‘This is what you play for all season.’ James Madison lacrosse gearing up for conference tournament

James Madison's Nicholle Marshall, left, looks to escape past a defender during practice on May 2, 2023.
Published: May. 2, 2023 at 11:09 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Despite winners of a program-record 16 straight games, it’s business as usual for the James Madison women’s lacrosse team.

Although they’re the No. 6 ranked team in the country, you wouldn’t know it when talking to the Dukes.

James Madison held one final practice before they depart for Philadelphia at 6 a.m. Wednesday morning for their first round AAC Tournament game.

JMU, the No. 1 seed, will face Cincinnati, a team they faced on April 16. Although the Dukes won that matchup 17-8, they know the postseason is a different story. The Dukes understand the postseason is truly the start of a new season.

“We take each game as if it’s so important,” said Maddie Epke, James Madison’s attacker. “We’re looking at Cincinnati right now. We’re not looking at the next game. We have to win the first game before we win the next game. Now that we’re in postseason, we have to win to keep going. That’s what we’re focused on. That’s been our mentaility all season and it’s really worked for us so far.”

JMU defender Rachel Matey says there’s not a sense of urgency within the locker room but rather a excitement.

“This is what you play for all season,” said Matey. “You play to get to these games and these days. We’ve gone all this way, done a great job all year.”

Head coach Shelley Klaes says the team’s focus is all geared toward Cincinnati.

“We know we have a lot of work to do this weekend. Cincinnati is in our path so we’re going after them,” says Klaes. “We’ve been hunting championships since we started this program 50 years ago. Getting to Saturday is our program goal and once we’re there, we know what to do.”

Thursday’s game against Cincinnati is at 4:30 p.m. The winner of that game will face the winner of East Carolina verses Florida.