June 4, 2013

Women’s lacrosse team comes together for best season yet

Chicago’s women’s lacrosse club is coming off of their best season in recent memory, and the future looks even rosier. Between making the playoffs for the first time since 2006, an influx of talented first years, and burgeoning team chemistry on and off the field, the Maroons are confident that their success this season wasn’t a fluke.

“Our expectations for next year are that we continue down the path we’re heading,” third-year co-captain Lynn Garrett said. This year, the South Siders qualified for the Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse League DII playoffs via a wild card and, according to Garrett, the team thinks it can win its conference next year.

After going 3–8 in 2011, the squad turned an 8–2 season last year by tearing apart a bevy of overmatched clubs. They won every game they played against teams with losing records, often by lopsided margins.

This year, against stronger competition, the Maroons went 5–5, but that doesn’t reflect the quality of their season. Three of their losses came against rivals Lake Forest (18–2), and the other two came in two- and one-goal games against DePaul (8–1) and Saint Louis (4–3), respectively.

Captain Lucy Peterson, a fourth-year, is confident that her squad can reverse their losing streak against Lake Forest. Each of their three losses this year was closer than the last.

“We hold our own when we play them, especially considering we rarely have subs, and they have enough players to field more than two full teams. I have faith that we can beat them next year,” Peterson said.

One of the reasons for the team’s recent success is the injection of talent that came with the Class of 2016; roughly half of the team is in their first year, snared by the club’s recruitment during the fall and during RSO fairs during prospie visits. With the new group of athletes, “we became a young and enthusiastic team,” Peterson said, “which really added the final push that allowed us to do well.”

The team is player-run, so they don’t have any coaches. Instead, the captains handle the logistics that come with competition, and the team takes a democratic approach to decisions, with each team member getting a say.

Garrett cited scheduling practice space and games as a difficulty, as varsity and intramural sports get precedence at Stagg and for indoor spaces during the winter. “However,” she said, “we’ve figured out most of the logistics by now, and it is nice to be an independent organization that does handle all of its administrative aspects.”

As far as club teams go, the women’s lacrosse team is relatively serious. Most of the players have experience in the sport dating back to high school or even middle school, and the team meets on the Midway to put in two hours of practice time five days a week. They compete during the fall and train during the winter before going through their dense spring season.

All the time the team has spent together on the field has helped cement their camaraderie off it.

“Playing so many games in such a short amount of time meant we were together often, and we jelled as a team,” first-year Charlotte Franklin said. “These tighter friendships also really improved our game.”

“We spend a lot of time together,” first-year Tayryn Edwards said, who earned All-Conference honors during the spring season. “Far more than grade-fearing UChicago students should.”

That chemistry is something that’s emerged this year in particular. “In previous years, the team was cohesive for sure,” Peterson said, “but this year, the team is pretty much a friend group in itself.”

Despite the association of lacrosse with East Coast prep-schools and lax bros, the club has diversity in almost every regard, from majors to personalities to hometowns.

“Trying to characterize our team is a feat in and of itself,” said Edwards. “We are such an eclectic group of individuals, but I will say that we are, in the spirit of alliteration, gifted gabby goofs with gumption.”

That vibrant sense of community is another one of the reasons why the club is clicking on the field. “We’ve really tried to emphasize team bonding,” said Garrett, “and it really shows. Our teamwork on the field has greatly improved.”

For their upcoming season, the squad is considering adding on a coach to help take them to the next level, and they’ve been working out with their counterparts on the men’s lacrosse club.