GREENEVILLE, N.C. --- The ECU women's lacrosse team will take the field for the first time in program history on Saturday when the Pirates welcome George Washington to Johnson Stadium to open the 2018 season.
It's the first of eight home games and 17 games overall, which includes road dates at fellow American Athletic Conference members Temple and Cincinnati. The conference will begin sponsoring the sport in 2019 with the aforementioned threesome joined by UConn, Florida and Vanderbilt to form the six-team league.
ECU Head Coach Amanda Barnes' roster features 27 young women, including 23 freshmen and two upperclassmen with previous collegiate playing experience.
"I can't wait for it to be 12:01 and we've had our first draw and we're playing," Barnes said. "We've had a great preseason, we're ready to compete against somebody else.
"I think they're going to feel like they were shot out of cannon Saturday morning after pregame meal. Right now it's us trying to manage their excitement, make sure that they're not getting too excited so that they're wearing themselves out before the game."
Sophomore Emma Bowman, native of Fredericksburg, Md., and senior Morgan Cheripko are the lone members with any collegiate playing experience. Bowman played her freshman year at Oregon and Cheripko was the NCAA Division II leader in draw controls as a freshman at the University of Tampa.
"We've encouraged leadership in all areas from everyone," Barnes said. "It doesn't take a senior to be a leader. We've seen freshmen step up and lead vocally on and off the field. That's been unique to see different people step up in different areas that we've need them to."
Following the inaugural game, ECU will be on the road for six of its next eight games before beginning a five-game home stand in mid-March.
"We're going to have a quick turnaround for a Friday, Sunday competition," Barnes explained. "Our ability to bounce back, or maybe make adjustments in our game plan, or maybe make changes in our personnel, will be really important. Looking ahead, we've got a lot of quick turnarounds that we're going to have to recover our bodies and switch gears and make adjustments quickly."