As the scoreboard on Stagg Field on the campus of Springfield College began ticking closer and closer toward zero on May 7, 2022, the Pride women’s lacrosse team was quite visibly getting anxious. The sidelines were full of players and coaches alike pacing back and forth, hopping side to side from one foot to the other, or yelling out words of encouragement to those on the field.
And they had a good reason to be nervous. If the scoreboard, which read 8-6 in favor of Springfield, remained the same, the Pride would come away with their biggest win of the season – the NEWMAC championship. Even sweeter, Springfield had the opportunity to completely avenge its crushing 22-4 defeat in the previous year’s championship to the same opponent of Babson College.
With just 17 seconds remaining in the game, junior midfielder Allison Delmonte poked the ball away from a Babson attacker, basically eliminating any chance for the Beavers to come back. A Haley Moody save as time expired was the final nail in the coffin, and all of those once-nervous Springfield players and staff stormed the field in celebration, hoisting the trophy up high.
Now, less than a year later, the Pride are gearing up for what they hope is yet another successful season. But, the path to getting there is going to be different from last year.
For starters, there have been a few key departures for Springfield. Seniors Taylor Pichel and Katie Martel – who were both voted to the NEWMAC All Conference First Team last season and scored over 100 career goals during their time on Alden Street – graduated last spring.
The biggest change, however, comes from the leader of the team. After 13 storied seasons at the helm of the Pride, head coach Kristen Mullady shockingly stepped away from the position to be closer to her family.
But even with this new-look team, the goals remain the same: succeed, and have fun in the process.
“Our expectation is to win,” head coach Jenn Thomas said. “Just win, win, win. We want to win a NEWMAC championship, obviously, and win out our non-conference games – just win as many games as possible.”
Thomas believes that in order to reach that goal of remaining on top of the conference, the team needs to recognize that while the landscape of the team may be different, the drive is not. As of now, Thomas is extremely happy with how the team has adapted.
[The team is] buying in completely,” Thomas said. “We have a bunch of new coaches, so we have a lot of different perspectives and philosophies – and they’re buying into it which I think is great. That was something that we focused on day one, was ‘the faster you guys buy into this and believe in it, then we can run with it. but if there’s resistance, the bus is going whether you’re on it or not. So hopefully you’re on it.’ The faster everyone’s on it, then the faster we’re going to bring on success. So far, the mentality is there, and they’re buying into the season.”
Thomas accredits Springfield’s ability to adapt so quickly to a new coach and philosophy to the great culture the program has. She believes that the extreme bonds the team has with one another will translate to the field – another key part to having the season they want.
In order to keep the bonds strong with one another, Thomas has implemented four team captains for the upcoming season: Delmonte, senior attack Arielle Johnson, graduate midfielder Jade O’Connor, and senior Gianna Scialdone.
“It’s a huge deal being captain,” Scialdone said. “For any team it is really serious, but especially for women’s lacrosse here. It’s a huge representation of everything that we stand for, which is being able to show up every day. We started like this new term, ‘horns up’, which kind of comes from all the positivity that you could bring, all good vibes. If our horns are up, we’re up and ready to go.”
With the high talent and drive to repeat as NEWMAC champions, Thomas notes that the team needs to stay focused on themselves, taking the year one day at a time.
“The expectation, or goals, are that, however, we don’t really talk too much about the championship. We believe in the process, so we talk a lot about practice. We try to focus on ourselves. We try our best not to focus on external things, because those are the uncontrollables. The biggest thing is yes to win, but to grow and just fall in love with the process.”
If this season’s Springfield College women’s lacrosse team wants to hoist the conference championship once again, the Pride must buy in, and most importantly, have their horns up.
Photo Courtesy of Springfield College Athletics