BY ANTHONY SACCONE
The Sacred Heart University women’s lacrosse team is set to open up their 2019 season on Feb. 22, as they will welcome New Hampshire to Campus Field.
In 2018, the Pioneers finished 2-14 overall, and 2-5 in Northeast Conference (NEC) play.
Senior co-captain attacker Caroline Speicher expects a bounce-back season for the team.
“We expect to redeem ourselves from last season,” said Speicher. “We did not have our best season last year and we are hoping to both improve and compete this year. We have already made a lot of progress and we are looking forward to games starting soon.”
Head coach Laura Korutz wants the Pioneers to play a faster paced style this season.
“Our transition from our defensive end to our offensive end has always been an area of concern for us,” said Korutz. “We have really focused on getting the ball up the field quicker this offseason from our defense to our offense more efficiently.”
The offensive attack is led by senior co-captain Hannah Wise, who led the team with 33 goals last season.
“I’m now at a new position, so it has challenged me to do different things on the field as I am now looking to feed the ball more. I’m also working to challenge my defenders a little bit more,” said Wise. “When teams watch film on me they will see me playing high on the offense, but now that I am playing low they will have to defend me in a different way.”
The defensive side of the ball will be led by senior co-captain Olivia Mittleman.
“One of our main goals as a defense is to stick together as a unit. We want to stay strong through adversity and support each other as much as possible,” said Mittleman. “Communication is also a big focus this year, just making sure we’re all on the same page throughout the season.”
This year’s defensive unit will be one of the younger groups that the Pioneers have had in recent years.
“Our defensive unit is young, relatively speaking. They’ve stepped up immensely, and I’m extremely proud of them,” said Mittleman. “I think if I can continue to support them, but at the same time hold them accountable, it will create a really cohesive defensive unit.”
The underclassmen will be counted on to contribute to the team’s success this season.
“We have some really good freshmen who we think are going to earn some playing time this season,” said Korutz. “They have done a good job of coming in and really pushing the upperclassmen and fitting in well.”
According to Sacred Heart Athletics, the team averaged around eight goals per game and 10 in conference play last season.
“In order to be effective, our offense needs to utilize our lacrosse IQ in stressful game situations,” said Speicher. “Our offensive unit works really well together and we need to continue doing this in order to accomplish our goals.”
Wise trusts her teammates and their capabilities as the season approaches.
“We are ready to prove to the NEC and to the NCAA that we aren’t a team that is going to be taken lightly,” said Wise. “We had a rough year last year, but now we are ready to win.”