In Teammates They Trust

 

Resilient Women's Lacrosse Rebounds to Win First NESCAC Title

By Matt DiFilippo
Photography by Jeff Earickson
 

Kate Sheridan
Kate Sheridan ’09 races downfield. Sheridan, a first-team All-American, was NESCAC and Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) 2008 Division III New England Player of the Year.

Why was the Colby women’s lacrosse team so successful this season? Simple, the players explain. They didn’t give up. Trusted each other. Kept their poise. Had fun.

If only it were that easy, a lot more teams would have made it as far as the Mules. But when the second weekend in May rolled around, Colby was one of the last 16 Division III teams remaining in the country.

I think at the end of the season, more so than the beginning of the season, we’ve really come together as a team,” attacker Becky Julian ’09 said during the team’s NCAA tournament run. “When we play as a team, we can go far. I think that’s what the main difference is. We know we have a lot of confidence now, and we’re taking it to other teams.”

Colby won the New England Small College Athletic Conference, beating Middlebury for the first time in school history en route to the title. The Mules then dominated Eastern Connecticut State University, 19-3, in the first round of the NCAA tournament before losing to fourth-ranked Hamilton, 13-6, in the regional semifinals. Colby, ranked ninth in the nation, ended the season with a 13-6 record in the most competitive DIII conference in the country. It was a remarkable finish, considering that the Mules won only five of their first nine games, losing 17-11 to Middlebury in the regular season and 17-5 to Union.

“I think at the beginning of the year, if things weren’t going our way, we got rattled and frustrated,” said first-year coach Karen MacCrate Henning. “And you could see it. Then we never got down to our game.”

Colby was breaking in some new players, like goaltender Sarah Warnke ’11. Other players, like attacker Amy Campbell ’10, who scored five goals in 2007 and 41 this spring, were taking on more important roles.

Everything began clicking as the Colby players began believing in what they were doing—and in each other. With Campbell and Julian, who scored 49 goals this season, Colby had two reliable scoring threats. Then there was Kate Sheridan ’09. After 29 assists in her first two years combined, she had 33 more this season and still led the team with 58 goals.

 
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