By Ben Dickison, Staff Writer
For the first time in a decade and change (11 years to be exact), a new Xavier athletic program has embarked on its inaugural season.
Taking the field as this year’s spring magnolias bloom in Norwood: Xavier women’s lacrosse.
The fledgling conglomerate of stick-toting Musketeers have already partaken in two contests: The squad traveled to Eugene, Oregon for the program’s inaugural bout versus the Ducks of Oregon on Feb. 11 and hosted the Detroit Mercy Titans on a brisk vibrant day at Corcoran Field on Feb. 19.
For the latter fixture, Dr. Colleen Hancyz, president, gallivanted down to the home fortress, joined by a swath of Musketeer students and others loyal to the silver and navy.
The optimism and energy surrounding this new athletic venture was palpable.
While the Musketeers fell short in both high-octane matchups, there was a surplus of hopeful spells of play.
The Musketeers will not be short-handed regarding daunting opponents this season.
Aside from playing more than 60% of their games (eight of 13) on the open road, the Musketeers find themselves in one of the premier leagues in collegiate lacrosse, the Big East.
Lacrosse is a beautiful game, sometimes likened to an art form.
“It’s fluid. It’s fast. It’s aggressive yet controlled,” remarked Head Coach Meg Decker.
Decker had an illustrious playing career, including stints at both the United States Naval Academy, where she was named Division I Rookie of the Year and Loyola University in Maryland. At Maryland, she earned two All Big East selections. Among all of the arts, women’s lacrosse is perhaps most aligned with a phenomenon of the Renaissance period.
When discussing the intraconference foes Xavier will face this season, Decker likened their styles of play to “classical music” in that “the Xs and Os are on point,” and their execution of both offensive and defensive sets is textbook.
Decker finds herself extremely fond of the play style of Big East affiliate member Denver, comparing the Pioneer pounce as having a masterful grasp on the fundamentals of classic lacrosse while topping them with a creative, modern twist.
Decker likened the team to contemporary American violinist Lindsey Stirling, best known for her 2010 odyssey on “America’s Got Talen.”
Decker knows it will take time to accumulate congruent levels of fundamental aptitude to the perennial powerhouses of the Big East.
“In order to reach that goal, we need to get our classics locked in. Our job this year is to make sure we can play classic lacrosse with the best of them,” Decker said.
The roster for Xavier WLAX (as they have affectionately been dubbed) is relatively infant; the team is made up of 20 first-years, two sophomores and six upperclassmen.
Two of these upperclassmen, junior Dylan Halloran and graduate student Jessica Harrison, made the pilgrimage to the 513 along with Decker, whose time at Xavier is preceded by a position at helm of another virginal lacrosse program at Hartford University in Connecticut.
This group of semi-rookies have impressed the coaching staff with their enthusiasm, work ethic and possibly most notably, their superior speed and astounding athleticism.
This group may be raw and relatively inexperienced; however, they have the necessary tools to become a legitimate threat in the Big East in short order.
Decker is an experienced skipper who has the potential to orchestrate a “connected” lacrosse symphony as opposed to a “segmented” style that is commonplace among the programs of college athletics’ fastest growing sport.
Look for Decker and the Musketeers to skyrocket to an elite galaxy of lacrosse squads very early on in the program’s existence.