Last year, the women’s lacrosse team’s season ended in disappointment.
The Pacers lost a close regular-season game to Cabrini University. When the teams met again in the Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) Final, the Cavaliers blew out the Pacers, 20-9.
Fifth-year head coach Katie Tutak sees the loss as a potential positive for the group.
“Just that experience of being there is huge. Obviously we want to be back in the same place going into it this year,” said Tutak.
With seven returning seniors and four returning juniors, the 2018 team is poised to be back in the hunt for a conference championship.
Tutak commented specifically on the importance of senior leadership for this team.
“We have a big freshmen class. I couldn’t ask for a better senior class for those freshmen to look up to,” Tutak said.
Because Marywood added nine freshmen and new assistant coach Stephanie Naro, Tutak leans heavily on her seniors to guide the team and set the tone.
“Their leadership has been phenomenal. I have another new assistant coach [Naro] this year, so me being able to rely upon them has taken a lot of the burden off me,” said Tutak.
Attacker Sam Bussinelli and defender Kelly Ciabattone are the two senior captains on the team. According to Tutak, both players are key to the success of the team.
“[Bussinelli] has done a great job as far as being a commander on offense. If we need somebody to call a play, she is going to be the one,” Tutak said.
Tutak also praised Bussinelli for her work off the field. She is one of the players who makes sure the team is gelling and deals with team issues.
Ciabattone is the team’s greatest motivator.
“She is constantly working hard at every single drill, at everything. She is one of the fittest people on the team and she is still doing double sessions,” Tutak said.
Ciabattone and Bussinelli’s drive has spread to the whole team, which has adopted a “this-is-our-year” mentality going into the season.
That common mentality is the team’s biggest strength.
“Our ability to work together and have a common vision is the thing we are best at. That translates into playing as a whole team,” said Tutak.
Even still, Tutak realizes a new wave of players on the roster and the loss of Natalie Burke and Lauren Smith, who both hold all-time school records, may cause some growing pains early in the season.
“The big difference for us is that it will be much more of a marathon than a sprint. The progression will be more gradual this season because we have a lot of new faces and lost two big seniors,” said Tutak.
The marathon begins at Alvernia University this Saturday at 1 p.m.
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