By Braedan Shea
It has been nearly three years since the Springfield College women’s lacrosse team has had a full 17-game season. But they believe that this will finally be the year where they can return to a full season, hoping for some normality to come back to Alden Street.
The culprit of the shorter seasons is the ever-looming Covid-19 pandemic, where in the past two seasons, the team has only played ten total games — five in each.
“It was really frustrating,” said junior Arielle Johnson. “We really wanted to play.”
But there is a different tone for this year. Thanks to high vaccination and low positivity rates, the confidence of this season being played in full is high.
“It’s exciting because it is starting to feel more normal,” said head coach Kristen Mullady. “Everything has been more consistent, in terms of what we are able to do, so we are certainly just taking it day by day, but it is more definitely already more normal than last year. We are heading in the right direction.”
With the opportunity for more games, it does beg the question of how the team is going to adjust to playing that many more games, something many of the upperclassmen haven’t done in a few years.
“Honestly, it is going to take time for us to get fully prepared, but I feel like they have been locked in through the good and the bad of the pandemic,” says Mullady. “Certainly we have had a lot of bads, but they have been locked in from day one. We don’t even talk about the shift of having five games to 17. Just because of the type of individuals we have on our team, we just kind of go. They don’t think about that kind of stuff, which is good.”
For the returning players on the team, they do have something to think about. After going undefeated in last year’s regular season, and cruising through Wheaton in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) semifinal; the Pride fell to Babson 22-4, in a one-sided championship game.
“We definitely remember that,” said Johnson. “We are ready to come back. That is definitely fueling us for this season.”
With their talent and leadership, combined with the fire from last year’s championship loss, there is definitely optimism within the team that it will get back to the championship again this year. But this time they hope there will be a different, more favorable, result.
“I have no doubt that we can make it back to the championship game, and we definitely can win,” said Johnson. “Obviously I’m biased, but for my three years here, this is the strongest that we have been, and in terms of depth we have so many good players, great leadership, and I think we have a chip on our shoulder. Especially my class, who has lost two seasons now. We have been practicing and we are ready to play. We are all antsy to get out there, and we all want revenge from last year. We are ready to go.”
While winning the championship is surely one of the team’s larger goals, Mullady believes that there is an even larger one at hand.
“Our biggest goal is to get better after each game, going into the next. We are balanced in terms of years on the team, so put aside the pandemic, we have a lot of experienced players, which certainly only helps. Obviously, we have had juniors that haven’t had away games yet, so there is that piece to the puzzle, but if we can just get better from one game to the next, that is only going to help us come conference championship play.”
Photo: Joe Arruda