The Wildcats’ conference, the Western Women’s Lacrosse League, is the toughest in the nation and continually produces highly ranked teams, Carnes said.
With the team’s first game on Saturday and only a couple weeks left before the team’s big game against WWLL rivals UC Davis, Carnes will focus on getting his offense running smoothly.
A new coach, along with a newly run offense, has created high expectations among the women’s lacrosse team this offseason. George Carnes, who previously held the assistant coaching position, officially became head coach in October, taking the place of Nathan Hendel. He spent many years down in San Diego coaching high school lacrosse and helping build up the sport in the area, he said. Carnes, a Chico State graduate, wanted to come up to the university to help out sooner, but postponed his move until his daughter Vanessa Carnes, who played four years of lacrosse, graduated two years ago because he wasn’t comfortable coaching kin, he said. The Wildcats’ conference, the Western Women’s Lacrosse League, is the toughest in the nation and continually produces highly ranked teams, Carnes said. However, Chico successfully made the playoffs the last six years, but has failed to make an appearance in nationals in the team’s 18-year history. “I would be very disappointed if we don’t get to go to the nationals,” Carnes said. Originally planning to retire and merely provide upkeep for the grounds, Carnes is not one to shy away from the spotlight, he said. Junior Kelly Olney, a defensive player, thinks the new coach gives the team a more effective system, she said. “George really sees the game,” Olney said. “He can come up with plays, he visualizes and he knows exactly what he wants us to be doing.” One important asset Carnes brings with him is his new offensive strategy, Olney said. Lacrosse teams usually play with a spread-type offense in which attackers space out around the opponent’s goal, passing and creating screens until there is an opening to shoot. The new style Carnes is implementing creates three small groups from the seven attackers by splitting into two teams of two and a team of three, called the home. “Our offensive unit is tight-knit and we are still learning the new offensive set up,” Olney said. “The three-two-two style lets the offense run through the whole team instead of just playing around the person with the ball.” Though the team lost key players from last season, the returners combined with a strong rookie class could meet the team’s desire for nationals, Olney said. “Usually a lot of our rookies haven’t had much or any playing experience before college,” Olney said. “All except two or three haven’t played before, which really helps.” Freshman Rebecca Carriere is one of the rookies without previous experience, Olney said. Carriere’s cousin played lacrosse and got her to join the team. “The team has really taken me in,” Carriere said. “Everyone tells me I am doing well, so hopefully that is true when we start playing.” With the team’s first game on Saturday and only a couple weeks left before the team’s big game against WWLL rivals UC Davis, Carnes will focus on getting his offense running smoothly.