Veterans key to women’s lax success

The Geneseo women’s lacrosse team hopes to finish what it started in the 2014 season, starting with a 10th overall ranking in the country in a preseason poll. The Knights made it to the sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament last season, where they lost a close game against Franklin and Marshall College by a final score of 9-8.

With four seniors on this year’s roster and a large freshman class, Geneseo has a good chance to get back to the NCAA Tournament. Head coach Carly Ritchlin was optimistic about this year’s team.

“I’m very excited about this season, as we have strong returners coming back, great leadership and we have a lot of newcomers and talented freshmen who can play at a high level right away,” Ritchlin said. “Not only do you have leadership, but you have fresh bodies coming in who can contribute and help make a difference on the field for us right away.”

The Knights return four seniors: attack Katey Hart, defenders Alexis Pelowski and Aileen Kurpis and goalie Laura Passamonte. Geneseo will look to these four for veteran experience, as well as helping the newer players get acclimated to the speed and differences that come with the jump from high school to college play. Ritchlin explained that the veteran savvy the seniors possess will ultimately decide how far this team goes.

“Integration is key—making sure that the seniors can bring together this team and help everyone understand the women’s lacrosse culture and what playing lacrosse at Geneseo is all about,” Ritchlin said. “Helping everyone play to the best of their ability will definitely be a key role for them this year.”

On the flip side, Geneseo received a freshman class of nine players; all from different parts of the state with just two coming from the same program. Ritchlin emphasized her belief that this group can be the spark her team needs early on in the season.

“The number one thing is coachability. It is crucial that they get on the same page as the rest of the team so that I am able to coach them the way I want,” Ritchlin said. “They have proven to be very coachable. They are stepping up and I think overall are doing a very solid job at getting accustomed to the college game.”

The SUNYAC has proven to be a tough conference over the years, with teams from the conference consistently making the NCAA Tournament. The Knights have been on the better side of this curve, making it to the SUNYAC finals and the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons. For Ritchlin, however, it is all about watching this team grow.

“The philosophy that we go by is ‘one game at a time.’ It’s a lot of pressure to look at the season as a whole and, if we do our job the entire way, the rest will take care of itself,” she said. “Watching these girls play, sometimes I have to sit back and say, ‘Wow they really are incredible, this is fun,’ and their work ethic and commitment really makes a difference for how much they want to be successful.”

The Knights will square off against St. Joseph’s College on Long Island at 11 a.m. on Saturday March 7.