By Nick Troiano
The Sacred Heart University women’s lacrosse team has high expectations for the 2016-17 season.
Coming off a loss in the playoffs in double overtime last season, the team is determined to make it back.
The team is ranked fourth in the Northeast Conference (NEC) preseason poll, which ranks the tops teams in the conference heading into the season. The Pioneers reached the NEC tournament for the first time since 2012 last season, losing to Bryant in the semifinals.
The team is attempting to build on a season that helped players get experience in the playoffs, which they hope will translate into an even better 2017 campaign.
“Our goal is to win the NEC tournament and get back to our winning ways, ultimately clinching a berth into the NCAA tournament,” said head coach Laura Cook.
The Pioneers are confident in their team and that this season will be better than the last.
“All the freshman that came in fit in right away and became close on and off the field, continuously working to get better and better everyday,” said senior Caitlin Delaney.
As the team moves forward into the season, they are building on the strengths of their team from a year ago.
“We have great leadership and great work ethic that is led by our nine seniors. We know how it feels to make it far into the playoffs and come up short, this will only make us better,” said Cook.
Sacred Heart has worked on sustaining their defense during the off-season.
“We trust each other out there, especially on the defense side. I know everyone on the team has my back and I have theirs,” said senior Alyssa Pearce.
This trust and cohesiveness, according to Pearce, is what is going to make the team successful this season.
One of the biggest things the team looks to improve on from last year is building on the weaknesses of the team.
“We needed to learn how to win tough games and deal with adversity, we were a young and inexperienced team last season, but losing in the semifinals got us the experience for this season,” said Cook.
With the team being fourth in preseason ranking, the Pioneers are fighting to not be over looked.
“I feel like we should be ranked higher. I think we are being slept on and we need to feed off being an underdog. We are better than people think,” said Pearce.