South Florida welcomes first women’s lacrosse team

The freshman team consists of 20 players from a span of 12 states, and is expected to double by the time the regular season starts in 2024. ORACLE PHOTO/ALEXANDRA URBAN

Coach Mindy McCord announced the first signing of a women’s lacrosse team for the 2023-24 academic school year.

As of now, there are 20 players on the roster training, and 35 committed to start in the inaugural season. However, McCord hopes to reach 40 players by the start of the regular season in 2024.

The freshman class is coming from 12 different states, only two players from Florida and the rest from the mid-Atlantic region.

“We really want to attract the best talent and that starts by being a community really helping to build the sport,” McCord said. “The more players that play the more opportunities that exist, the more programs at the college level that starts.”

Freshman midfielder Claire Natoli from Pennsylvania was recently named Philly Catholic League Player of the year. Natoli has had 74 goals and 61 assists in the last two years.

“She’s just fantastic,” Mccord said. “She was just so excited for this opportunity. She wants to be a legacy leader, so you might wanna see her position for some captain roles in the future.”

Four players were given the All-American title last year, two of which are from Georgia, one from Ohio and another from Michigan.

“I think you’re going to see a style of play from them where they’re owning their state and they’re going to infuse some of their great skill down here as well,” McCord said.

Indoor facilities are already in use by the team in preparation for next year’s season.

Home games will be played at Corbett Stadium for two years, but plans for an on-campus football stadium are projected to be complete by 2026, which would house the lacrosse team’s home field as well.

McCord said culture plays a big part in the recruiting process for the team, and is one of the main attractions that brought her and her team to the Bay Area.

“Who doesn’t want to play in warm weather, so it’s pretty easy to recruit to Tampa,” she said. “You have a great city and a culture here in athletics that is second to none.”

Hiring a solid staff is also important for McCord. Alongside her is her husband, Paul McCord, who serves as assistant coach, as well as associate head coach Brittney Orashen.

Together, they worked for the lacrosse program at Jacksonville University, where McCord got her first head coaching job in 2010. She finished her time at JU with a 170-64 record and was ranked top 20 active coaches in the nation. She was also named conference coach of the year eight times.

McCord also played lacrosse and field hockey while she was at Lynchburg College, which is where she started her coaching career at 23 years old under her college head coach.

From there she said she was able to build a community of lacrosse at local levels with the help of her husband.

South Florida is expected to start playing exhibition matches in the spring, and the regular season will be set for fall.