Sports Women's Sports

O’Connor and strong defense lead Springfield women’s lacrosse to 17-7 victory over Endicott

Braedan Shea

As the Springfield College women’s lacrosse team took to Stagg Field for its pregame warmups, the way the team carried itself was nothing short of energetic. While this is nothing out of the ordinary for the Pride, the energy in the air was a little different than normal. Players were moving through their drills just a little quicker, yelling to one another slightly louder and having a bit more fun than usual.

To the outside eye, Springfield in no way appeared to be in the middle of a three-game losing streak. And by Wednesday’s game’s end, that energy would ultimately be the reason that the Pride would snap that losing streak, taking down Endicott College 17-7 for their second win of the season.

Graduate midfielder Jade O’Connor erupted for a career-high seven goals – setting the tone for Springfield’s offense out of the gate. O’connor alone was going back-and-forth with the Gulls in the opening period. At the end of the first, Endicott led 4-3 – with O’Connor being the only member of the Pride to score to keep them in the game with an early hat-trick.

For the first time this season, Springfield players had specific songs played for each goal scored. For each of those O’Connor goals, the speakers on Stagg blasted the Village People’s classic hit, “YMCA.” Also during each score, the bench would emphatically break out into the iconic dance, positioning their arms like each of the song’s corresponding letters.

The team would do that dance four more times after the opening quarter, totaling seven times over the course of the game.

“I’ll be hearing that (song) when I sleep,” joked Springfield head coach Jenn Thomas.

Although the idea to play songs after each score was not her idea, Thomas finds that the idea fits in perfectly with the identity of the team.

“It brings another layer to our personality of the team, and I think the number one thing we’re focusing on is ‘let’s just have fun,’” Thomas said. “Win, but let’s have fun.”

The strong offensive showing wasn’t the only reason Springfield took home the win, however. The Pride defense stifled the Gulls offense, as they only let up two goals the entire second half – none of which came in the fourth quarter. It also marked the first time this season that Springfield held an opponent under 10 goals.

“We focus a lot on crashing hard, we focus a lot on not using our stick, and using our body and focusing on contact,” Thomas said. “It’s clear that they went out there and really focused on that, and I think that’s why we were successful.”

Anchoring the Pride defense was senior goalkeeper Emily McDermott. Getting her second straight start in place for the injured Haley Moody, McDermott put together one of her finest performances during her time on Alden Street. Not only did she only let up seven goals, but she amassed 10 saves at a very efficient 58.8% save percentage. Although she played great, McDermott humbly accredits the defense in front of her to her great performance.

“I was just seeing them shut the ball down,” McDermott said. “They were giving me the easy shots out there, and they made me look good. I really got to give it to them. They’re amazing.”

Thomas was not only pleased to beat Endicott for the second time in the history of the matchup, but finds that it couldn’t have come at a better time in the season.

“This was a necessary win, and it was a big win,” she said. “We knew that we needed to make a lot of adjustments from Babson on Saturday, and it’s obvious we made those adjustments, which is really exciting. The biggest thing that we focused on was mentality and our mindset, I know the bench could feel and the coaching staff – they came to win.”

Not only has the team been finding its identity, but the players themselves are as well. A bright spot for the Springfield program has been the emergence of first-year midfielder Sarah Newton. In each of the Prides first six games, Newton is the only person on the roster who has scored in every game.

Thomas is very excited with the development of Newton and the underclassmen on the roster.

“It’s very impactful,” Thomas said. “Your first year, it’s difficult trying to find and navigate where you belong on the offense side. But she is someone special, and she’s someone that not just our team, but especially our upperclassmen rely a lot on the offense.”

Springfield looks to continue its success and newfound identity into its conference matchup against Smith College on March 25.

Photos Courtesy of Springfield College Athletics

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