Women’s lacrosse is back and gearing up for a new season full of fresh challenges.
With two new programs and several different conferences from across the U.S., the women’s lacrosse team will be facing various teams for the first time. Katie McConnell, head coach, now in her second year at Manhattan, explains that she chose the non-conference games because, “playing all new teams from different regions in the country will provide new challenges and opportunities and different styles of play.”
The women open their season on Feb. 17 against Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Md. After losing to the Mount two years ago with a score of 8-7 in overtime, the Jaspers are looking forward to the game.
McConnell said she and assistant coach Emily Considine picked Mount St. Mary’s first because they thought it’d be a good start to the season.
Kara Hodapp, a senior captain and one of the team’s midfielders remembers this game and said, “it’s nice going into the games that we know are going to be a good game … and it’s nice to go back and redeem ourselves.”
After that opening game in Maryland, the Jaspers will continue on the road to South Carolina to play Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C. for the first time on Feb. 19. This will also be the furthest the women’s team has traveled in over a decade.
Senior captain and attacker, Sarah Lang said, “there’s always something exciting about playing someone new and I think every year we’ve seen the same faces, especially out of conference, and there’s something really refreshing about not knowing what to expect. Of course we’re always prepared, but it’s an exciting feeling.”
While the Jaspers have not seen much success in the past few years, the team is hoping for a turnaround this season. And after losing six of their eight conference games last year, coach McConnell has made some new goals for the 2018 season.
Some of these goals include improving off of everything the team accomplished last year and making the playoffs. McConnell also believes that the team can win the majority of their non-conference games, “I’d very much like to see us do that,” said McConnell.
As for player goals, Lang said she is confident that the team can make playoffs this season.
“I just want each game by game to keep building off of everything,” said Lang. “Whether we win or we lose, that we just take something away from every single game so that we are constantly building so that when we do get to playoffs or some sort of game that is mentally or physically challenging that we’re completely ready.”
In hopes of bringing something new to the table, McConnell also mentioned that one or two freshmen will probably start and that three-to-four will get playing time. That will give these players the opportunity to showcase all that they have been practicing in the fall and preseason.
McConnell also believes that several players have the possibility of achieving 100 points in their time at MC.
“Last year I think we had six or seven people that were scoring considerable amounts of goals,” said McConnell. “So when you’re spreading the goals out and the assists out like that, it does make it a little bit harder, but it’s possible that somebody can do that, it’s just a matter of, we just really like to share the wealth around here, which makes it a little more difficult.”
Lang confirmed this idea of sharing the wealth by mentioning the strong relationship and connection between all her teammates, such that there is no separation between the grades.
In addition to seeing improvement from last year and making it to the playoffs, McConnell also said she’d like to have the seniors feel like they did something really great over their time at MC.
“I think it’s been a tremendous two years especially with both new coaches and I think it’s gonna be nice knowing that this program is headed in the right direction,” Hodapp said. “I think we know we’ve done our best to make an impact and it’s been an awesome experience here and we really just want to end it on a high note.”
Both Hodapp and Lang expressed excitement for the lineup and the challenges ahead of them. They are also optimistic of the possibility of winning.
As a final note, Lang said, “Come to Gaelic Park, watch some games. It’s gonna be really interesting and there’s gonna be a lot of wins.”
The home opener will be held on Feb. 24 at Gaelic Park against the Arizona State Sun Devils from Arizona University in Tempe, Ariz.