The Virginia Tech women’s lacrosse team — a rising program — is coming off a successful year and has high hopes going into the season.
The team's accomplishments in 2011 were unexpected, especially after the season began with coach Katrina Silva's surprise resignation. Then-assistant coach Megan Burker was promoted to interim head coach, and the Hokies went on to post a record of 10-8 — their first winning season since 1999.
Pleased with Burker's performance, the athletics department stripped the interim label from her title in the off-season, making her the full-time head coach.
Burker has raised the bar for the program.
“We feel that last year set a new standard for our program, where we can demand more consistency year to year with achieving a winning record,” Burker said. “Creating that standard will always keep us focused on every opponent. However, this season we want to reach for the next step.”
Last season, the Hokies came out of the gate hot, winning five of their first six games by an average margin of eight goals. Tech was playing well enough to earn the No. 20 ranking in the nation — the first time the Hokies were ever ranked in the top 25.
Tech has plenty of veteran leadership up on its roster, and the team has a chance to hit its stride.
The Hokies attack averaged more than 11 goals per game last season, and their offense should be just as potent thanks to returning starters Morgan Widlake and Ryan Rotanz. However, it won’t be all fun and games for the Hokies, especially in the ACC.
“The ACC is a very strong conference,” Rotans said, “To find success against these strong teams we need to take control of the game, possess the ball more and finish each possession with a goal.”
In the ACC, no conference game is an easy one. Teams like Maryland, Duke, North Carolina, Boston College and Virginia are regulars in the top 10, and Tech must go through them if it wants to be an elite team.
On the other end of the field, the Hokies will have more veteran leadership in starting defenders Julie Wolfinger, Kristin Semones and Christina Patten, who is returning after missing all of last year with an Achilles injury.
The last line of defense for the Hokies is standout goalkeeper Alex Gale, who was named co-MVP last season and is now in her second full year as starter. Last year, Gale had a knack for showing up big whenever the team needed her, especially in tough ACC
Gale, like the rest of the team, is ready to get the season started.
“After four weeks of preseason behind us, we have been dying to get in some game play,” she said. “Everyone has been coming out to practice with a lot of energy and anticipation.”
The Hokies started their season with a 21-4 blowout over Presbyterian and a 18-18 victory over High Point. Senior midfielder Jessica Nonn and junior midfielder Brooke Martin lead the team in scoring with 10 points apiece.
Tech’s next game is tomorrow against William & Mary.