ELON, N.C. – On the road for the first time since Feb. 11, Elon University women’s lacrosse travels to Blacksburg, Va., for a 4 p.m. matchup against No. 19 Virginia Tech on Wednesday, March 1.
LAST TIME OUT
Elon suffered its first loss of the 2017 season when it fell 16-7 at home to No. 11/9 Notre Dame on Thursday, Feb. 23. The loss snapped Elon’s four-game winning streak to open the season. Though scoring a season-low one goal, Stephanie Asher’s tally was historic, as she became the first player in program history to reach 100-career goals in maroon and gold.
The Phoenix and Hokies have battled once before with Virginia Tech earning a 17-7 win back on Feb. 23, 2014. All-time against ACC opponents, Elon is 2-7 with wins coming last season over No. 10 Duke and earlier this year at No. 13 Virginia.
SCOUTING THE HOKIES
Led by first-year head coach John Sung, Virginia Tech is off to a 6-1 start and has won each of its last four games against No. 17 Boston College, Liberty, Old Dominion and Radford. In its last three outings, Virginia Tech has defeated its opponents 54-10 for an average of 18 goals scored per game to just 3.3 allowed. Last time out, the Hokies took down Radford 20-2 on Feb. 25. Virginia Tech’s lone loss of the season came back on Feb. 15 when it fell to James Madison in Blacksburg by the score of 9-6. This week, the Hokies are No. 19 in the Cascade/Inside Lacrosse Media poll.
Stephanie Asher became the program’s first player to reach the 100-career goal mark when she scored in the second half against No. 11/9 Notre Dame. The junior has tallied 18 goals in five games this season. She scored five goals apiece in each of Elon’s first two games, which were a 15-5 win over Campbell and an 11-10 win at No. 13 Virginia. Asher’s 3.6 goals per game ranks third in the CAA.
For the second season in a row, Elon started the season with a perfect 4-0 start by defeating Campbell, Virginia, Winthrop and High Point before falling to Notre Dame. A season ago, the Phoenix also opened the campaign 4-0 with wins over San Diego State, Longwood, Coastal Carolina and Duke. The 4-0 starts are the best in program history after going 2-2 in 2015 and 1-3 in 2014, the first year of competition for the program.
NATIONALLY RANKED WINS
With the Feb. 11 win over No. 13/14 Virginia, Elon has now beat a nationally-ranked team in each of the last two seasons. In 2016, the Phoenix went on the road to No. 10 Duke and won 7-6 in Durham, N.C. Elon owns an all-time record of 2-7 against ACC opponents. Overall against ranked teams, Elon is 2-9 in 11 games to date.
TAKING THE HARDWARE
With her team-leading five goals and game-high four draw controls in the season opener against Campbell, Stephanie Asher was named CAA Player of the Week on Tuesday, Feb. 7. It marked the second Player of the Week award of her career. Last Tuesday, Alexis Zadjura took CAA Defensive Player of the Week after leading Elon’s defense with three draw controls, two ground balls and two caused turnovers while helping to keep three of Virginia’s top scorers to just two goals apiece in the game.
Two Phoenix earned preseason All-CAA honors on Jan. 20 with Stephanie Asher and Rachel Ramirez being named to the All-CAA team and Sloane Kessler and Alexis Zadjura earning honorable mentions. In the preseason poll, Elon was selected to finish third behind Towson and James Madison. The third-place selection is the highest Elon has been in a preseason poll in the program’s brief history.
LOOKING BACK AT 2016
Elon posted its first winning season and first 10-win season in 2016 with an overall 10-7 record and 3-3 mark in the CAA. One of those victories was Elon’s 7-6 win at No. 10 Duke, the program’s first win over an ACC team and first win over a ranked opponent. At season’s end, the Phoenix finished No. 29 in the NCAA RPI. Elon was second in the CAA with 15.2 ground balls, 23.4 shots and just 10.9 turnovers per game in 2016 and Stephanie Asher was third in the conference with 2.2 goals per contest and fourth in assists with 1.2 per outing. Rachel Ramirez finished tops in the CAA with 3.06 ground balls a game, a total of 52 on the season.
HEAD COACH JOSH HEXTER
The 2017 campaign marks the fourth season at the helm of the program for head coach Josh Hexter after being hired in April 2012 to start and lead the Phoenix lacrosse program from the ground up. Named Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year in 2014, Hexter has amassed 102 wins in his career at Elon and Bridgewater State with a 30-25 record in 55 games at Elon. Over the course of his first three seasons, he has coached two conference freshmen of the year and a total of 12 all-conference players.
Elon will return home to play four of its next five at Rudd Field, starting Wednesday, March 8, when it battles Vanderbilt at 6 p.m. Last year, Vanderbilt dealt Elon its first loss on Feb. 28 when it fell 10-9 in Nashville, Tenn.