“It’s been great,” said Sprayberry girls lacrosse coach Andy Osborn, who brought his team to watch former teammates Arielle Schmidt, Kyra Fitzgerald and Kylar Ferguson play for the Owls. “(KSU has) been playing fantastic.
“It’s been unbelievable. I was thinking this morning, we started (our) program 11 years ago, when there were 24 teams in the state. Now, there are 80 in the state, and here is a Division I lacrosse program.”
That seemed to be the overwhelming feeling of the 428 fans who braved temperatures in the mid-30s, wind chills in the mid-20s and occasional snow flurries. It also didn’t matter to the fans that Coastal Carolina won the game 21-12 — they just knew they had a new favorite team to follow.
“I thought it was cool, since no other school in Georgia had one,” said Kelsey Lowman, a senior defender at Kell, on the introduction of lacrosse at Kennesaw State. “Lacrosse is my passion, and I just love the game.”
That was also the message Kennesaw State athletic director Vaughn Williams tried to convey.
“They have a chance to look back on this moment 20 years from now and say this is where it started. They have a chance to leave a legacy,” he said. “I’m proud of these ladies that are taking on this challenge here.”
For a while, it looked like Kennesaw Mountain might offer the fans a chance to see more than just its first home game. It looked like it may have a chance to come away with its first win, too.
Less than 1 minute into the game, former Harrison standout Taylor Southerland scored the Owls’ first goal at home. That started a back-and forth first half, in which Kennesaw State broke its previous high for goals in a game (four) by the midway point of the first half.
When Senneca Ward, who finished with five goals on the day, scored early in the second half, it pulled Kennesaw State within
11-9, and it appeared like the Owls had the momentum. It was then that coach Kristina Llanes had her team get aggressive.
“We took some chances,” she said. “They were the right chances to take at the time, but things didn’t go our way.”
At least three times in the final 25 minutes, Kennesaw State’s shot attempts bounced off the posts or the crossbar, and instead of the Owls drawing closer, it gave Coastal Carolina scoring opportunities. The Chanticleers (1-4) closed the game on a 10-3 run.
Emily Collins finished the game with four goals for Kennesaw State, and Jessica Alderdice had one. Southerland added two assists.
Kasey Griese’s four goals lead Coastal Carolina, another first-year program, to the first win of its history. Three others had three apiece.
Despite falling to 0-4, Llanes said there were plenty of positives to help the Owls move forward.
“We are maturing as a program,” she said. “We went from being a team to being a beginning program (Saturday). This was the best we’ve played. Things began to come together.”
And better yet, Kennesaw State got to do it at home.
“It was great to play in front of our home crowd,” she said. “It was nice to have the lacrosse community behind us.”