Underdogs embracing versatility on journey to playoffs

Fresno State's Kyleigh Westgarth during a match against New Zealand on Oct. 18, 2016 at the Fresno State Soccer and Lacrosse Field. (Khone Saysamongdy/The Collegian)

The Fresno State women’s lacrosse team has one goal: Playoffs.

The lacrosse team began practicing a month in advance of the upcoming season – three hours a day — weekends included. The Bulldogs have 19 returning players, including 14 letterwinners and four seniors. The team added 10 freshmen.

Last season, the Bulldogs came up short in a number of games, but head coach Jessica Giglio said the team is ready to settle some unfinished business. Last season ended with a 5-10 record.

“I think they’ve invested more. I feel like the off time when they come back, it’s the best we’ve ever come back from vacation from holiday break, and I think that makes it a little easier,” Giglio said. “I think the more that you unite for a common goal, the easier it is to rally against someone.”

Giglio said that common goal is the playoffs.

Caroline Dineen-Carlson, a senior psychology major and second-year captain, said she’s excited to start the season.

“We’ve been playing the same people, just our team, for the past two months, so I’m excited to play someone else and kind of get to showcase what we’ve been practicing,” Dineen-Carlson said. “I’m excited to make it to playoffs. I think this year’s the year. I really think that.”

The team ranked second to last in the preseason Mountain Pacific Sports Federation coaches’ poll .

Alex White, a senior broadcast major and first-year captain said the Bulldogs are ranked below a team they had beaten.

“It kind of makes you a little bit angry and kind of fuels the fire when you’re practicing, but at the same time we know how well we’re playing and we know what we’re capable of,” White said. “So we’re not really worried. We’re actually really excited to be the underdog and to prove everyone wrong.”

White said it’s encouraging that the freshmen are stepping up and fitting into the program.

In order for the Bulldogs to make it to the playoffs, they must place in the top six of their conference of nine teams.

“I think this year we’re more versatile as a team, but we have a lot of people that are stepping up to the plate. We’re kind of using everybody on attack and all around the field,” Carlson said. “So I think people in our conference are going to be surprised with us this year. I think we have a lot to offer.”

“4-24” is the team motto.

“It’ll be April 24 if we’re still playing and practicing by then, that means we made it to conference playoffs.” White said.

The season begins Friday, Feb. 10, at 5 p.m. at the Fresno State Soccer and Lacrosse Field.

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