While they were picked to finish third in the Northeast Conference (NEC) this season, their highest selection since 2014, the Sacred Heart University women’s lacrosse team is shooting for an even bigger goal this season.
The team fell short of a playoff bid by just one spot in the 2022 season, where Mount St. Mary’s would end up taking home the title.
“There is something definitely special about this team,” says graduate student attacker Grace Reinold. “I believe a lot of that stems from the culture of our team this year and having so many girls back from last spring.”
The buy-in to that team culture is something that head coach Laura Korutz thinks will propel her team to new heights this year.
“The team has bought into our system fully this year and that starts with our veteran group of leaders,” said Kortuz. “It has been nice to see the shift in mentality and we look forward to showing it on the field this season.”
Led by a plethora of fifth year students including defender Claire McElhenny, Reinold and attacker Lydia Werlau, the women are eager to improve their 6-10 record from 2022.
“These three are still as hungry and as determined, if not more so, as they were in their freshmen year which is rare in fifth years,” said Korutz. “They show up to practice ready to compete and that effort and grit filters down to every class.”
Both McElhenny and Werlau were chosen as team captains for the 2023 season and have praised their team for their closeness which, in turn, has led to extraordinary chemistry on the field.
“This team is extremely special because the chemistry and love for one another is like no other team I have been a part of,” said McElhenny. “We have each other’s backs no matter what, which means we win and lose together as a family.”
The Pioneers opened up their season on Feb. 11 against Manhattan, but fell 14-13 in overtime.
Despite the loss, Werlau and Reinold combined for 7 goals, respectively.
“Grace and Lydia are the heart and soul of our offensive end,” said Korutz. “They have been great mentors to the younger players and have worked to build a cohesive unit on our offensive end where everyone is a threat to score.”
After falling behind 7-1, the Pioneers pushed back offensively in the second half to force overtime.
“My hat-trick was a result of our offensive sets and my teammates setting up these scoring opportunities,” says Werlau. “I’m looking forward to seeing our growth as the season progresses.”
The women took on Quinnipiac on Feb. 15, but dropped the game by a final score of 16-11.
“A loss is definitely not our ideal way to start off the season,” says McElhenny. “We have learned that sometimes you have to fail in order to learn so you can succeed.”
The women will be on the road against UMass Lowell on Feb. 25 then pay visits to Iona and Monmouth before their home opener against the University of New Hampshire on March 8.
Sacred Heart Athletics contributed to this article.