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Pirates starting with some limitations

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Emma Bowman, left, is one of the few East Carolina lacrosse players who is not a freshman. She is a sophomore after transferring from Oregon.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Monday, December 11, 2017

How will all of these freshmen handle making up almost all of the roster for East Carolina’s first NCAA women’s lacrosse team? How many goalies will play during the season? How many games can the Pirates realistically win in Year 1?

These are questions coach Amanda Barnes is in charge of figuring out for the Pirates, who begin their inaugural lacrosse season Feb. 10 and will likely be playing with some sense of trying to prove their worth. The team’s 29-player roster features 24 freshmen who were key for Barnes when recruiting was her top priority after taking a chance on ECU lacrosse’s potential and accepting the job in late June of 2016.

“You look at it and we basically have our team set for the next three years,” Barnes said. “During the recruiting process, you work as much as possible to get to know them … but you don’t really know a kid until they are faced with some adversity and how tough they are.”

East Carolina’s addition of lacrosse has been one of the hot topics lately among fans and with the Pirates facing recent budget cuts and looking at ways to increase revenue. Playing lacrosse will cost East Carolina athletics about $500,000 annually as part of its budget of about $40 million.

According to the USA Today database, the Pirates’ total revenue for 2105-16 was $44.6 million and that ranked last among the American Athletic Conference’s six public universities.

ECU vice chancellor for administration and finance Rick Niswander said at an East Carolina Board of Trustees athletics committee meeting last month that potential Title IX concerns played a role in the addition of the sport.

Fully-funded women’s lacrosse programs have 12 scholarships available each season. ECU plans to eventually be a fully-funded team, Barnes said, but the plan all along was for the team to have some scholarship limitations initially and increase the number incrementally until reaching fully-funded status.

“We do have scholarship athletes, we have recruited walk-ons and we have girls who have tried out,” Barnes said of the roster. “Most Division I programs will carry 35 to 38 players on their roster, so you’re going to have to get creative and we are not a head-count sport where everybody is on a full ride. (A full scholarship) is very, very rare, if not never happens, in our sport. It’s very similar to baseball, and there is a lot of math involved.”

In baseball, where 11.7 scholarships are allowed per team, any player getting aid for athletics must receive at least 25 percent of a full scholarship. Lacrosse scholarships can be handed out in any percentage, so there is a little more flexibility with the roster.

Goalkeepers are vital to success, and ECU has two of them in freshmen Christina White and Abby Smith. Barnes said she hopes to have three or four next season.

Both goalies could play this year, though Barnes added that the traditional method is for one to play an entire game and lead the way during a season.

The defensive makeup for the Pirates also includes twins Mika and Trinity Mapp from Greensboro.

“It’s similar to hockey or soccer, but different in that if you saw a hockey score that was 15-12 you might ask, ‘Were they snoozing back there, or what was the hockey goalie doing,?’ Barnes said. “But that’s a typical score, and if you are making 50 percent of your saves as a women’s lacrosse goalie then you are an All-American.”

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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Humans of Greenville

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Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

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