Nationally ranked. Record-breaking. First place.
Those phrases are some that could be used to describe one of Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s sports teams.
No, it’s not the football team, the men’s basketball team or any of the big four sports.
The women’s lacrosse team, winners of six consecutive games, are ranked No. 7 in the nation in the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association Top 15 poll, and one of IUP’s best-kept secrets.
Soon that notion may change, should the team continue playing at top form.
After Saturday’s 27-11 drubbing of visiting East Stroudsburg University, IUP stayed on top of the crowded Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference with an unblemished 6-0 record with an 8-2 mark overall.
“We are definitely taking it one game at a time, but we do realize that we have a very good chance of winning the PSAC this year,” Taylor Norwood (senior, nursing) said. “The most important thing for us to focus on right now heading into playoffs is maintaining our confidence and continuing to work hard every day to improve.”
Amy Weinberg (sophomore, special education and clinical services) accounted for 11 assists, breaking the old PSAC record of 10 set by Chelsea Borrino of Lock Haven University last April. Weinberg had seven assists in the first half alone, setting a new school record.
“I did have previous knowledge just through talk about the record, but I never go into a game trying to beat those records,” Weinberg said of her performance, which also ranked as the third-highest assist total in Division II history and two shy of the record of 13.
“I just always give 100 percent of what I can.”
The 27 goals-scored mark a season-high, as the Crimson Hawks have now scored more than 20 goals in each of the last three games.
The team also set a team record with 19 assists, besting the old record of 14 in the blowout win.
“Nineteen assists in one game is incredible because it means that our team can work well with each other and be able to help make goals happen together,” Weinberg said.
Kim Hooven (freshman) started things off for the Crimson Hawks by recording a hat trick within the first minute and a half of play.
Drew Hayden (sophomore, special education and clinical services) and Sarah Ward (senior, health and physical education) also netted hat tricks before East Stroudsburg finally found the back of IUP’s net to make it 10-1.
The Warriors ended up scoring three of the last four goals of the first half; however, the Crimson Hawks went into the locker room with a comfortable 18-4 lead.
East Stroudsburg managed some offensive production in the second half and almost stayed even with IUP but were still outscored 9-7 in the second half as IUP emptied its bench, affording younger players valuable playing.
The defense continues to be key in limiting scoring opportunities.
The Crimson Hawks have given up just eight goals a game through the last five contests while outscoring opponents 98-40 during their win streak of six games and counting.
Norwood, named the Preseason Division II Defender of the Year by Lacrosse Magazine, is a vital part of the defense. She forced three of the Warrior’s 14 turnovers, while Brenna Gallagher (junior, human development and environmental studies) had a career-high four forced turnovers and had four ground balls.
“Our defense has been working really hard this year to fine-tune things in order to keep our opponents off the scoreboard as much as possible,” Norwood said. “We have been watching a lot of film, not only on us but on other teams, to learn players’ tendencies so we can know exactly what they might do to try and break our defense.
“I think what makes our defense so successful is the size, speed and aggressiveness that we all have.”
IUP returns to the field Tuesday for a night game at Slippery Rock University. The Rock sits a step above the PSAC standings basement with a 4-6 record.
Game time is set for 7 p.m. as the Crimson Hawks look to claim their seventh consecutive victory.