Entering the 2019 season, the women’s lacrosse team was ranked highly — number six in the country. After a successful 2018 season in which they posted a nearly flawless 17-3 record, the Mammoths made a run to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament. There, they lost by only three goals to Gettysburg College, the eventual 2018 DIII National Champions.
The loss of five seniors from last year will take its toll, but with an influx of young talent in a nine-member first-year class and the leadership of this year’s captains – Sabrina Solow ’19, Kaitlyn Haase ’19 and Kat Krieg ’20 – the squad was primed for yet another successful season.
After such success, complacency is often a troublesome foe. In an email interview with The Amherst Student about the launch of the 2019 season Coach Christine Paradis, said, “The team has worked incredibly hard in the off-season under the leadership of our captains and seniors and is excited to finally start our official season,” she said. “With talent and experience in many areas of the field, in combination with a great incoming class, the squad is optimistic.” Ranking in the top teams in the country, though an honor, puts pressure, wanted or unwanted, on the team. The Mammoths, under the diligent and experienced Paradis, claim to remain unaffected.
“The key is not to let rankings and expectations get in the way of being fully present, taking each day is it comes and focusing on those little things that matter,” Paradis said. “Last year’s run fueled us to work even harder and we don’t want to rest on our ranking or record. It doesn’t mean anything. We need to go out and play every game like it is our last.” This one-game-at-a-time mentality will be key for the Mammoths as they dropped their season-opener on Saturday to the 19th-ranked Colby College Mustangs. Game time on Saturday saw flurries and temperatures that hovered around freezing for the balance of the afternoon. Neither team appeared shaken since they’ve acclimated to such weather during the first two weeks of outdoor practices.
Unlike many last season, the game turned out to be a low-scoring, primarily defensive battle due to some early-season rust on both sides and a stellar 18-save performance by Mustang goalkeeper Izzy Scribano.
The first half saw the bulk of the action. The Mustangs jumped to a two-point lead within the first 10 minutes of the game as they took advantage of two early man-up opportunities. Sophomore Hannah Gustafson notched the first Mammoth goal of the season off of a well-placed free position shot, and for the remainder of the game, the two teams traded goals. Not once, however, did Amherst see a lead. Annie Cohen ’19 and Claire Dunbar ’21 both found the back of the net later in the first half, but the Mammoths remained two goals down with a score of 3-5 entering halftime.
In the second half, sophomore Rebecca Wistriech scored the Mammoths only two goals of the half. The first came with 21 minutes left in the half. With five minutes to go, Wistriech brought the Mammoths back within a goal of Colby. With two seconds left, final Mammoth attempt on goal was saved by Scribano and the horn sounded, the final score 6-5 in favor of the visiting Mustangs.
This loss will certainly test the character of the Mammoth team, but Paradis is confident in the team’s ability to lead. “My emphasis is always that each player has to be a leader in their own way,” Paradis said. “They have to be able to lead themselves regardless of class, role, etc. [but] of course, we have also relied on our captains heavily to lead both by example and vocally.” With a full schedule ahead and a mental toughness fostered by Paradis, the Mammoths rebounded this Tuesday, March 5 with a 13-3 win against Springfield College on Pratt Field. They will next travel to face the Polar Bears of Bowdoin on Saturday, March 9.