Published: February 25, 2016
The Lady Royals continued their undefeated season Wednesday, improving to 26-0 after beating Susquehanna University in the Landmark Conference semifinals.
The Lady Royals beat Susquehanna 66-38. Defense was key, as the Lady Royals held Susquehanna to under 30 percent shooting.
The 26-game win streak is the best start in University history, and it has garnered the team national recognition.
Ranked third-best in the nation for Division III schools, the Lady Royals have placed themselves in an excellent position to prosper.
Prior to Wednesday night’s game, the team was careful, not to let its perfect record get to its head.
Junior forwards Alexix Roman and Sarah Payonk both agreed that while having the 26-0 record is a great accomplishment, the team still needed to play as hard as ever.
“We have just put ourselves in a good position for hosting and regional rankings. But actually being 25-0 is just that we won 25 games. Being undefeated doesn’t really do much for us in our playoff run. We just need to focus on winning each game and going 1-0 every game,” Roman said.
“While it is exciting to have had an undefeated regular season, our goal going into every game is to just be 1-0. We just have to keep taking every game one at a time and aim to play our best,” Payonk added.
As for continuing their winning momentum into the playoffs, the Lady Royals agreed that their defense and team bond is undoubtedly what has gotten them this far, and what they will need to rely on for the upcoming week that will be the toughest of the season.
“Our defense is what has been working this season. We play a team defense where each of us is accountable. We have great leaders on this team and a great coaching staff that requires us to work every day. We just need to continue to focus on defense and play simple which has gotten us to this point,” Roman said.
Payonk agreed stating, “I think what drives our team is our defense. If we are communicating and working hard on defense, it fuels us offensively. We just have to keep focusing on the fundamentals like we’ve been doing all season.”
When it comes to upcoming challenges the team will face, the players are not able to think of many.
“I am not quite sure of what our biggest challenge will be. But I do know that we need to continue to stay focused and fight hard for what we’ve been fighting and working for all season long,” senior guard Jaclyn Gantz said.
The successful year began at the start of the season in October, as the Lady Royals made it a goal to reach the playoffs. Now that the postseason is underway, the team plans to bring their best game and give it everything now that the time has arrived.
“Going into playoffs I hope to see our team takeoff and in a sense play to our highest potential for a full 40 minutes,” Gantz said.
The team was also looking to prove people wrong, as they were not nearly as good this season.
After losing three of their top players last year, the Lady Royals were originally overlooked by many and expected to complete only an average season.
“We lost three great players last year. We were thought to be middle of the pack this year. People doubted us. It fueled us a lot this season and made us work harder,” Roman said.
And fuel the Lady Royals it certainly did. After earning the top seed in the Landmark Conference, the players reflected on what it would mean for them to bring home a championship.
“There has been so much change this year and we’ve become a stronger, better team for it, so I think winning would show how far we’ve come this year. Also we have two incredible seniors who have put in so much work over their four years and it’d be nice to have a successful run for them,” Payonk said.
Reflecting on the season as a whole, Roman said the ride has been great.
“It’s been great so far but we still have a lot of work to do. We are so lucky to have gotten a great head coach. Coach Woodruff really knows his stuff, knows what to call all the time and he’s a great person. We also have great assistants. I’m so lucky to be playing a sport I love with my fourteen best friends and having a successful year.”
The Lady Royals hosts Catholic University in the Landmark Conference championship 3 p.m. Saturday.
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