Bradshaw thriving in new position, system

Courtesy of Duquesne Athletics | Duquesne junior attacker Rilee Bradshaw, above, leads the Dukes with 40 goals scored this season.
Courtesy of Duquesne Athletics | Duquesne junior attacker Rilee Bradshaw, above, leads the Dukes with 40 goals scored this season.

David Borne | Staff Writer

April 11, 2019

With a new coaching staff in charge, junior Rilee Bradshaw wasn’t quite sure what adjustments would be made to her role on the lacrosse field.

Heading into the season, first-year head coach Corrine Desrosiers shifted Bradshaw from midfielder to an attacker’s role. Through the first 12 games of the 2019 slate, it’s fair to say that the change was one for the better.

“[Desrosiers] went into things with a new strategy,” Bradshaw said. “I got moved to attack. I used to be midfield, so moving to attack has given me more scoring opportunities. I think the way our team plays together has created a lot more chemistry on the offensive side compared to last year.”

In her first season up top, Bradshaw has already netted a team-high 40 goals. She sits second on the team in total points with 43, trailing only sophomore Michaela Connolly (45). Playing in the midfield last season, Bradshaw found the back of the net just 16 times.

The Middletown, Maryland native attributed her success to the new run-and-gun style offense the new coaching staff has employed. Duquesne has placed an emphasis on firing more shots at the cage this season, and the change of pace has led to success for Bradshaw and her teammates.

“We’re really focused on getting a lot of shots in the games, and in years past that wasn’t really a high priority for us,” Bradshaw said. “I think it’s been a pretty smooth transition. The team is adjusting well. We really like [Desrosiers], and we’re seeing better results than we have in previous years.”

Duquesne (6-6, 1-5 Atlantic 10) has already surpassed its win total from last season, still with four games left to play.

While their record in conference play isn’t quite where the Dukes would like it to be, the point can be made that it doesn’t really reflect their recent level of play.

Their last two losses came against Massachusetts and George Mason, who currently occupy the first- and third-place spots in the Atlantic 10 standings, respectively. Duquesne dropped both games by just one goal, losing 16-15 to UMass and 14-13 to George Mason.

Bradshaw scored a combined 11 goals in those two games. She noted that while the results haven’t been what Duquesne was hoping for, it is nice to see that they can hang with the A-10’s best.

“Our game against UMass was great,” she said. “We almost just went out there and played like we really had nothing to lose. I think we were eighth or ninth in the conference at the time and they’re the number one team. It was great to see how we played against them. Hopefully next time out we can pull out a ‘W,’” Bradshaw continued.

With three conference games remaining, Duquesne still has a shot to sneak into the Atlantic 10 Championship Tournament. The conference’s top six seeds will qualify, and Duquesne currently holds the eighth seed.

With important matchups on the horizon, Bradshaw and the Dukes continue to look to grow everyday in practice. She noted that while it’s important to focus on the opposition, if Duquesne can tighten up their loose ends, they will be prepared for whoever they face down the stretch.

“We really try to put our focus on us,” Bradshaw said. “We focus on the other team, but really, we try to control what we can do. It’s like, if we had a bad game or are doing something wrong, we really take a look at ourselves and what we can do to fix that for the next game.”

Duquesne will take the field again at 2 p.m this Friday at George Washington. The Colonials are a strong defensive team, allowing an average of just under 12 goals per game this season.

It has yet to be seen if GW will be able to corral Bradshaw and the Dukes’ high-octane offense.