WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- The 2018 Eph women's lacrosse team will be taking the field for the first time on March 3rd, for an away match-up with Little Three rival Wesleyan. This game will not only be the first of the season, it will also be the first Williams game led by new head coach Alice Lee.
Lee says of the fast approaching season-opener, "Yes, I keep in mind our upcoming game against Wesleyan, but a lot of my focus is on the moment and our team. Seeing this team strengthen and grow as a unit—that's what I'm most excited about.'"
The growth referred to here is sure to include a heavy emphasis on mastery of the basic skills that form the foundation upon which future game successes can be built. Such a direction forms the center of what coach Lee calls the "new systems" she hopes to bring to her team this season. She explains, "We're just trying to keep it really simple. Instead of trying to fit so so much in, in a short amount of time, we're really focusing on the basics and trying to do that really well." Assistant coach Karen Shaddock has done a tremendous job thus far on working with the team on such fundamentals, and Lee has noticed great progress already.
In implementing her new systems at Williams, Lee has felt support from members of the team both new and old. Women's lacrosse has six seniors on the roster this year: captains Kat Fearey, Kate Pattison, and Caroline Hogan, as well as Isha Singh, Jenny Roach, and Olivia Polk. The three captains are off to a strong start in leading their team this season, but their coach has pointed out, "In our minds all of our seniors are leaders, and I think the upperclassmen in general are an extension of that leadership branch." She adds, "We're really trying to get the message across that, no matter what class year you are, you all are, at times, leaders on the field, and it's our collective responsibility to hold ourselves accountable to our core values. There is no set hierarchy."
This lack of a limiting hierarchy between class years is valuable for a team on which players of all ages can expect to see playing time. Lee says, "My philosophy as a coach in general is to play lots of people, and I can see members of all classes impacting the games and getting into the mix." The team, which already has depth in its returning classes, is bolstered by a "competitive and committed" freshman class, brought in by former head coach Chris Mason just before her retirement last year. These new members are said to play an important role in fueling the team and upholding the standards that have been set for the group this year.
When asked what in the season she was most looking forward to, Lee hesitated a moment. Apparently her hesitation was due in part to the fact that what she was most excited about had already passed: February 15th, the date the team could hold official practices for the first time since last season. "That was the best moment," was the coach's emphatic comment.
It is clear coach Alice Lee is filled with tremendous excitement for the season to come—if from nothing else, from the sheer number of times she mentioned her excitement in conversation. "I'm excited to see where this group can take us," she said, "because they're incredibly coachable, they're bought-in, they're athletic; they're just a great group of people… There's a lot of positivity."
This positivity is incredibly promising at the start of a season aimed at fostering forward motion. "Our focus is on the process, building a really solid foundation, and competing every day," the coach explains. "Our hope is that as we grow throughout the year we can open up our creativity through knowing the fundamentals, being really confident, and being able to just play the game of lacrosse." The team places a lot of weight on the offseason and the importance of practices, so that when situations arise on the field they are ready to face them with their strengths. Lee and her players are committed to their goal of moving forward and competing every day, and they anticipate opportunities to adapt and improve further as the season gets going. If they are feeling positive now, we can only imagine how they will feel as they continue moving toward their goals.
These Ephs will bring their excitement to the field on the road at Wesleyan at 1:00PM EST this Saturday.