Jacqui White, Sports Editor
After starting the season off 6-1, the Utica College women’s lacrosse team’s eyes are already set on the NCAA championships in May. The team’s opening seven games are tied for the best starting record in UC women’s lacrosse history.
After successfully reaching the Empire 8 Conference Tournament last season, the team lost to Stevens. This year, they are looking to win the whole thing.
With a dozen freshmen coming to the team this season, head coach Kristin St. Hilaire said that the batch of young players would be helpful this season.
“Even though the girls are young, they’ve got a high lacrosse IQ coming in,” St. Hilaire said.
St. Hilaire said that because this year’s freshmen have a solid knowledge of lacrosse, it was much easier for them to acclimate to the collegiate playing level.
“They seem to be pretty quick on getting the differences between the rules of college and high school lacrosse,” St. Hilaire said.
St. Hilaire explained that with the youth the freshman bring comes the ability to better cope with being banged up and pushed around on the field.
The biggest goal for the team that St. Hilaire has for the season is to not only get to the Empire 8 championships in May, but to the NCAA Division III Tournament as well.
“They’ve been working hard to get to that position again,” St. Hilaire said. “Last year, we lost the tournament. Like a few other seasons, we’ve been so close but then end up one game out from winning the championship.”
Senior player Katlyn Scarpinella echoed her coach in saying that a goal for the team would be playing in May.
“One of my goals for the team would be to build chemistry together as the season goes on,” Scarpinella said.
Scarpinella explained that her number one personal goal is to be named first-team all-conference at the end of the season.
“We’re all working our hardest to benefit the team,” Scarpinella said.
The midfielder has scored 12 goals so far this season and has had 11 assists, making her tied for first on the team with sophomore Lauren Wolff, who both have 23 points so far on the season. Scarpinella is also currently ranked third in the E8 for assists, averaging 1.63 per game on the season.
Junior goalie Hali Vandermeulen agreed with her teammate and coach about how the whole team is expecting the season to go this year.
“We definitely want to do better than last year,” Vandermeulen said. “Last year, we got knocked out the first round of the championships.”
Vandermeulen, who is currently ranked third in the conference with a save percentage of .559, said that one of her goals for this season is to stay consistent and remain positive.
“In the past few seasons, I think I’ve been sort of wishy-washy,” Vandermeulen said.
Vandermeulen explained that some games she would do very good in and then in other games she would get really hard on herself, which sometimes resulted in her taking it out on her team.
“The freshmen this year really compliment the team,” Vandermeulen said. “They have the same mindset as the rest of the team.”
The women’s lacrosse team will face Stevens at home this Saturday, March 23, at 1 p.m.