Though the collegiate lacrosse stronghold famously lies on the East Coast, the fast-paced sport exists at UCLA, too – specifically as a women’s club team.
Now, after an 8-4 run during the regular season, UCLA club lacrosse will head to Round Rock, Texas, to compete in the Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Associates national tournament from May 8 to 12.
The Bruins lost four then-seniors after the 2016-2017 season – all of whom were starters. Jackie Adelsberg was one of those, and she was one of the most important players on the roster, winning WCLA Defensive Player of the Year in 2017.
Senior goalie Andi Wong said she doesn’t feel this year’s team is worse without those key players. And although this year’s team is now significantly younger, they still boast one of the best records of the 12 teams in the Western Women’s Lacrosse League.
“The team is definitely different from last year,” said junior attacker Karina Yamasaki. “Because we are a younger team, we rely on each other more rather than trying to take over on attack or defense.”
Yamasaki also said she thinks the team’s recently developed camaraderie will serve them well in the upcoming tournament, too.
“Last year it was a lot of one person had one thing … and they’re just going to do that,” Yamasaki said. “This year we’re trying to push each other to step out of our comfort zones … so that we’re stronger and more capable when we come to these important games.”
So far this year UCLA has outscored its opponents 139-109, beating other Division I teams like Pittsburgh and San Diego State. Wong said the disparity in goals scored to goals allowed is mostly due to how well the team’s defense has developed over the course of the season.
“Our defense is really starting to play as a unit rather than as individuals,” Wong said. “Our (biggest improvement has been) timing on defense in terms of hitting those slides and being there at the correct moment.”
Their newfound chemistry will come in handy on the weekend, as the No. 10-seeded UCLA will face a plethora of other Division I teams from the East Coast, starting off with No. 7 seed Virginia on Wednesday.
“Something that will help us is being a lower seed because in previous years we have been ranked higher and lost in the first round,” said junior defender Lauren Bernardy. “I think we can use that and be an underdog because we do have potential to hang with the top teams.”