Senior team captains talk about the upcoming SDSU lacrosse season and COVID-19 concerns

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Derrick Tuscan

Bailey Brown (left) and Shelby Hook (right) posing for a team captain picture. (Photo credit: Derrick Tuscan)

by Adam Correa, Staff Writer

San Diego State lacrosse senior team captains midfielder Bailey Brown and defender Shelby Hook put up strong numbers last season despite a 5-9 record and losing the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) semifinal game against the Fresno State Bulldogs.

Brown had 26 goals and six assists for a total of 32 points. She had a shot-on-goal percentage (SOG%) of .828% and was the only player who finished the season above .800%.

Brown said there is always room for improvement this upcoming season.

“I’m going to try to get more shots on goal because I know I need to shoot more,” Brown said.

Brown had a shooting percentage of just below .500% last season.

Last year, Hook had 15 ground balls which was fifth-most in program history and tied for the third-most caused turnovers with fellow senior team captain midfielder Caillin Young with eight apiece.

Hook said the team will have a different defensive style in the spring.

“We are primarily focusing on just causing chaos and causing havoc so we can create those caused turnovers,” Hook said.

The Aztecs will be playing more away games (10) than home games (5) this upcoming season.

Both captains said it might be a struggle to balance classes being away from campus but will receive help from their professors.

“Being a senior I’m taking my upper divisions now so it is a little bit tough but the school provides support academically with tutors and things, and professors are really good with our schedule,” Hook said.

Brown, meanwhile, acknowledges that the away games will be tough but is confident that the bond between the players will keep them together on the road.

“Having away games is always a struggle,” Brown said. “I know we have a tougher schedule this year but I think the way our team’s prepared and how much our team has bonded will be a huge way to help us out.”

The Aztecs will be playing at home against the Denver Pioneers, who had a 16-2 record and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament last year. 

The Scarlet and Black will also play at Northwestern who were undefeated last year before losing to Syracuse in the NCAA Final Four.

The COVID-19 pandemic has already affected the start of the lacrosse season. 

The Winter Defrost Clinic that SDSU was supposed to host on January 22nd has been canceled due to the COVID-19 concerns. Anyone that signed up for the clinic will be refunded, according to goaztecs.com.

The Alumni Game on January 29th might also be canceled due to rapid COVID-19 cases.

“COVID has been really hard for us,” Brown said. “We really don’t know what is going to happen but we are all vaccinated and booster shots and we are trying to take all the precautions that we can.”

The Aztecs were a part of the MPSF conference last year but will be an independent program this upcoming season.

Brown said being independent will be an adjustment but an opportunity to find a new conference.

“We are looking to get into the PAC-12 and all our PAC-12 opponents are what we are looking forward to,” Brown said.

The Scarlet and Black will be playing USC, Cal State Berkeley, Arizona State and Oregon, all of whom are part of the PAC-12 conference.

Hook said it is always motivational to be a part of a conference and find their peak performance but being independent will be good for the team.

“It is unfortunate that we don’t have a conference to look after,” Hook said. “It is what we got to do right now to beat these highly ranked opponents.”

In mid-December, head coach Kylee White signed a five-year contract extension, according to SDSU director of intercollegiate athletics JD Wicker. White is the only coach in the program’s history to guide the team to two MPSF championships in the past three seasons and winning records in four of the last five seasons.

Brown and Hook said coach White has made a huge impact on them and the team.

“She is an amazing coach,” Brown said. “She has been the foundation of our program, she has capped our core values of being a family and having that tenacious attitude.”

“Coach White actually found me when I was a junior in high school and I never touched a lacrosse stick before in my life I was playing softball at the time,” Hook said. “I kind of asked her ‘how do I do this’ and she kind of saw the growth in me and potential.”

Hook — despite being a senior — will be playing this upcoming season and the Spring 2023 season for her fifth year.

Brown will be finishing up her master’s program next spring but her last lacrosse season will be this spring.

Brown said the Senior Day game against UC Davis on April 24th will be an emotional one.

“I know I’m going to cry,” Brown said. “It is going to be super sad and super meaningful that I gave five years to this program and I don’t regret a single second.”