JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s become a nearly annual right for the Jacksonville University women’s lacrosse team to make a trip to the NCAA Tournament. For the eighth time in the last ten years, the Dolphins have a spot in the national tournament.
The only years JU has missed out since 2013 were in 2016 when the team went undefeated in conference play but did not receive an automatic bid via the ASUN tournament, and in 2020 when the pandemic canceled the season after four games.
They’ll play at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night in Gainesville against Stanford.
“It’s always an honor to be selected,” said head coach Mindy McCord. “To win the conference championship, it’s fun. The selection show is always fun. You never know what you’re getting. But doing the predictions and trying to figure that out is always a good time and very exciting. Good energy.”
The good energy led to JU being paired up with Stanford in the first round. Both teams are ranked in the top 20, JU is 17th and Stanford is 14th. The two schools have never met in women’s lacrosse. That means a lot of video work as McCord and her staff scout the Cardinal.
“you’re trying to put your scouting report together. You know, put your game plan together. So pretty much you’re doing the same things week to week, just with a different opponent,” McCord said. “We want to try to stay true to who we are, and our identity and our strengths, keep it simple. You don’t need to overload them right now. Just pretty much keep it simple, keep it the same. Look at your matchups to best set yourself up for success.”
McCord has had plenty of success. This season, she was the unanimous coach of the year in the ASUN Conference for the second straight season. She is the only coach in the 13-year history of the program. In each of the last two trips to the NCAAs, the Dolphins have won a game. Can they do it again?
“When you get into the scenario of it could be your last game, I think pressures are different,” McCord said. “So you have to know they’ve got to come out and execute and perform. But I think that you try to just help them to feel confident to be able to be prepared. And when they’re prepared, and they’re confident, you hope that the results speak for themselves.”
Stanford went 12-6 this year and earned the Pac-12′s automatic bid by defeating Arizona State for the conference championship. This will be the 11th appearance in the NCAA Tournament for Stanford.
If the Dolphins were to beat Stanford, they could face Florida for the second time this year. The Gators beat JU 12-6 in Gainesville on April 27. Last year, the Dolphins beat Florida for the first time in school history, 12-11 in an early-season matchup. The Gators gained some revenge in the NCAA Tournament, beating JU 17-3 in the second round.
“it’s always it’s always fun to go to Gainesville because it’s familiar,” McCord said. “And it’s local in some respects, so you don’t have a lot of travel. It’s also fun going to another place, but we just played Florida late in the season. So it’s not a lot of prep that you’d have to do to scout them when you’re playing two games in a weekend.”
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