Sports

Women’s lacrosse flies west for mile-high showdown over break

Hoping to defend record, undefeated Bears square off against Buffaloes and Pioneers on the road

By
Sports Editor
Friday, March 21, 2014

The women’s lacrosse team is only six games into its 2014 campaign, yet the squad has already made program history. With four nonconference and two Ivy League wins, the squad is undefeated — the best start of all time for Brown women’s lacrosse.

The blistering beginning has included a win over then-No. 16 Princeton and three blowouts by double digits. But the squad faces its toughest nonconference test of the season this weekend — a two-game weekend against the University of Colorado (4-4) and the University of Denver (6-1).

Colorado is a respectable .500 in its inaugural season but recently dropped two games in an East Coast series against the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (17-4) and the University of New Hampshire (14-11). Denver, on the other hand, has flirted with the national rankings this season, and its meeting with the Bears will be the first in program history.

“We’re really looking to go out west and play our game,” co-captain Bre Hudgins ’14 said. She called the road trip a “great test to see if we can stay true to Brown lacrosse” in difference circumstances and new styles of play.

Hudgins has been at the center of the hot start, ranking first on the team and second in the conference in goals with 20. Hudgins spearheads the highest-scoring offense in the Ancient Eight. The Bears fill the stat sheet with a well-balanced attack. Four Bears — Ali Kim ’17, Janie Gion ’15, Hudgins and Danielle Mastro ’14 — rank in the league’s top 10 in shooting percentage, and Gion and Mastro are also among the premier assisters.

The accomplished Bruno offense will square off against two of the country’s best goalkeepers. Colorado’s fifth-in-the-nation Paige Soenksen saves 10.75 shots per start, and Denver’s Hannah Hook boasts the seventh-best save percentage in Division I with a .534 mark. While the keepers have compiled impressive statistics, Hudgins said the Bears don’t worry about numbers, and they are used to facing top goalies.

“We shoot against one of the best goalies in the Ivy League every day in practice,” Hudgins said. “We’re very fortunate to get that preparation.”

But if the top-ranked goalies manage to contain Hudgins and the rest of the offense, the Bears’ defense might still keep them in the game. In the cage, Bruno has a playmaker of its own. Kellie Roddy is the only Ivy goalie to corral more than half the shots fired at her, posting a .526 save percentage. Making the Bruno back line all the more dangerous, the Bears’ defenders have together scored a conference-high 7.33 goals per game.

“Our success this season has honestly come from the defense. As attackers, we take a lot of the intensity from the defense’s turnovers,” Hudgins said.

The contests give the Bears needed experience against the nation’s top tier before returning to Ivy play next weekend. Four conference foes rank in the top 25 in the NCAA Ratings Percentage Index.