Boxers to Continue Trend of Quality Improvement in 2014

FOREST GROVE - For the Pacific women's lacrosse program, the trend always seems to be onward and upward, whether it is in the win/loss column, the caliber of play or in the quality of their opponents.

In 2013, Pacific took what was perhaps the most experienced team in the nine-year history of the program to a 9-4 overall record. Once again, the Boxers swept their rival programs from Northwest Conference schools and were ultra competitive against a number of high-caliber Division III programs from the Midwest and east coast. Of their four losses, three were decided by three goals or less.

The nine wins gave Pacific their fourth straight winning season, but making it a fifth will require some new players to step up and assume leadership roles. The Boxers lost seven seniors from the 2013 season, including four of the team's six top scorers.

But head coach Wynne Lobel has no doubt that the new look Boxers are ready to go. "Our new group of players have come in with a great amount of experience," she said. "I am psyched to see our first-year players come in, improve beyond the field and develop their game. We're a different team this year and it's so exciting."

Much of the emphasis on the field will be to continue to play a fast-paced style of lacrosse, which has benefited the Boxers well in the scoring column. Pacific scored 185 goals in 2013 and the team's average of 14.23 goals per game ranked 39th among all NCAA Division III teams.

"I am liking a lot of things. I like how we are playing attack and I like how smart we are on the field," Lobel said. "I like how coachable we are, how we are communicating and how we play. This is a fun team to watch and coach."

And when Lobel says everyone is playing, she means it. The Boxers have 17 players on the roster, the smallest team the Boxers have had in the last three years. That means that everyone will be a critical piece of the Boxers' winning formula.

"It's more collaborative this year," Lobel said. "We are relying on experience, whether it is a first-year player of a fourth-year player. I think everyone is working together and are super-motivated to work with whomever is next to them, no matter what year they are."

The Boxers will need good collaboration to play against what Lobel feels is Pacific's toughest schedule yet. The ledger includes match-ups with tough western programs from Pomona-Pitzer, Colorado College and Chapman and match-ups with established Midwestern programs from Alma, Kenyon and Hope.

With the departure of four-year starter Brittney Hartmann, the Boxers have quite a hole to fill in front of the cage. Thankfully, Lobel has recruited an experienced goalkeeper in Adrienne Salzwadel (Fr., Beaverton, Ore.) that is ready to step in.

Salzwadel was a three-time All-Metro League selection as a goalie and earned first team honors as a junior. In her last two years, Salzwadel shared the cage with another player and is excited about the opportunity to hold the position down on her own.

"Adrienne has worked rally hard," Lobel said. "She loves playing lacrosse. She loves playing goalie, communicating and learning new things. With not competing with anyone for spot, she is flourishing. She players better when she's breathing and loose. We're stoked to have her in goal."

When it comes to the defense, Pacific is incredible deep. Two returners anchor a group of six at the position, paired with more experience at the defensive midfield positions. The Boxers had one of the best defenses in the west in 2013. The Boxers were 50th among Division III teams in scoring defense, allowing 9.23 goals per game, and was ninth nationally with 12.08 caused turnovers per game.

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