BY Joseph Sciancalepore
With their 2020 season underway, the Sacred Heart women’s lacrosse team will look to improve on a 2-14 record, with 1-6 in NEC play in the 2019 season.
Even after finishing seventh last season, co-captains Cassie Cesario and Elizabeth Small still can take some positive outcomes from their experience last year, and translate the motivation to this season.
“It was a rough season, but each game had either the offense playing well or the defense was playing well, so taking all of those good moments and transferring that to this season is key,” said Cesario.
“Our willingness to work and our willingness to win is something positive to take from last season,” said Small, who was second on the team with 33 ground balls and 24 draw controls last season.
Small was second in the NEC, and 16th in the country in caused turnovers per game with 2.13, described the bright spots she saw from the defense last season that will hopefully continue in 2020.
“This season, I think we need to be more controlled and more disciplined in the way we play. We were really aggressive last year which helped cause turnovers and we made good defensive plays which we need to carry into this year too,” said Small.
Totaling 37 points on 23 goals and 14 assists, Cesario highlighted what it’s going to take to improve this season on the offensive side of the ball.
“Working together more would be a positive for the offense. When everyone is flowing together it’s easier to make plays,” said Cesario.
For head coach Laura Korutz, in her 20th season with the Pioneers, the depth and experience her team has this year is something she is excited about.
“We have a great deal of experience coming back at all positions. We had a lot of underclassmen contribute last year so we’re looking forward to seeing their continued growth,” said Korutz.
One of those underclassmen who contributed a lot last year is sophomore Lydia Werlau, who set a SHU rookie record with 45 points on 38 goals, and seven assists. Werlau is looking to improve on her stellar season where she earned All-NEC second-team honors.
“I would love to improve on my first season and produce enough to make the All-NEC first team,” said Werlau. “Having a lot of returners is good as well as first-years who will make a big impact on the offensive side and it has been easy for me to have a strong connection to my teammates.”
Talking about the upcoming season, Cesario emphasized the squad’s preparation and sets the teams expectations higher than what the NEC preseason poll has them at, which was seventh.
“We have been working together more and working harder at practice and the goal is to have this hard work paid off by making the playoffs,” said Cesario. “We definitely want to make the conference playoffs this year, Liz and I made it our freshman year and I feel like this year’s team is better than the one from a few years ago.”
Korutz knows what it takes to lead the Pioneers to the NEC playoffs, leading SHU to 12 conference playoff berths with three consecutive NEC titles from 2008-10.
“We want to compete in everything we do . . . that includes our practices. Our mindset and mentality has to always be about that,” said Korutz. “For me, we need to take it one practice at a time, one game at a time and work on consistently getting better each day.”
The team opened their season in defeat. The team fell to Bucknell 18-9 in Lewisburg, Pa., on Feb. 8. They look to grab their first win on Feb. 15 against Monmouth.