D2 Women’s Outlook

As the end of January approaches, collegiate lacrosse teams across Massachusetts are gearing up for pre-season. For many players, this means double sessions, 6 a.m. practices, layers of Under Amor and what feels like endless conditioning drills. All of this is done with the hope that this year’s team will be the group of individuals that will take the team to the next level.

Excitingly for the Northeast, two local women’s teams have been named to the division II top 10 in preseason polls. The Stonehill College Skyhawks and Bentley University Falcons, both of which play in the Northeast -10 conference, were voted 7th and 9th respectively, by Lacrosse Magazine and the NCAA. The Skyhawks (7) finished the 2012 season with a record of 14-5, losing to Adelphi, 12-11, in OT during the Northeast-10 semifinals. Loyal readers of New England Lacrosse Blog may remember this post, which highlighted the 2012 Stonehill women’s lacrosse team. Bentley (9) suffered a tough loss to Stonehill in the 2012 season, and will likely be looking for redemption.

The Stonehill women’s lacrosse team has had a strong program for years. The Skyhawks finished the 2011 season with a record of 15-4 and the 2010 season with a record of 13-4, making them a team to beat in the Northeast-10 conference. The 2013 season will mark Coach Katie Conover’s fourth season with the Skyhawks. A former Skyhawk herself, Conover spent four seasons as the head coach at rival Merrimack College before returning to Stonehill College.

Bentley closed out the 2012 season with a record of 13-6. The Falcons, like the Skyhawks, lost in the Northeast-10 semifinal game where the faced Le Moyne. In the 2011 season, Bentley saw a record of 9-8. If the Falcons continue to move with the momentum and drive they have brought to the field the last two seasons, they will surely be a contender come championship time this May. We were able to sit down with Falcons head coach, Carissa Medeiros, a Stonehill alum, who is entering her sixth season with the Falcons. In her previous five seasons, Medeiros played a vital role in helping the Bentley women’s lacrosse develop into the nationally recognized program it is today. Here is what Carissa had to say about the upcoming season.

Q: Does being named to the division II top 10 create added pressure? If so, what does it feel like?

A: I don’t think it adds any pressure to us because we are exactly where we thought we should be. Our program has been on the upswing over the last three seasons and it is nice to see us getting some recognition-I think it helps the girls maintain confidence seeing that other coaches in the conference think we belong there.

Q: What will you do differently from the 2012 season to take this 2013 team to the next level?

A: Well, we’ve already tried to work out some of the things that we think were holding us back. We cut the roster down about 8 girls which has drastically improved the way we practice. We are more efficient, the girls get more reps during each drill, and the overall level of skill has taken a huge jump forward. We will also implement more film work this season, both of our own team and of others. I think we need to be more prepared for what we will potentially see on the field.

Q: Tell me about the dynamic of your team. What are their personalities like? How does this come into play on the field?

A: Our team dynamic is… unique! Our team, at its core, is extremely close off the field, which certainly comes into play on the field. But of course, this is not always for the positive. We have done a great job at weeding out the student-athletes that wanted to come along for the ride, or just “say” they were part of the team. Everyone who makes this squad this year would have earned it from all aspects, athleticism, skill and commitment level… They are certainly still goofy and like to have fun, but this season, I feel an increased level of seriousness and a “let’s get down to business” attitude.

Q: What team are you most looking forward to playing this season?

A: I am very much looking forward to playing Rollins in our season opener. We have tried to get them on our schedule for the last four years and it never quite worked out. I have a great respect for Coach Short and what he has done with both his program and lacrosse in Florida in general. I think that our teams are very evenly matched and it should begin what I hope to be a happy, healthy rivalry.

Q: What team do you expect to be your biggest challenge?

A: Beating one of the following teams: Le Moyne, LIU Post, Stonehill, Adelphi. Each one of these games will be our biggest regional challenges and by beating just one of these teams this season, it should solidify our climb up the Division 2 ladder

Q: You suffered a tough loss to Stonehill in the 2012 season, and you are playing them away this year. Does your close ranking (7th and 9th) make this game more of a rivalry than it has been in the past?

A: You know, every year that I’ve been here, the Stonehill games are a bit of a twilight zone experience for me. One because it is my alma mater, but two because we NEVER come close to competing with them in a way that represents the level of talent we possessed at each time. Last season, at home, under the lights, after having played a tremendous game against Limestone and coming off two HUGE regional wins against Dowling and Molloy, I truly thought it was going to be a 1-2 goal battle. I did not expect to get pummeled again. It was certainly one of the most disappointing losses of the season. I think Stonehill and Bentley, across all sports, has a passionate rivalry, and women’s lacrosse hasn’t done much to keep it balanced. We hope to change that dynamic this year and finally come home with our first win vs. that squad since 2000.

Q: What are you most looking forward to this season?

A: I am looking forward to a renewed sense of confidence and passion for leaving it all on the field. Our juniors and senior starters have been impact players since they were freshmen, and with the addition of some younger talents, I truly feel we have the perfect squad to actually make a run for the NCAA’s

Coincidentally, both teams will open their 2013 seasons by playing Rollins (4) in early March. Stonehill will see Rollins on March 2 and Bentley will match up with them on March 11. Stonehill and Bentley will meet on April 9th, at Stonehill.