“Play quick. Play fast. But don’t play in a hurry.”
According to sophomore midfielder Madison Iandoli, this is the message that head women’s lacrosse coach Charlotte Dixon has continuously preached all season long. Now, the motto is being adjusted.
Going into Old Dominion Athletic Conference play, Dixon wants to slow the game down, especially with the 90-second possession clock rule introduced this season where the offensive team has to register a shot within that time frame before being penalized.
“At the beginning of the season, we tried to focus on playing fast and moving the ball quickly, trying to speed up the game a little bit,” said Dixon. “We realized where that works and where it doesn’t. So now we are trying to get to a place, with us having the shot clock this year, where we can slow down the game a little bit more.”
The Quakers currently sit at 1-1 in ODAC play with results on both spectrums. They were crushed on the road by Roanoke College, 22-3, on March 21, but bounced back three days later with a 20-4 victory over Randolph College at home on March 24. It was the Quakers’ fifth game this year with 15 or more goals.
In fact, the results have followed this rollercoaster path all season. Of their nine games played, seven have been decided by double-digits, either in favor of or against the Quakers. To combat this and stabilize the season, Dixon and the team are looking to take a more conservative approach to the game than they have all season by being more calculated.
“(Dixon) wants us to see the field and see the options that are given to us on attack without forcing or rushing plays,” said Iandoli. “This allows us to hold the ball longer and capitalize every time we’re on offense.”
Iandoli has been a major contributor to the Quakers’ success this year. She sits second in the conference with 27 goals and total points with 32, which includes her five assists this season. She is first in the conference in free position goals shots, 13-19, fourth in shots on goal and sixth in total shots.
“When she has the ball in her stick, you can bet she’s going to get a goal out of it or get fouled,” said Dixon.
The young faces have stood out for Guilford this year, including first-year midfielders Nia Gill and Audrey Helfenbein. Both have started every game for the Quakers this season. Gill leads the team with 52 draw controls, second in the conference, and has scored 13 goals while assisting six. Gill is also eighth in the ODAC and leads the team with 19 ground balls scooped up. Helfenbein has tallied 15 points on 12 goals with three assists.
“We have a lot of people who are contributors on offense,” said Dixon. “We’ve had games where one or two of them had really great games, but we need to get to a place where everyone who is an offensive threat has really great games every time they are on the field.”
Defensively, Guilford has played with a lot of hustle, something Dixon looks to slow down as well.
“In lacrosse, you think about it two ways,” said Dixon. “You can run a high-pressure defense, which is high-risk, high-reward, which is what we’ve been doing. We are moving more toward the conservative defense approach where we can guard the goal inside and out.”
Guilford is second in the ODAC with 193 ground balls and third with 96 caused turnovers. Senior Sarah Sedaghat predominantly commands in goal and has 54 saves on the season.
The Quakers return to action Saturday, March 31, where they travel to take on league rival Bridgewater College. The next home game for the Quakers is April 21 when they will host conference-leading Shenandoah University.
Regardless of the competition ahead, Dixon remains confident in the team’s capabilities.
“I am extremely confident that we can compete in (the ODAC),” said Dixon. “We have a tough conference, but we have a lot of talent on our team. The key to it is having all that talent have breakout games on the same day.
“This is a tremendous culture that the team has right now. Everybody comes out, everybody works hard and everybody puts in extra time. It’s a really great group.”