Women’s lacrosse unanimous pick for CCIW title

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By: Matt Wegh, Managing Editor

For the first time in the history of the program, the Illinois Wesleyan women’s lacrosse team is picked to finish first in the CCIW, according to the annual CCIW coaches’ poll. The team, going into its fourth season after becoming an official sport at IWU in 2015, has steadily climbed to the peak of the conference in the short time it has been on campus.

Under the leadership of head coach Lindsey Kellar, the Titans have improved year after year. After a relatively unsuccessful — yet still productive — 7-9 inaugural campaign in 2015, IWU has improved to 15-4 in 2016 and 14-6 in last year’s run. Though last season had a slightly lower win percentage than the previous year, 78% in 2016 and 70% in 2017, it was still a tremendous improvement for the program.

“The players and alum who have been a part of the program since the beginning have continued to pass on the traditions, values and culture of Titan women’s lacrosse,” Coach Kellar said, “Each season our program has attained and surpassed the goals of our program.”

In the 2017 season, the Titans won their first ever CCIW Tournament Title, after finishing second in the CCIW regular season behind Augustana College. For winning the CCIW Tournament, the team also earned the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. This NCAA appearance was also a first for the program.
“If I could use one word to describe going to the NCAA tournament, it would be unreal,” said Junior midfielder and team captain Grainne Kelly, “Our team pushed the limits for what we could do, and it brought us to a place that were striving to return to this season.”

Although their NCAA appearance ended in a 16-10 loss to Rhodes College, the playoff atmosphere was an excellent experience for the players. This once-young IWU team has the knows what it takes to win the CCIW and go to the tournament, which will prove invaluable going into the season. “Going into this season as the team to beat rather than the being the underdog feels amazing,” Coach Kellar said, “that being said, our players know that first place is not going to be handed to us, and that we have to work even harder this season if we want to keep that number one spot.”

Much to the benefit of the program, after the Titans successful 2017 season, the team only graduated one senior. Although that senior was Maggie Krause, who is the career leader at IWU in points and led the team with a record-setting 74 last season, the team has deep talent they believe can make up for the loss. Kelly finished right behind Krause last season with 72 points, and will be a big part of the puzzle for the Titans this season offensively.

“I think we’ve adjusted our offense accordingly,” Kelly said.
“We have a lot of talent in our freshmen who bring new strengths to our attack. That along with the versatility of our returning players put us in a good position to pick up where Maggie left off.”

On the other side of the field, senior goaltender and other team captain Claire Quist will be minding the defense.
Quist, in her fourth season as IWU’s starter between the pipes, is coming off of an eventful junior season where she was named First Team All CCIW, and Second Team All-Great Lakes Region. Her .478 save percentage ranked first in the CCIW among goaltenders who played 10 games or more.

“While it’s nice to get individual recognition, the biggest sources of my confidence in net are my teammates and the defense,” Quist said, “I’m confident in myself knowing they’ve got my back every second of every game.”

The Titans began their season on Wednesday, Feb. 21 in a scrimmage at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.
The regular season gets underway next Wednesday, Feb. 28 as IWU takes on Monmouth College at Tucci Stadium.