Women’s lacrosse looks for redemption

Freshman defender Cassidy O’Rourke warms up during practice with the Geneseo women’s lacrosse team. The women are practicing hard to ensure a victory against SUNY Oneonta. (Ash Dean/Photo Editor)

The Geneseo women’s lacrosse team has played twice since Thursday March 16, winning one game and losing the other. The Knights played at the Rochester Institute of Technology on Thursday March 23, holding them off 15-11. Sophomore midfielder Maddie Lee scored five goals for the Knights, a career high. 

After a particularly crushing 12-3 defeat at the University of Rochester on Saturday March 25, however, the lacrosse team is looking forward to stepping back on the field to prove that one hiccup is not enough to dismay their hopes for the season. 

“We did not show up,” head coach Carly Ritchlin said. “We were definitely disappointed, but we’re going to take a lot from that game and learn and grow and be even stronger moving forward.”

This bounce-back attitude is part of the Geneseo lacrosse culture—a mindset that is embodied by the players and the coaches to make the program as successful as it is now. In describing the past 13 years as head coach, Ritchlin said that her focus was on bringing stability to the team and on recruiting high caliber athletes. 

“I wanted to develop a women’s lacrosse culture and develop a team,” she said. 

This goes beyond the basic “x’s and o’s” of just having players come and play their assigned position—all without any thoughts or responsibilities toward the aspect of teamwork and sportsmanship.

This idea is still embraced today for the Knights, as it is at the core of the team. The players understand the life lessons in playing a collegiate sport—all the while simultaneously honing their technical lacrosse skills and techniques. 

“The players know what it takes to be on our team,” Ritchlin said. “They’re disciplined, committed and have to make sacrifices; they put a lot of time and effort into our program. They go above and beyond.” 

These high standards and expectations have allowed the Knights to continually do well and to constantly strive to be a top 20 team in the NCAA Division III lacrosse. The players all put in more work than just the allotted two-hour practices in order to make the program thrive. Their drive complements the high level of competition they face in their regular season schedule as well as in their tournament play. 

This culture not only contributes to better relationships on the field for the Knights—it also helps the team establish off-the-field-friendships, working together as one cohesive unit. 

“We spend a lot of time together. We’re a family,” Ritchlin said. 

If that culture is not present—if the players do not contemplate what being a player of a team entails—then everything can fall apart quickly. The team works on this consistently, so that everyone is on the same page, because surprises can hurt performance. While success is certainly the goal, the athletes also learn the importance of managing relations with a large group of people and conflict resolution. 

The Knights will travel to SUNY Oneonta on Saturday April 1 to play the first SUNYAC conference game of the season. “Saturday will be a great day for redemption and to execute and play a good game,” Ritchlin said.