By Jordyn Woodling
Falling just short of the MAC Commonwealth championship last year to Messiah, the women’s lacrosse team is seeking revenge in 2022.
Placing second in the coaches preseason poll and ranking 18th nationally according to the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA), they ended last year with a 12–3 record on the year. With 18 returning players, the amount of experience will be a high point for the Spartans.
They showed some of that Wednesday in the season opener, a 15–7 win at Washington (Md.).
“The seniors on the team won a championship previously. They, along with all of the returners, have also lost a championship. I believe this will benefit us greatly as it provides fuel for us,” head coach Jen Muston said. The Spartans are eager to jump out onto the field once more to bring back a title and earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
In addition to the returning players, the Spartans added 10 freshmen to the mix. With experience and talent of their own, the freshman class is looking to carry on the seniors’ legacy next year.
“We look for players that have a passion for lacrosse and a desire to play high level DIII Lacrosse and compete for Championships,” Muston said. “We want players with a competitive mindset and a team-first attitude. We look for players who will be good teammates and good supporters of others. Recruits must have the desire to spend a lot of time on their commitment to lacrosse, alongside their academic commitment. We also look at their talent, skills, and level of potential, and match it to our goals for our program.”
Every player wearing the Spartans uniform has met specific criteria that Muston and the coaching staff are seeking.
The Spartans are bringing back several key offensive players. Those include seniors Rachel Della and Chloe MacDonald, who led the Spartans offense with over 30 goals each. Della tallied 34 goals to lead the team and finish second in the MAC Commonwealth. MacDonald’s 32-goal performance led her to a first team All-MAC and IWLCA Second Team All-Metro Region.
On the defensive side, the Spartans are led by senior Rachael Huebler, who had a standout season last year by ranking second in the conference in scoring defense, averaging 5.95 goals per game and holding opponents to single digits in 12 put of the 15 games. In addition to goalie Riley DiFiore, whose dominant performance last year led her to a first-team All-MAC, Defensive Player of the year, IWLCA Second Team All-American and IWLCA First Team All-Metro Region. Last year, she led the MAC Commonwealth with a high of .594 save percentage and 6.58 goals-against average. Her season highlights include a career-high 18 saves against Messiah, holding opponents to single digits in 13 of 15 games and two shutouts. The defense has two strong senior captains who are looking to lead the team to strive for excellence once more.
Chloe MacDonald and Jenna Cholowinski were both announced as preseason All Americans. The women’s lacrosse team has dominant forces on all sides of the ball and look to be a strong competitor as they go out into the 2022 spring season.
If they continue their historic ride from last year, their eyes are focused further beyond the MAC championship. Their talent goes deeper than the surface of the seniors. “We have very good leadership this season. We have a strong senior class and a great group of captains that work together to uphold the team’s standards and keep everyone moving in the same direction,” Muston said. “Our talent is deep this year and we have a lot of options to work with, and a lot of different combinations of players to utilize.”
The Spartans will play their second game of the season and their season-opener against Franklin & Marshall at 6 p.m. March 8 at Kinsley Field. It’s a rare home game for the Spartans, who will open the 2022 season with four of their first six games on the road.
Jordyn Woodling is a freshman majoring in Sport Management.