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Sophomore Josie Owen led the women’s lacrosse team in its season opener on Saturday against Loyola, scoring two goals and dishing out a personal-best four assists. Coming out of high school, Owen was a three-time All-American and won a U-19 World Championship in 2007. Playing in all but one contest last season, Owen has stepped into the starting lineup this year and will be expected to anchor the Cavaliers’ offense.

Virginia hosts two contests at the UHall Turf Field this week. The Cavaliers will face in-state rival Richmond Wednesday at 7 p.m., before taking on No. 6 Syracuse on Saturday at noon.

Question: You’ve assumed more of a role with the attack this season. How has that transition been?
Owen: It is definitely very exciting to be able to contribute more on offense this year. I would say the hardest part about the transition has been my nerves. Last year, the pressure and attention wasn’t really focused on me because I was not starting so I was free to spend that year making mistakes and learning. This year, I feel a little bit more of that pressure to do well, but my confidence is growing pretty quickly. The team this year is such a close group and we all support one another. I would definitely say that I have been more confident and comfortable largely because of their support.

Question: Coming off such an impressive high school career – and even a successful stint with the US Lacrosse program – how difficult was it to see limited time in your first season? Was there something you were focused on learning or understanding about the game last year?
Owen: Seeing limited time in my first year was definitely an adjustment, but one that I was willing to make. I never thought that I would be a major contributor as a rookie so I tried to appreciate whatever playing time I could get. I definitely took special time to learn from the great attackers we had last year, especially Ashley McCulloch. She really took me under her wing, helped me out and showed me more than a few pointers.

Question: You’re highly capable of both scoring goals and dishing out assists. When it comes down to it, would you rather be the one scoring the goals or setting up teammates?
Owen: Scoring goals is undoubtedly fun, but I would have to say assisting is my favorite of the two. Setting my teammates up is a great feeling. Getting everyone involved and working together really gets everyone pumped.

Question: How did you get started playing lacrosse?
Owen: It’s actually a very funny story. Annie Thomas [a freshman attacker] and I used to be neighbors and very good friends when we were in elementary school. I can’t remember the story perfectly, but I remember she starting playing lacrosse before I did. I was so jealous of her awesome lacrosse jersey and stick that I ran home and told my mom that I wanted one too, so she signed me up that spring. I ended up moving about an hour away after fifth grade and lost touch with Annie, so I think it is awesome that we are on the same team now.

Question: Why did you become an attacker?
Owen: I used to play midfield in high school, but I think attack is the best position for me. I am not particularly fast for midfield and don’t have great defensive footwork so I think attack was my calling. It is where I feel most comfortable, so I guess I just kind of became a true attacker without realizing it.

Question: What do you love about lacrosse?
Owen: There are a bunch of things I love about lacrosse. I get made fun of a lot for this, but I always claim that my favorite thing about lacrosse is catching! So random, I know. But I have always loved catching the ball in any situation for some really weird reason.

In terms of the bigger picture, I absolutely love the lacrosse community. It’s such a small world and the relationships you build with people in that world are pretty genuine and special.

Question: What has been the highlight of your sports career?
Owen: I think that winning the gold medal with the U-19 team in Canada was extremely special, along with the entire experience that went along with it. It was a great opportunity and I’m really lucky that I was able to be on that team.

Question: Is there a team you’ve always wanted to play against?
Owen: This has always been a goofy idea of mine, but I think it’d be really fun to have a fun game against – or with – the men’s lacrosse team here. We are all such great friends and it’d be so fun to get out there and play with them. Ideally, it would have to be co-ed teams so that it is fair!

Question: Do you have any pre-game rituals?
Owen: I try to do a little bit of visualization before games, just little stuff like seeing myself hitting my 8-meters and hustling for draw controls and ground balls. I also am really weird about my hair, it has to be just right or else I will be uncomfortable all game – if it looks goofy or feels wrong I’ll be all out of whack!

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