02/07/13 — MOC begins new chapter in women's athletics program

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MOC begins new chapter in women's athletics program

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 7, 2013 1:47 PM

An energetic mix of freshmen, sophomores and JUCO transfers have the task of writing what they hope will be a successful chapter in the Mount Olive College athletics program this spring.

After 18 months in the making, the Trojans' first-ever women's lacrosse team took the field today against in-state foe Chowan University.

MOC is one of 11 Conference Carolinas schools to offer the fast-paced sport. Nearly 30 players from different regions in the United States and Canada suited up against the Hawks.

"It has been a challenge starting a program from scratch, but it's not the first time I have been part of a start-up program," MOC head coach Grant Kelam said. "You really have to just hit the road and not look back."

Kelam's emphasis during recruiting focused on getting like-minded athletes together. He explained his vision of the program and put it on the table while potential recruits listened to him describe his system.

The Trojans' coaching staff hopes the group assembled possesses enough firepower to break into the win column, and be highly competitive with any team on the field.

Kelam signed five transfers from Tennessee Wesleyan College -- midfielder Michelle Scannell, sophomore attacker Alex Crawford, junior attacker/midfielder Sarah Fischer, sophomore defender Cassandra Bryant and junior defender Melissa Quiros -- who are farther along in the learning process of the game.

A variety of players could see playing time at attacker, midfield and defender. Keepers Hannah Knight and Sarah Snell will work between the pipes.

The first-year coach anticipates the less-experienced players, who come from different playing styles and coaching philosophies, to step into key roles that will determine the team's success.

"The girls have all come together to pave the way for the future," Kelam said. "Also, with the youth of this team, every experience is new again and it is always fun to go back and re-learn how to teach a system.

"I think it makes everybody in the organization better. What could be a fantastic aspect of this team is that there are no one or two players who will carry us. We will either win as a team or lose as a team."

MOC anticipates playing a fast-pace tempo, but realizes that its youth may dictate a more deliberate style until everyone gains experience and steps onto the same page.

Time may, or may not, be an ally for the Trojans.

"We need to play together," Kelam said. "It starts very basic and builds its way up ... a long process. I would have to base the success of the team this season on how fast we get past the learning curve."