Though Emerson’s women’s lacrosse team failed to qualify for the postseason last year, players are attacking this season with the confidence of making the playoffs, according to head coach Kathryn Egizi.
“It’s a lofty goal, certainly,” said Egizi, who is in her first year with the Lions. “We’re kind of double stepping in what we’re reaching for, but I think it’s important to reach ahead.”
The team is about to start its second season in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference. Despite being one of just two Emerson sports last year to finish with an overall record above .500, the Lions went just 2-5 in conference play.
“It’s such a different style of play,” said junior attack Maggie Sheetz, who competed in the Greater Northeast Athletic Conference her freshman year. “In the NEWMAC, people are more lacrosse-smart, they have a higher lacrosse IQ.”
Emerson won’t officially face a conference school until later this month. The Lions received a taste of higher competition, however, when they scrimmaged Wellesley College, a NEWMAC team, and Stonehill College, a Division II program, last weekend.
The Lions lost to the Wellesley Blue 6-5 and tied Stonehill College in a full-field game, according to sophomore midfielder Gabi Cohen.
The program graduated six seniors last year, including three starters.
“I was nervous, but all the freshmen we [recruited] are at the right level,” said Sheetz, a visual and media arts major.
Cohen said the five freshmen are already proving themselves.
“They all have that innate skill,” said the visual and media arts major. “In addition to that, they’re really good at communicating.”
Among the returners are sophomore midfielder Meredith Weber, who led the team in goals scored and was co-rookie of the year, and junior goalkeeper Victoria Kanaris, who made the first team all-conference and led the NEWMAC in save percentage.
The NEWMAC’s preseason poll tabbed the Lions seventh out of nine teams, but Sheetz said she hopes her team’s overall attitude will lead to a different result.
“We’re all on the same page in that we want to put all our time and commitment into our team and the sport,” said Sheetz. “That’s going to get us so far.”
Egizi said her team has already impressed her.
“There’s only so much I can do as a coach, and they’re really closing that gap and making my life that much easier,” said Egizi. “They’re doing all they can, and I’m doing all I can, and I’m really hoping those will come together and make for a successful season.”
Besides making the playoffs, Egizi said the team has set another goal for itself.
“We’d like to finish at like 10-5,” she said. “I would like to get to the point where we’re competing for the NEWMAC title—if not this year, then in the next few years.”
The Lions start their season March 6 at home against Simmons College, which Emerson beat 16-8 last year, and Sheetz said they’re ready to compete.
“We want to start out strong,” she said. “We don’t want to ease into it.”