Women’s lacrosse looks to bring home gold

The Concordia Courier

On field celebration

By Joseph Panetta | 4/12/2024

Concordia women’s lacrosse have finished the season 9-2 and will be heading to Phoenix, Arizona with the hopes of bringing home the Western Women’s Lacrosse League (WWLL) Division II championship. On Sat., April 13, they will be taking on UC Santa Cruz in the first round of playoffs.

“I am very excited for the opportunity to reach [the] playoffs with the team this year”, said Jessi Borton, sophomore midfielder. “It has been a great season so far compared to last year, and I love seeing the improvement we are making as a team.”

Borton is second on the team in goals scored, despite not playing attack.

The women’s lacrosse team has gone on a tear this season, rightfully earning a playoff berth as they’ve developed into a team that nobody wants to face. This is a huge turn around from their disappointing 2023 season which saw them go 4-6 and miss the playoffs. 

Concordia is currently ranked as the third seed in the WWLL DII.

Sophomore goalie Darby McGregor attributes much of this success to the rounded-out coaching staff. Head coach Dylan Miles added graduate assistant Sarah Watts and goalie coach Liv Kirk who “has given us that confidence on the field that we need to lead our defense.”

Concordia rolled its way to nine wins, most notably of which was a 24-3 win over California State University, Northridge in which McGregor was able to remarkably find her name on the scoresheet. 

“Everyone loves playing with each other and everyone plays for the girl next to them,” said Gen Maczko, junior midfielder and defense. “No one thinks that [we are] a one person team and everyone wants to see everyone succeed and do well.”

Other memorable victories include the 17-2 season opening win against San Jose State and 9-8 overtime thriller over Cal State Fullerton. 

This historically good season has not only been thanks to the coaches, but also thanks to the brilliance of the players.

“Honestly, the key to turning around our record had to do with a mix of new teammates, a better relationship between us girls, and hard work,” said McGregor. “This year we had I think around 10 more girls join the team all who are super talented, which definitely aided in our success, and it helped motivate our returners as well, especially me. We just work together so well and have such a strong team bond now.”

One of the most impressive parts of the women’s lacrosse season is the lack of age and experience among the players. There are no true seniors on the team, which has forced juniors like Maczko to step into leadership roles.

“The two years before this I got to watch how the other upperclassmen lead the team and how they would set an example for everyone. I knew coming into this year that I was going to be one of the only upperclassmen and I was prepared for it,”said Maczko. “Since I am one of the only upperclassmen, a lot of my teammates look to me for help and my goal is to always help them as much as I can. I want to make sure they feel comfortable and are ready to play.” 

The only other juniors on the team are midfielder Samantha Gomez and attack Melinda Ibanez. The players have done an exceptional job of playing above their age and maturely gelling into a championship contender.

This season has not come without its share of challenges and controversy, including an 8-11 loss at the hands of reigning champions Cal State San Marcos.

“When we played San Marcos last time, I think we were all very nervous because their team was a similar rank compared to us,” said Borton. “They were beatable, but we must have let the nerves get to our heads. If we play them in [the] playoffs, we can just play our hearts out and not let the nerves get the best of us.”

Our women’s team has been far from lax this season and they’re going to have to keep that same vigilance when entering the playoffs this weekend.

“The key for us is going to be staying in the game and playing the full four quarters all out,” said McGregor. “We have had games this year, for example San Marcos and San Diego, that were so close and we had them, but we just seemed to lose it a bit. We have learned a lot from those games and are bringing the energy and have put in so much work on and off the field, so I think keeping the same energy and mentality we have had the past couple games will be our key.”

In order to come home with gold, the women will have to play and win three games in two days. The first round matchup with UC Santa Cruz will be at 11 a.m. Mountain Standard Time, with the semi-finals being later that day. The finals will take place the following day.

If the women win the WWLL tournament, they will secure a spot in the national tournament and a chance to reach glory on the biggest stage.

Tags: sports, women's athletics

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