FLC lax: Stuck in the middle

Steve Lewis/Durango Herald file photo

Ellie Carpenter, Kathryn Dunn and Fort Lewis have built their strength on defense, and the Skyhawks will try and use that to power them to a victory over undefeated Lindenwood today.

By Jim Sojourner Herald staff writer

If the Western Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association were a pie, it would have a fluffy frosting, a chewy filling and a tough and solid crust.

Colorado Mesa and McKendree would make up the fluff; Regis and Lindenwood would play the crust.

The Fort Lewis College women’s lacrosse team, meanwhile, would gel with Adams State as the chewy filling.

This year as in years past, the Skyhawks find themselves occupying the soft center of the WILA standings, having beat Colorado Mesa 14-13 to open the season and McKendree 17-2 on March 12. The Skyhawks also beat Adams State 10-4 on March 2, but they got chewed up by Regis 16-7 in February, then again 17-9 in FLC’s home opener on March 23.

The Skyhawks (4-4, 3-2 WILA) get another shot at the crust today when they host Lindenwood at 3 p.m. at Ray Dennison Memorial Field, a team that they’re 0-2 against since the Lions joined the conference last year.

But head coach Kelsey MacDonald said ingredients aren’t what’s missing as the Skyhawks try to prove they belong in the WILA’s top tier.

They just need a dollop of confidence to tie it all together.

“We have the skill, we have the players, and we have the heart to do it,” MacDonald said. “I think it is confidence. I think it’s realizing that we’re a great team.”

The Skyhawks have flourished with that confidence at times this season, just not frequently enough to pull out tough games in spite of some strong displays of skill.

“It’s really individual confidence and team unity,” junior Amanda Cawker said. “We’re really talented ... but our confidence isn’t always there.

Against Regis on March 23, FLC won the second half 5-4 by not falling into Regis’ run-and-gun offense, which sliced through the Skyhawks’ defense in the first frame.

To win the second half, Fort Lewis had to trust itself to play its own style of lacrosse, and that will remain true against Lindenwood, which also plays fast-running lacrosse.

“We need to go out (today) and play Fort Lewis lacrosse,” MacDonald said.

“Just show up and play our game,” senior defender Jenna Steele said.

What does that look like?

Stiff defense, hustle plays and a spread-out, methodical attack.

The foundation for the Skyhawks, now at the halfway point of the year, has been defense, led by the turnover-creating and groundball-scooping Cawker and Katlyne Duffey, while Steele – the team’s only senior – fills the leadership role in the back.

“I think it’s the fact that defense has a little more time under our belt,” Cawker said of the strong defensive play this season.

On attack, MacDonald said she’s not looking to anyone in particular, since the Skyhawks’ style demands good passing to spread the field and take advantage of weak points in the opposing defense.

“Any player could have a breakout game,” she said. “It’s not realliy one person; it’s us as a team. On attack, it really is just our attack as a whole.”

So far this season, Jessica Norby leads the team in points at 18 with 11 goals and nine assists, while Ally Kvidera, who became the first FLC player to hit the 100-career-goals mark in March against Regis, has 11 goals and seven assists.

Steele said if both offense and defense can keep the intensity up – “Make everything game-like (in practice). Pretend that everyone on the field is that Lindenwood or that Regis girl – the Skyhawks have a shot to top the Lions today and break into the WILA crust.

“It’s an interesting situation because we’re about halfway through the season,” MacDonald said. “We could easily go 7-0 in our last seven games.”

The first of those seven will have to come today.

jsojourner@durangoherald.com

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