This year, the scenario will be a bit different for the Springfield women’s lacrosse team. With its 8-6 loss to the conference’s top ranked Babson on Saturday, the Pride will be unable to host NEWMACs.
After posting a perfect record against the conference last season, Springfield dropped to 6-2 in conference play on the 2016 season.
Though it is not as dominant in comparison to its campaign last year against NEWMAC foes, the Pride have remained static with its conference championship aspiration, as they are only one year removed from a crushing finals loss to MIT.
The Pride did not falter against sub-.500 conference teams during the regular season, as they defeated Coast Guard (2-13), Mount Holyoke (2-11), and Smith (5-10), holding them to 8 goals combined while scoring 36 goals in those three games.
Springfield was occasionally able to pull out close games throughout the year, most notably a 13-10 home win against MIT. The Engineers never led in the regular season showdown, as the Pride opened the tilt scoring five unanswered goals, and extinguished MIT’s second half comeback bid by scoring seven goals in a row post-halftime.
However, Springfield has dropped its share of neck-and-neck contests. The Pride are 0-2 in overtime games this year, losing a double-OT decision to Stevenson 10-9 and a heartbreaking triple-OT decision to No. 10 Trinity. Springfield also dropped two crucial late season contests to Wheaton (final of 7-6) and Babson (final of 8-6).
The team believes that it has gradually improved throughout the year against formidable opponents, and that it can win when it matters most.
“We’re feeling good. [The game against] Trinity was huge for us,” said senior attacker Bianca Raniolo. “That was a wake-up call that showed us how much talent we have, and that when we play up, we’re a force to be reckoned with.”
Springfield is led by sophomore Shelby Corsano, and seniors Heather and Bianca Raniolo. Corsano, in her second year of action with the Pride, emulated a regular season campaign similar in that of Michelle Dorsey, as she finished with 44 goals, nine goals shy of Dorsey’s program best 53. Corsano also added 56 points, 12 assists, 35 groundballs, 46 draw controls, and 13 caused turnovers.
Heather Raniolo completed her final regular season for Springfield with a strong, all-around stat line, registering 33 goals, 41 points, 38 draw controls and 11 caused turnovers.
Bianca Raniolo has played a critical role as the Pride’s field general on offense, as she collected 25 assists on the regular season, while collecting 15 goals herself. Raniolo also exceled on defense, causing 18 turnovers.
Though Springfield is not limited to these three players on the attack. Kristina Krull has contributed 10 goals, along with 17 groundballs and 13 draw controls. Kristen Steidler is a very efficient scorer for the Pride when cutting to the net, and has collected 25 goals (six coming in the regular season finale at Emerson). She has registered 29 groundballs and 13 draw controls.
The Pride also has players who are adaptable to both offense and defense. Ann Mahoney has been extremely effective on both sides of the ball for Springfield. Offensively, she has netted 17 goals on a shot percentage of 57 percent, while on defense, causing 26 turnovers and corralling 47 groundballs. Julia Bireley, who began the year exclusively on defense, has been, additionally, contributing to the offensive scheme. For the season, Bireley has scored 8 goals, caused 15 turnovers and has reeled in 17 groundballs.
Springfield goalkeeper Gabby Anderson has been important cornerstone of the team’s success. She has made 109 saves on the year, saving 50.7 percent of the shots from the opposition. Anderson proved that she could thrive in clutch instances this year, as she saved a career high 14 shots against Trinity, which helped the team push the Bantams to three overtimes.
Senior defender Bridget Thibodeau is the heart and soul of Springfield’s defense. She has relentlessly hounded offenses throughout the year causing 20 turnovers and outhustling the opposition to 36 groundballs.
The Pride has depth, and plenty of weapons. Head coach Kristen Mullady is confident in her team when it comes to crunch time. “Most of our young players on the field like our sophomores at least have a year behind them, where they’ve gotten experience in very competitive games,” she said.
The team believes in its versatility and youth. The question is, will they be able to capitalize on the experience gained from their losses?
“The more experience [that we gain] in these games, the better that they’re going to get,” Mullady said. “Games that we’ve lost by one can only help us moving forward.”