Women's Lacrosse 2014 Team Preview + Video

Women's Lacrosse Eager to Get First Season Going

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HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Coker College has made a name for itself of late by bringing unfamiliar sports to the small city of Hartsville. Last year, it was men's volleyball. The year before that, men's lacrosse. This year, Coker introduces women's lacrosse.

First-year coach Steve Efland is excited to have the sport at Coker, and expects his team to put on quite a show for fans who attend the games.

"Our game is a little different from the men's game, but still packed with action," said Efland, who comes to Coker after serving as head coach at Winter Springs High School in Florida since 2004. "It isn't as many big hits like the men's game, which means we can show fans the more tactical side of the game. Our players rely more on skill and efficiency than brute strength."

The Cobras will enter the traditionally competitive South Atlantic Conference in 2014, but this will be an interesting year for the SAC as it will be the first year the conference has sponsored men's or women's lacrosse. The thought of winning the inaugural conference title has driven Efland and his team to work harder than the players ever imagined they could in the preseason.

"The team has been working at a level that is hard to describe," said Efland. "The team knows that we have a shot to win the first title in conference history, and that is a real motivator in the weight room and on the practice field."

Efland has built a roster that is stacked with playmakers, and with his efficiency-oriented coaching style, the plan is for them to turn strong defense into big-time offense.

Expected to lead the offense for the Navy and Yellow will be SAC preseason all-conference attackers Mackenzie Baker and Hayley Ferone.

"Mackenzie and Hayley are special players that can change a game in the blink of an eye," said Efland. "Hayley was a high school All-American and has a wicked shot as a lefty. Mackenzie's size and skill make her very hard to match up with. She should score some easy goals for us."

Efland knows that offense is just one facet of the game, which is why he is counting on defender Marabeth Durden and goalie Mandy Lopez to shut down opposing teams' attack.

"Marabeth and Mandy are Division I caliber players along with Mackenzie and Hayley," said Efland. "Marabeth is a tenacious defender that gets under the skin of the player she is marking and just makes it a long day. Mandy is just what we need considering the youth of the team. She is a phenomenal goalie with good ball recognition skills, and can really move between the pipes."

As the preseason concludes and official games get under way, Coker can expect to be tested early on as its first-year schedule is headlined with matches against Division II powerhouses Kutztown University and Rollins College.

"We play one heck of a schedule in our rookie campaign," said Efland. "My goal for us is to compete against the best teams and find out what we do well and where we can improve. Regardless of how the season turns out the team should be proud that they will be remembered as the team that laid the foundation for Coker women's lacrosse to be built."

The Navy and Yellow opens its season Monday, Feb. 17 at home against Erskine College.

Story written by sports information graduate assistant Sharod Williams '13.