After months of waiting and preparing, which included conditioning every day and 6 a.m. practices on Fridays, the Springfield College women’s lacrosse team is finally ready to step onto the field and defend its NEWMAC title.
The Pride suffered an early exit in last year’s NCAA Tournament, and the team has been very anxious to get back out on the field this season.
“I think the whole team has been ready for this season since last May,” senior co-captain Jennifer Thomas said. “Winning NEWMACs last season was not just a great accomplishment, but served as a phenomenal motivator for this season.”
The Pride scrimmaged AIC on Sat., Feb. 23, where the team was finally able to see everything begin to click.
“Things are really starting to come together,” senior co-captain Meghan Flanagan said. “We were able to see everything we have been practicing in action.”
This is a positive step for Springfield as it welcomes nine new players to the team this year. The team does not view the young roster as a concern, as leadership is displayed throughout the entire team.
“The leadership does not just come from the captains,” Thomas said. “It comes from the four seniors, seven juniors and eight sophomores. That is something that will help us succeed throughout the season.
“We have nine new players with incredible talent, and they have molded into our team so well that you would have thought they were with us last season.”
The smooth transition for the new players may have been in part due to how close the team is with one another, as junior co-captain Emily Fowler and Thomas went on to explain.
“Even with so many underclassmen, our team is extremely close,” Thomas said. “We don’t look at it as if we have to make the freshmen pick up all the equipment. Other teams may do that, but not Springfield women’s lacrosse.”
During off-season practices, the team has been pushing each other to the limit, going beyond what they feel is comfortable in the hopes of added success this year.
“Throughout the preseason our coaches have emphasized the need for us to step outside our comfort zone and continue to play aggressively but smart,” Fowler said.
The team opens the regular season schedule with a home game on Thurs., Feb. 28 at 4 p.m. on Alonzo Stagg Field against Eastern Connecticut. It is one of seven straight games on their schedule that preludes the team’s NEWMAC opener against Mount Holyoke College on March 24.
The team will also be heading down to Florida for spring break, where they will play SUNY Oswego at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Disney, and William Smith at the National Training Center in Claremont, Fla.
“We are all looking forward to some good competition and the sun,” Flanagan said.
Despite being excited for the spring break trip, no one is overlooking the home-opener against Eastern Connecticut.
“We look forward to starting our season off strong, and keeping that same strength throughout the rest of our games to make us back-to-back NEWMAC champions,” Flanagan said.
“Our goal every year is to win the conference, so that is what we are working to do,” junior co-captain Anne Versprille said. “We take it one day at a time, improving every day.”
For the veterans hoping to successfully defend their title and the newcomers hoping to experience the joy of winning their first NEWMAC Championship, it all starts with those extra sprints and early morning practices.