In May 2018, the Geneseo women’s lacrosse team found themselves with a disappointing end to their season: a loss in the SUNYAC semifinal. The momentum leading up to that game, however, was never lost and has propelled the team to begin this season with three straight wins.
Sophomore midfielder Megan Henderson explained that the team was optimistic about their fast start.
“After starting the season 2-0, we are excited. We definitely gained some confidence after those wins,” Henderson said. “We know we earned them after working hard in preseason, but we also know what we have to work on and what needs improvement.”
This promising start to the season could only be the product of an intensive and productive winter leading up to opening day. The players are assigned workout plans to follow while not at school during winter break. When they returned to Geneseo in January, they began to put their heads down and grind through the preseason.
The challenging workouts last for six long weeks, but knowing that the season is at the end of the process helps push the players to the finish line. The thought of the start of a new season is only one of many factors that motivate them to push themselves to the physical limit. A tight-knit team culture also provides them with a sense of cohesiveness.
Senior midfielder Maddie Lee recognized that being a team means having each other’s backs both on and off the field.
“Our team culture thrives off the relationships we create and the bonds that we form,” Lee said. “We always make sure we emphasize why we do things as a team. We aren’t just running a sprint or doing a lift, we are creating the foundation for a championship culture by being the best possible version of ourselves.”
Although the players are energized by the beginning of the season, it’s important that they stay focused and hungry for whatever they face next. It might be easy to get caught up in the excitement, but head coach Carly Ritchlin knows just how to make sure her players know what they need to accomplish.
“It is early in the season, there is still work to be done,” Ritchlin said. “We can never be satisfied regardless of the outcomes. We are a program that is constantly working to be our best, every practice and every game.”
Prior to the 2018 season, Ritchlin was 11th in NCAA Division III history in winning percentage and yet she still ensures that the team is confident and ready to play their best every time they step onto the field.
“I believe it has to be a holistic approach,” Ritchlin said. “For example, letting the stress of the day go before they step on the field for practice, being mindful during practice, making every moment count. We are constantly talking about the ‘all in’ mentality.”
Naturally, readiness and focus don’t come without challenges. Lee pointed to the fact that everyone learns differently, impacting mental preparation for new schemes or plays. Henderson highlighted every athlete’s worst nightmare: injury.
Despite these challenges, the team is ready to continue the 2019 campaign for a SUNYAC Championship and bid to the NCAA tournament.
“We are a fast and talented team,” Henderson said. “We are as hungry for a SUNYAC title and a shot at NCAA’s just as much as we were last year.”