Just over 10 months after bowing out of the NESCAC Tournament at the hands of the No. 5 seed Colby Mules in the first round, the women’s lacrosse team is about to start all over again.
With the season opener at Amherst just a few days away, the Jumbos are looking to roll into the Lord Jeffs’ Gooding Field — and the rest of this season’s matchups — on a team-oriented path. With last season ending on a sour note — the Mules, whom the Jumbos defeated in the regular season, upset them 22-14 on the way to winning the conference championship — the Jumbos, who earned the No. 4 seed in last year’s conference tournament, are hoping to bring a new level of concentration and mental preparation to the field.
After posting a 10-5 overall record with a 5-4 conference record in 2008, the Jumbos are looking to capitalize on their greater depth this year. Keeping in step with its reputation as a competitive NESCAC opponent, Tufts has spent the offseason toiling away in the weight room and Carzo Cage.
During the fall, the Jumbos embraced their intensity and excitement and coupled it with performance- and strength-building activities. The team seems to have established a regimen that has led to the development of successful players in past seasons — in the last five years, coach Carol Rappoli has produced 11 All-NESCAC players. Outside of the weight room and fall practices, the squad spent time together to build a solid team.
“We were extremely serious about the preseason,” senior co-captain Caroline Roma said. “Due to this focus, we feel prepared for the upcoming season.”
As a result of a large freshman class, the squad has expanded from 18 in 2008 to a substantially larger 23 players this year. While such expansion can create friction in the form of competition for starting positions, the additional players may be key to creating a balanced lineup as talent runs deep into the roster. Moreover, the team has a history of turning out solid first-year players, like current sophomore Amanda Roberts, who recorded a 10-goal weekend at one point in her 2008 freshman season and a team-leading 39 goals on the year. Also returning is sophomore goalie Sara Bloom, who started her freshman year and racked up 151 saves. Although the team graduated four seniors in May, three of the top five scorers were underclassmen in the 2008 season, so the Jumbos will still be able to rely on much of the talent that carried them to success last year.
“We have more depth with 23 people as compared to 18,” senior co-captain Chrissie Attura said. “All of the girls are athletic, strong and solid players. The freshmen have stepped it up, too. Every single one has stepped it up to a higher level.”
“All 23 members of the team are great players,” Roma added. “There are no wasted spots on the roster.”Finishing the 2008 season ranked No. 14 in Inside Lacrosse’s ranking of Div. III programs, the Jumbos currently hold the No. 17 position from the Feb. 24 Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) national poll. The Jumbos are looking to improve upon last year’s fourth-place finish and move up in the NESCAC rankings, beginning with their first game of the season this Saturday when they visit Amherst. The old rivalry should be quick to reignite, as last year’s late-season match between the Jumbos and Jeffs led to the end of the Jumbos’ six-game winning streak with a 14-7 loss. Attura attributed the unfortunate outcome to a loss of focus and lack of preparation. “This game means an immense amount to the rest of the season,” Attura said. “It sets the tone for the season.” “We were definitely unprepared mentally for the game,” senior Courtney Thomas added. “I feel from watching the game film this week that we all are on the same page for this Saturday.”