Michigan State Outlook for the 2012 Season

EAST LANSING The landscape in East Lansing has dramatically changed for the Michigan State women's lacrosse team this year. The Spartans sport a new roster, a first-year coach and a spring schedule that would make any athletic director shake their head.

The Spartans begin the 2012 spring campaign indoors, away from the cold winds of Winter in the Midwest, as they are currently gearing up to travel to Southern California in mid-February and preparing to tackle one of their most difficult schedules in recent memory.

The Spartans head west for the annual University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB) Shootout February 17 and open play against the No. 1 ranked, pre-season favorite UCLA, while challenging Oregon, Arizona State and Duke over the same weekend.

"We play UCLA right out of the gun, they played in last year's national championship and return 90 percent of their starters ... I am not sure that was a smart idea," said Greg Normand, Michigan State's new head coach. "But, you've heard this before, you have to play the best to compete with the best, so I thought it was a good idea that we didn't ease our way into the schedule ... and we're certainly not being bashful."

And if the first taste of competition isn't tough enough, the Spartans return home from California only to travel to Pittsburgh the following weekend to face two Top 10 ranked teams in Pittsburgh and Virginia. "Insane is probably the only way to describe this schedule, but we will be ready for the upcoming spring if we can survive this competitive gauntlet," Normand said.

The first six games for Michigan State are against five teams ranked in the Top 25, according to LaxPower, the sports' recognized expert in such matters. But there is some hope for optimism because the Spartans had a decent fall schedule, and there's been enough of a change in personnel, who don't know about the team's difficulties the past several years, to make an immediate culture change in the locker room.

The Spartan's finished the 2011 Women's Collegiate Lacrosse League (WCLL) schedule at 3-9 and didn't make the league playoffs for the first time in recent years. Something had to be done to turn this program around, which left an unlikely face staring back at her teammates when the year concluded.

Liz Mroz, a talented midfielder from Rochester (MI), was elected president of the club and she began the job of turning this program around quickly.

Normand said there was a lot of commitment from the remaining student-athletes on this team to get it right, but they needed and demanded a strong leader and that's where Mroz comes in. "She has done a remarkable job of lifting the program's spirits and making good on a promise to clean house".

"If Liz doesn't score a goal this year or find an assist, she's already done the bulk of the work. This team would not be where it is now without her efforts . She and her teammates should be proud because they are moving in the right direction," Normand said.

"We've had a pretty big facelift on this team and I think we're pointed in the right direction," said Mroz, the team's president and spiritual leader.

2012-01-22



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