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Redshirt freshman Ainsley Baker dished out her first collegiate assist in the Cavaliers’ season-opening win over Virginia Tech last Wednesday before notching her first career goal in Virginia’s victory at Loyola on Saturday. The Corning, N.Y., native missed last season due to an injury, but has joined the midfield this year and has helped Virginia to a 2-0 start.

The No. 4 women’s lacrosse team will play host to Richmond in a 7 p.m. contest tonight before heading to Syracuse, N.Y., for a contest against the No. 2 Orange in a double-header with the men’s lacrosse team on Friday at 4 p.m. in the Carrier Dome.

Question: Coming off an injury that held you off the field all of last season, how does it feel to be playing again?
Baker: I am so excited to finally be playing again. It was very hard for me to sit out all season last year, but everyone was so supportive and told me that if I worked hard I would be exactly as I was before and it helped a lot having the team behind me. I was telling my roommates in Florida when we changed for our first game against the U.S. team, I put on my kilt and it was the weirdest feeling – it felt so awkward. I had not put on a lacrosse skirt since my last high school game, which was over a year and a half ago, but I sure am glad to be back in it!

Question: You had two assists against Virginia Tech and scored your first collegiate goal against Loyola. How does it feel to contribute within such a dominating attack?
Baker: I am honored to be part of such a dominating attack. To be surrounded by the All-Americans that we have is such a great experience. I feel like I learn so much from the older girls each and every day. It helps with my personal confidence to know that they have the confidence in me as an attacker to be a scoring threat. I feel like our attack is so balanced. Although we have a few key playmakers, everyone on our attack has the ability to score and that is what makes us so threatening to our opponents.

Question: As a midfielder, has it been easier to adapt to the offense or the defense?
Baker: I think for me, it has without a doubt, been easier to adapt to the offense. I played attack for a year in high school before switching to midfield and I think naturally attack has just come easier to me. I’ve been able to use my speed to my advantage as we run a pretty fast paced attack. Defense has been something that I am constantly trying to work harder at everyday in practice and in games. You cannot just rely on speed; there is a lot of communication, footwork and technique that is involved as well. Everyone is so dependent on each other and you have to have a lot of trust and confidence in the people behind you that if you get beat, you will always have someone who has your back.

Question: What are some of your goals for this season?
Baker: To me, the most important goal for this season is to repeat as ACC champions – for the fourth time – and then follow that up with an NCAA Championship. I think we have the depth as well as the determination on our team to accomplish both of these goals. Personally, I would like to become more confident in my play.

Question: The team heads to Syracuse to play a double-header with the men in the Carrier Dome on Friday. As a New Yorker, how excited are you to be playing so close to home? Are you going to have a lot of fans at the game?
Baker: I am so excited to play close to home. Syracuse is only two hours away from my house, which is a lot closer than any of our other games are. A lot of my friends and family members are coming so most likely I am going to have the most fans there, and probably the loudest!

Question: With Virginia being so far from home, what made you decide to come here and play?
Baker: I came to Virginia because I fell in love with Grounds as soon as I visited for the very first time. Once I met the coaches and the girls on the team, I knew that this was the school I wanted to go to. Virginia lacrosse has the reputation of excellence and I wanted to come to a school where I was going to be challenged both in lacrosse and in the classroom.

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