Posted Online: May 01, 2014, 9:47 pm

Augie women's lacrosse team rides eye-popping stats

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By Tom Johnston,

ROCK ISLAND — There are some incredible numbers associated with this spring's Augustana College women's lacrosse team.

The two sets that immediately jump out at people are the 16-0 overall record and the 10-0 mark that led the Vikings to the Midwest Women's Lacrosse Conference title. They are one of just three undefeated NCAA Div. III teams left in the country.

However, if you dig a little deeper, there are some other statistics that are just as incredible for the league champ Vikings, who host the MWLC Tournament today and Saturday at their Thorson-Lucken Field. Quite possibly the most telling stat about this team is that they have an astounding 188 assists on 297 goals.

Those numbers show just how unselfish — and filled with potential offensive weapons — this team really is.

"I always say that it takes a really talented attacker to be able to assist," said coach Sara Tisdale. "Our attackers have a 'make their teammates better first' mentality, and that really speaks to the type of team we are. We really like to throw a lot at a team. It's really easy to stop a team that doesn't have an assist record like that where you have people who drive the goal and throw shots at the goal. We aren't a one-trick pony."

That is one of the reasons the Vikings have outscored their foes by an average of 18.56 to 5.44 this season. Helping that number is the balance Augie has shown, with nine players leading the team in scoring and six leading them in assists.

Nine players have averaged more than a goal a game, led by Hilary Kargl (45 total goals), Rebecca Pollard (35) and Kelly Stelzer (35). Kargl also leads the team in assists with 55, followed by Emily Handrahan, who has 35 assists to go with 26 goals.

"Teams can prepare for us, but we make it really tough for them because we can throw a lot at them and in different ways," said Tisdale. "We're hard to stop. That's the bottom line, and that's our goal — to put seven people on the offensive end and any one of them can be a threat at any time."

Another reason they are so good is because of natural ability and a solid work ethic.

"We've got some athletic girls who have worked hard to be pretty talented," admitted Tisdale.

There is one huge anomaly with this team, though. Even with the undefeated record, huge offensive numbers and minuscule defense stats back-ended by top goaltender Jenna Hofmann (14-0, 6.25 goals against average), the Vikings have yet to crack into the national top 20 rankings. The Vikings, who are the top seed in the West Regional for this postseason, have been among teams receiving votes. The reason for that discrepancy is because the more powerful lacrosse programs are from the regions east, south and north of the Midwest.

Winning this weekend's MWLC Tournament and earning the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Div. III National Tournament would give the Vikings a chance to make their mark on a national level. Tisdale insists that there isn't a chip-on-the-shoulder mentality to substantiate the record and regular-season accomplishments.

"I think it gives us a lot of confidence," she said.

Tourney glance: The semifinal matches of the MWLC Tournament will be played today at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. At 4:30 p.m., second-seeded Concordia (Wis.) takes on Carthage, who earned the third seed. Augie then plays fourth-seeded North Central. The semifinal winners play for the title on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

In regular season play between the contestants, Augustana defeated Concordia (Wis.) 17-6, Carthage 18-7, and North Central 14-9. Concordia beat North Central 14-13 and fell to Carthage 15-13. Carthage lost to North Central by a 17-16 margin.