By Garrett Cote
Although games will contrast to those held in previous years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Springfield’s women’s lacrosse team will continue to approach this year with a corresponding mindset to years prior; take the entire season day by day.
As seen across and throughout all levels of sports this past year, teams have had to develop a “next player up” mentality as a solution to the possibilities of positive tests and/or contact tracing.
Considering that, and considering challenges encountered throughout the season – positive COVID tests, practicing social distancing, wearing masks, and injuries – the day-by-day method that Pride head coach Kristen Mullady likes to establish should work quite well.
By not looking too far ahead, this will help navigate the ups and downs and uncertainty of a COVID year. Despite the possible distractions of these challenges, practices have been filled with passion and excitement thus far.
“We haven’t had any real differences in our practices at all,” Mullady began. “The only thing that we have approached a little bit differently is being limited in groups and pods. But in terms of our intensity and overall joy of being out on the field, we have been doing everything like we have in previous years.”
Mullady’s roster consists of eight first year-players, an assortment of 15 sophomores and juniors, and seven seniors to round out this year’s squad. Because of the shortened fall season and spring preseason, team chemistry could be difficult to develop for a team that has not been together for a long period of time.
“We have [less than two weeks] to get ready for Babson. Other years we have the whole fall and about six weeks of preseason to get ready for the first game, so the preparation time this year is definitely a lot shorter in terms of us having the opportunity to do things as a team,” Mullady offered.
This year, Springfield is anticipating to be rather competitive in the NEWMAC, as they maneuver through the condensed season while being safe, healthy, and enjoying themselves on the field.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
To nobody’s surprise, senior attacker Kate Sarnacki will be someone to keep eyes on as the season unfolds. Sarnacki has established herself as a star in the NEWMAC conference, rightfully so, as she has already surpassed 100 goals with not even three full seasons completed.
As a sophomore, Sarnacki was eight points shy of reaching 100 points in that season alone. Her junior year was off to a hot start as well, averaging four goals per game before the remainder of the season was canceled in corollary to the coronavirus pandemic.
Another exceptional talent for the Pride is senior attacker Taylor Pichel, a goal-scoring threat who’s netted 56 goals in her two years with the team. Pichel is expected to be right back in the mix of things offensively this season.
Continuing with the trend of senior expertise, midfielder Gabby Fogg will look to build on her solid career, as she has been in the top five on the team for points scored over the last two years. Fogg dominates draw controls for Springfield, awarding her team with possession and aiding them with a better opportunity to score.
“We expect the typical Kate Sarnacki, Taylor Pichel, and Gabby Fogg to really step up in points, and Hannah Calabrese to hold things down defensively,” Mullady proposed. “We have seven really hard-working seniors who we believe will all step up to be leaders, as well as produce for us on the field this year.”
Junior midfield Katie Martel is another solid offensive weapon, as she netted 41 goals her first year wearing the Jersey, and tallied nine points in the five contests last season. Her lightning-quick speed helps her break free from defenders giving her more opportunities to score.
Arielle Johnson, sophomore attacker, was an exceptional facilitator for Springfield during her short-lived freshman campaign. She led the Pride with eight assists and was selected to the NEWMAC All-Sportsmanship team for her great leadership and encouragement towards her teammates and opposing players.
This spring could potentially mark the end of an era for Springfield women’s lacrosse, depending on if any of the seven seniors choose to come back for another year (the NCAA has given each student-athlete the option to not use this year towards eligibility). Regardless of that choice, this year’s team has tons of talent, and is hungry for an opportunity to compete.
“Things may be different this year, but we’re going to take it game by game like usual and do everything we can to compete at the highest level,” said Mullady. “The NEWMAC has given us five games, a conference semifinal and final, along with [a chance to go to the NCAA tournament].”
Mullady went on to emphasize that she understands the hardships this tricky and pandemic-filled year may bring, albeit she still expects her team to play hard and represent Springfield College well by winning games and expressing jubilation and sportsmanship while doing it.
The journey to their goal of reaching the tournament starts Saturday, March 22, and this feisty Pride lacrosse team is ready to step up and face any challenge that comes their way.
Photo: Jack Margaros