As Valentine’s Day grows nearer and we delve deeper into the depths of our academic school year, our Swarthmore athletes delve deeper into the depths of their spring seasons. The men’s and women’s lacrosse teams are no exceptions. Both began their spring seasons on February 1st and both are ready to attack this season with as much ferocity as ever. Or as men’s lacrosse player Ian Lukaszewicz ’15 would say, they’re ready to “Get rowdy and roll through.”
But before the start of their spring season, the men’s lacrosse team was able to muster up some good-spirited team rivalry during their season in the fall. “It was a good fall season,” co-captain Zach Schaffer ’14 said. “We had a lot of intensity and competition because we had a lot of guys competing for spots.”
Lasting for about four weeks, the fall season enables the team to assess their weaknesses, strengths, and determine positions for the rest of their season. In addition, the team incorporated a new lifting routine that included more circuits and cardio aimed at strengthening their endurance for the spring.
Although the fall was helpful for strengthening the team, it was also riddled with injuries. After losing three players to season-ending injuries, the team lost a solid portion of their depth at midfield. However, their coach is confident that their team will be able to step up to the challenge and fill these lost positions. “The players have been very supportive of the injured,” men’s lacrosse coach Patrick Gress added reassuringly, “They are all willing to change roles if it helps the team.”
In addition, the freshman newcomers on the team have stepped up to the challenge of filling these spots as well. “The freshmen are great.” Lukaszewicz said. “They’re in a position where they’re going to have to step up, and I think they’re ready for it.”
Aside from bringing a youthful spark of energy to practice, the large freshman class adds more depth to the team and provides bodies to fill important positions. “I think the younger guys will definitely be able to step up and fill the support roles we need,” Schaffer said.
With the start of this new season, players were reflective about their previous seasons and hopeful about their performance for the future. “Our performance in seasons past was definitely underachieving,” Darrel Hunter ’15 admitted. “But we do have the talent to compete with all of the teams on our schedule, especially for this year.”
“I definitely think this year will be different.” Lukaszewicz added. With well-structured practices planned down to the minute, the team is exerting as much effort as possible to make this season one to remember. Each practice simulates the intensity of gameplay, preparing them for their first home game, on February 22nd against Eastern.
Leaving me with the words, “roll tide and dig lower,” the men’s team is ready to kick off their season.
The women’s lacrosse team is also looking forward to what this season will bring. Back in the fall, the team focused on strength training exercises in order to improve their overall fitness for the spring. The fall also gave them the chance to re-align their team after the graduation of exemplary seniors from last year and the addition of only three new freshmen.
“The fall season is a great time to get the team dynamic going and learn how to play with each other,” co-captain Michelle Ammerman ’14 commented. “When we have a really active, intensive attitude in the fall, it helps us start off the spring with a more elevated level of play,” she said.
Hopefully this elevated play will help them rise up out of their position as the conference underdogs. “I think everyone is apprehensive about the season,” Caroline Murphy ’14 admitted. “But in many ways I think that’s a good thing,” she continued.
After the loss of one of their star players, Annelise Penikis ‘13, the team hopes to use this apprehension as a source of motivation. Their goal is to build a reputation as a force to be reckoned with. “We have an opportunity to prove to the conference that we are more than just a single player,” Murphy added.
“This year we have a much younger group because a large portion of the team consists of sophomores,” co-captain Corinne Sommi ’14 explained. In prior seasons, the team included a large portion of returning seniors who had been starters for most of their time at Swarthmore. However, this year a much larger emphasis has been placed on the importance of the underclassmen.
“I am really excited to be out there with new girls this year,” Murphy added. “They don’t know what an impact some of our younger players are going to have on the field.”
Ammerman also expressed her enthusiasm about the younger members of the team. “We have a very talented sophomore class that the conference didn’t see last year,” she said. “It will be really fun to see them shine.”
With practices six days a week, each approximately two hours long, the team is working hard to make an impact this season. “Our practices involve a lot of passing and shooting drills along with small-sided games,” Murphy said. “Right now we’re focused on building up our attack and defense.”
“I like the way the team is practicing,” Coach Karen Borbee said. “We have a strong team bond that will definitely be important heading into our game schedule,” she continued. With their first official game on March 1st against Eastern, the team couldn’t be more excited.
“This is my last chance to play sports at a competitive level, and I don’t want to take any of it for granted!” Murphy said. “My goal is to walk away from this season feeling that we did the best job we could possibly do as a team.”
So prepare yourselves for lacrosse season, Swat. Get ready to “get rowdy and roll through.”