They were off to the races with one of the best starts in school history. They were ranked nationally. They were named the third best defensive team in America. They led the NEWMAC in assists and goals against. But they still want more. And the opportunity to add to team’s already impressive accolade list is just two days away.
On Saturday, May 2, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will not be the only ones facing off. The Springfield College women’s lacrosse team will host the NEWMAC tournament right on Stagg Field. Springfield will kick things off in the semi-finals against Wheaton at 12pm. Immediately following will be the other semi-final game which will feature Wellesley and MIT. The two winners will fight for the NEWMAC Championship on Sunday, May 3, at 1pm.
The goal and expectation going into the weekend is very clear: win. As a team that has already accomplished so much throughout the course of the season, winning the NEWMAC championship would be sweeter than a warm apple pie.
“It would be absolutely amazing,” said the senior goal leader for the Pride, Michelle Dorsey.
Preparation for the big weekend commenced early on in the week. Coach Mullady of Springfield has been strategizing and watching film confident that her team will be playing more than one game this weekend.
She said, “We’ve scouted all of our possible opponents. We are preparing to play two.”
Mullady is not the only one who is confident however. From top to bottom, every athlete on Springfield believes that they are capable of reclaiming the title after letting it slip away in 2014. Dorsey describes her team as a family. Family members are confident in one another and believe in each other. The Pride are no different.
“The team morale is up and, that is a very key component to us being successful,” said Mullady.
Springfield and Wheaton are familiar foes. In 2014, the Pride lost a regular season match to the Lyons 11-9. Earlier this season in a physical nail-biter, Springfield prevailed 9-8 behind four goals from Kerstin Lindrooth. That win allowed the Pride to control its own destiny for NEWMAC tournament hosting honors.
However, the history of these programs go back even a little further. Mullady and Wheaton Head Coach, Emily Kiablick were both co-captains at Springfield College in the early 2000s. Mullady knows her former teammate will give her yet another competitive game.
“They’re going to come and player their hardest against us. They always do as we saw in the last game,” said Mullady.
No matter how confident the Pride may be, they will still need to execute their game plan. Dorsey points to three key elements that her team cannot forget if they want to raise a trophy on Sunday evening. First, Springfield can’t afford to lose its focus if there is a bad call made. They need to stay composed and just keep playing. Next, the Pride need to limit turnovers. If there is one category in which Springfield could improve, it would be giving the ball away. The Pride have turned the ball over 308 times this season which is sixth in the NEWMAC. The offense cannot afford turnovers this weekend. Lastly, Dorsey understands the pressure of being the number one seed.
She said, “We can’t allow being the number one seed to get to our heads.”
If Springfield can execute those aspects, there is no reason they should not be storming the field in celebration when the final buzzer sounds.
Another key element that is sometimes overlooked is the fact that Springfield is hosting the tournament. Mullady has been the head coach for six years, and 2015 is the first year she will been able to sleep in her own bed for the tournament. Playing on the home turf has proven to be extremely important as, according to newmacsports.com, 14 of the last 18 hosts have gone on to win the championship.
“Being home and having the fan base from our students, professors, and family members is important,” said Mullady. “That’s what you want. It is all you can ask for, really.”
The Pride will look to continue what it has done all season long: play as a unit. In the regular season match between Wheaton and Springfield, Dorsey struggled, but Lindrooth was able to pick up the slack. That’s what is beautiful about this team. There are so many players that can get the job done.
“We have been so successful to this point because we are well-rounded. Teams can’t just take one or two of our players out of the game. We have a lot of players and this is a really talented team,” said Mullady.
No matter what happens this weekend, the Pride have already accomplished so much. It has been a historical season.
Dorsey said, “It has been one of our program’s best seasons.”
However, the ultimate goal for nearly every Springfield College athlete and coach is to be known as a NEWMAC champion. If nobody has to put the key in and unlock the trophy case, a big piece of this season will be missing. The Pride are ready to fight. After falling in the semi-finals last season, there is no other option but to avenge the loss and come out victorious. Losing is not even a thought. When asked if she would be satisfied with anything other than a title, Mullady responded without the slightest bit of hesitation, “no, absolutely not.”