club lacrosse players as well as recruited freshmen from the 2010 class. Joining them will be 17 athletes from the 2011 class, hailing from Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, Maryland and New York.

Women’s lacrosse is GVSU’s 20th varsity sport, and on the heels of the school’s legacy of winning and competitive nature, the program hopes to accomplish the same level of success.

GVSU head coach Alicia Groveston said she hopes to model her team off of Division I powerhouse Northwestern University and the team’s preparation and focus should allow players to easily acclimate to playing competitive lacrosse at the Division II level.

“We want to be the premier school for lacrosse in the Midwest for Division II,” Groveston said. “Northwestern has set the bar high in this region, and we can only hope to be as successful as they have become. Our preparation is what will carry us through, and I know that our student athletes have the drive and passion to achieve greatness.”

That passion and enthusiasm is reflected amongst the players, who show up in the morning four to five times a week for practice even though the first game is still almost a full year away.

“We have made a lot of progress and learned more about executing plays at the Division II college level,” said Trisha Blake, a junior defender. “We’ve learned more about each other in the process too, which has been great in going forward. We feel really prepared and know that GVSU instills and expects greatness from their teams and athletes.”

Sophomore midfielder Allyson Fritts played for the club team last year and is hopeful of making the varsity squad.

“Playing club was very enjoyable, but varsity has helped take my game to another level and is more competitive,” Fritts said. “It’s always been a dream of mine to play a varsity sport. The learning experience from this year and building and getting closer as a team has been great and I think that all of that will pay off next season.”

The Lakers will play independent of a conference during their first season. Only Tiffin and Lake Erie having varsity squads from the GLIAC.

Groveston and her staff, who will actively spend many weeknights and weekends watching high school lacrosse games this spring, remain undeterred about the team’s lack of experience going into their first varsity game come March 2012.

“We know creating a program from the ground up will have its challenges, but playing in our first few games will not be one of them,” she said. “Our student athletes will have worked so hard for so long that March 1, 2012 is a day I am so thrilled for to arrive.”

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