Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications
By Bennett Conlin
JMU lacrosse opened its season with a 15-7 loss to No. 2 UNC. There’s no shame in losing to one of the nation’s best teams, and Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe’s squad still has a promising season ahead.
JMU enters this year as the CAA preseason favorite. Of the seven teams in the league, the Dukes have staked their claim as the best for the past several seasons.
Five Dukes made the preseason All-CAA team with goalkeeper Molly Dougherty, defender Emma Johnson, attacker Maddie McDaniel, attacker Logan Brennan and midfielder Logan Brennan all making the select roster.
It’s a deep JMU attack, which hopes to lead a potent offense that struggled at times a season ago.
JMU also entered the season ranked 17th nationally, showing the national relevance of the 2018 national champs.
While this doesn’t quite look like a national title team, the Dukes hold plenty of weapons and certainly have the pieces to make an NCAA Tournament run this season. It’s a good group.
Players to watch
Outside of the All-CAA selections, there are a few Dukes who deserve your attention.
Charlotte Haggerty – The junior midfielder was the only Duke to score multiple times against UNC — she scored three goals. She played in all 43 possible games as a freshman and sophomore, and she’s ready as a junior to become one of the better players in the country. She’s going to be special for the next two years.
Isabella Peterson – The freshman attacker from Sparks, Maryland, scored one goal against the Tar Heels, and she’s a solid recruit. She possesses good athleticism and size, and she made the CAA Academic Honor roll in the fall semester, her first as a Duke. She appears ready for college lacrosse on and off the field in her first year in Harrisonburg.
Lizzy Fox – A member of the CAA All-Rookie Team last year, Fox gives the Dukes another young talent at midfield. She’s quick and makes smart plays. She’s already one of the team’s best players, and she’s only a sophomore. The future is bright.
With an opening loss to UNC in the books, JMU’s schedule gets significantly easier until facing No. 8 Virginia and No. 1 Maryland in an 11-day span. Until then, the Dukes face the Hokies and High Point as major tests.
The sheer volume of road contests is also jarring. The Dukes face numerous good teams away from Harrisonburg. When April rolls around, the Dukes will be well prepared for whatever challenges CAA play presents.
JMU is good. How good remains to be seen, but with a few marquee players set to return next season, the future is bright. Don’t be surprised to see the Dukes return to the Final Four in the next 3-5 years.