Steve Lewis/Durango Herald
For the first five weeks of the Fort Lewis College women’s lacrosse season, the Skyhawks clicked the heels of their cleats together and repeated:
“There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”
This weekend they’ll finally get their wish: The Skyhawks aren’t in Kansas anymore – or Missouri or California or even Alamosa – they’re finally home.
“It feels good not to drive 19 hours,” senior Jess Adams said with a chuckle. “It’s going to be nice having students here to support us, faculty, staff and people from home because they all know where we are and where to travel so its nice to be here and be on our home turf.”
The Skyhawks will play their final five games of the season on their home turf at Ray Dennison Memorial Field, starting with a Colorado Mesa rematch today and then Colorado College on Sunday.
Sohpomore attacker Kylie Smith said playing at Fort Lewis is a relief to everyone. The Skyhawks started off the season in California, hit a few schools throughout Colorado and then traveled to St. Louis last weekend – an almost 20-hour drive in vans.
Over the course of their season, Smith said the players have lost touch with their normal lives and missed class after class. Being home at long last “makes such a difference,” she said.
“It’s so nice. It was exhausting, especially the last one to St. Louis,” Smith said. “I think we’re all just so happy to be home and happy to be able to catch up on life, basically.”
Adams, the team’s lone senior and a Montezuma-Cortez High School, has seen the number of those home games grow each year, reaching a record-high five this year in the program’s fourth season. Although she said she, too, is excited to be home, beginning the literal homestretch for the final time is bitter sweet.
“It’s hard because I’ve been doing it for four years,” Adams said. “It means a lot to be a senior on the team and have the girls be the best that we’ve ever had. So they better bring it when they come to our house.”
Even aside from the talent, Adams said the field itself will be working to the girls advantage.
It’s home, after all.
“We know how to get groundballs better on our ground and shoot better on our own nets, so we’re excited,” Adams said.
FLC head coach Kelsey MacDonald said those groundballs and good shots will need to be parts of a complete game if the Skyahwks want to grab a second victory over Colorado Mesa.
The girls have had trouble doing that in recent games, losing three of their last four. But if they “play hard all over the field, win the 50-50 balls, make big stops on defense and capitalize on their mistakes,” the Skyhawks should be able to replicate their 20-6 victory over the Mavericks from earlier in the season, MacDonald said.
Rachel Sutton leads the Mavericks’ (3-7) “very athletic” attack, coming into the game with 31 goals.
Good goalkeeping from starting goalie Genna Waugh will be important, MacDonald said, as will the aggressive attack led by Skyhawks’ twins, Ally and Abby Kvidera, on the other end.
Adams said strong team play on all fronts will be the key to that all-important complete game, and for a team that can get a bit “mental,” Smith said the Skyhawks will need to focus on their togetherness, emphasizing off-the-ball play – passing, cutting, screening – instead of inidvidual scoring.
“Playing as a team is our biggest thing we need to work on. We will win every game if we play as a team,” said Adams, a captain in her fourth and final season.
For her, part of that team-play involves continuing to take a leadership role, keeping the Skyhawks positive in each contest and “maybe putting a few in” herself.
“We play better when we feel better, and if we all feel better, we’re all going to feel better,” Adams said.
The Skyhawks enter today’s conference game 5-5, 2-2 in the Western Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association. MacDonald said she thinks the team could win out, even against Regis and Lindenwood, both of whom blew out FLC in the last week of March.
“It’s like a new season for us,” MacDonald said. “We’ve had a couple of tough games, but we could easily go 5-0 because we haven’t played strong against teams that blew us out so we’re really excited because we’re on our home turf finally.”