Incentives abound for Trojans

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A ton of talent.

Leadership.

And extra motivation.

Though the added incentive is not needed, the University of Mount Olive women’s lacrosse team enters the 2021 season with a chip on its shoulder.

League peers selected the Trojans to finish second behind in-state rival Belmont Abbey in the preseason Conference Carolinas coaches poll. The teams combined to receive 10 first-place votes, but Abbey edged UMO, 78-72, in total points.

“With being ranked second in conference after coming off of a 7-0 year, it’s just one more thing to motivate us towards being our best on and off the field,” said newly-minted UMO head coach Heather Coppola.

“We have a lot to prove to ourselves this year and it’s just adding fuel to our drive for this upcoming season.”

Coppola didn’t expand on the number of seniors returning under the NCAA’s extra-season eligibility waiver, but she has plenty of weapons to unleash on the carpet this spring.

Three players to watch are senior defender Chaija Olsson, senior midfielder Ali Davis and sophomore MF/attacker Bria Hamilton. Davis and Hamilton combined for 26 goals, eight assists and each had an eye-popping shots-on-goal percentage higher than .860.

UMO filed a 7-0 worksheet that included three league wins before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the spring sports season. The program also endured a tragedy when three teammates were killed in a March wreck.

Coppola said the team has handled the adversity well.

“Preseason went well for the cards we were dealt,” Coppola said. “We were able to adjust on the fly when things were thrown at us, but we used every minute we were able to get out there to adjust to the new style of UMO lacrosse, and we feel prepared coming into this season ready to work.”

The Trojans emerged as the regular-season champions in 2017, two years after it claimed the program’s first-ever league tournament title.

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