Monica Borzillo

UC’s Monica Borzillo looks for an open shot during the 2018 season.

The University of Cincinnati lacrosse team will compete in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) this season after posting the best record in program history (8-9) as a member of the Big East Conference in 2018.

This year marks the AAC’s inaugural season for sponsoring women’s lacrosse and will include current full-time members East Carolina University, the University of Connecticut and Temple University, as well as associate members Vanderbilt University and the University of Florida. The Bearcats will face each conference team once during the regular season before the AAC Championships take place May 2-4 in Cincinnati.

UC was picked to finish fifth in the preseason coaches’ poll, while Florida was predicted to win the conference.

Junior attacker Monica Borzillo, senior midfielder Amanda Donovan and redshirt junior midfielder Sam Mlkvy were named preseason all-conference Jan. 24. Donovan was named second-team all-conference at the conclusion of the 2017 season, while Borzillo held the honor in 2017 and 2018.

Borzillo started all 17 games last year and scored a team-high of 42 goals, which broke the single season record at UC. She added a team-high of 27 assists for 69 points.

Seventh-year UC head coach Gina Oliver has focused on preparing Borzillo to play at a high level while being the focal point of an opponent’s game plan. With a roster full of young talent, Oliver would like to see Borzillo continue to be an unselfish player who gets her teammates involved.

“The big thing for her is recognizing that people know who she is, and people are going to key on her,” Oliver said. “They see how she helps us win, even when she’s not putting points on the board … We talked to her a lot this year about controlling what she can control and building chemistry with other people, so that way, everything is not on her back.”

UC lost three seniors from last year’s roster but brought in a strong recruiting class with seven fresh faces.

“We’re just trying to get as many talented kids as we can to come here to build our program,” Oliver said. “In [next year’s] recruiting class, we have 12 kids coming in. We’re just building and continuing to get better as a program.”

The Bearcats open the 2019 season Feb. 8 at home against the Ohio State University Buckeyes at Gettler Stadium. The match has a start time of 3 p.m. They finished the weekend with another home match against the Kent State University Golden Flashes Sunday at 1 p.m.

“Right now, we’re the best team in Ohio because we beat [Ohio State] last year,” Borzillo said. “But they beat us the year before, so it’s about having that constant competition going toward conference play.”

Borzillo will have a little extra motivation for the Feb. 15 matchup with former Big East rival Marquette, as her sister, Jackie, played for the Golden Eagles and is on the staff as the director of lacrosse operations.

“Seeing her earlier in the year will make it that much greater,” Borzillo said. “When you see your sister on the other sideline, it becomes a rivalry between each other.”

Managing Editor

Matt Huffmon has been with The News Record since 2018 as staff reporter, sports editor, and managing editor. He has bylines with The Plain Dealer/cleveland.com, and this summer, he will be a communications intern with Kentucky Speedway.