By Sarita Crandall & Marissa Chamberlain, Contributing Writers
It was looking like it was going to be a beautiful spring afternoon to play a game of lacrosse, but despite the ominous weather that grew over the field at Thomas College, the Women’s Lacrosse team never gave up and defeated Maine Maritime Academy (MMA) with a final score of 10-1. The rain added a dramatic component to the game, which was considered a home game for the Beavers despite the necessity of an alternative venue due to the conditions of Prescott Field.
As the Beavers warmed up before the game, Coach Beth Lebel, who is in her first year as head coach of UMF lacrosse, noted that this was going to be a game that they needed to compete. “MMA is going to battle, they’re physical, they’re fast and athletic, but we are too. If we can just connect our passes and transitions, then I think we should compete fairly well,” said Lebel.
Carly Raymond, a key player for the Beavers, said that on game days it’s an adrenaline rush. “I can’t focus in school, can’t sleep the night before,” Raymond said enthusiastically, “It’s all nerves and excitement!”
At the blow of the whistle to signal the start of the game the intensity was there for both teams, but UMF was more in control of the field and scored a goal in the first three minutes. The first goal was scored by Danielle Conway and assisted by Raymond.
It didn’t stop there for UMF. They continued to send four more goals into the net by the end of the first half. MMA was becoming discouraged by the control, composure, and finesse that our Lady Beavers were showing during the game. Some MMA players were becoming aggressive and unsportsmanlike out of frustration. Raymond mentioned that many teams are aggressive on the field and can get out of hand if the refs don’t set them straight. “Our team keeps our heads on our shoulders and fights through, we rarely fall to their level of checking and pushing,” Raymond stated proudly, “UMF in general has great sportsmanship!”
Sportsmanship and work ethic are two traits the Women’s Lacrosse team represents very well for UMF. The Beavers goal as a team was to have a positive team culture, and this was evident in practice the night prior to their game against MMA.
With a winter that seemed to last forever and piles of snow speckled with dirt still covering the UMF campus, many spring athletic teams can be found practicing anywhere they can find dry ground. A line of lacrosse sticks and equipment tucked behind the sidelines and a cluster of athletes with UMF maroon shorts and Beaver lacrosse tanks came into view when walking into the last two courts. Coach Lebel practiced her behind the head shot while the team warmed up. The first shot flew wide and landed a couple of laughs from her team. “Practice makes perfect!” she yelled. This seems to be the motto the Women’s Lacrosse team goes by.
After going for a two lap warm up run, the team came back to the court to complete their routine dynamic stretching, strength exercises, and basic skills. The team’s personality can be described as encouraging, lighthearted and supportive, all while having a competitive, intense edge. “They’re fun to be around,” said Lebel, “and they also know when it’s time to put their game faces on and work for everything.”
The team had just come off of a couple of losses over the weekend at New England College and Castleton ending a four game winning streak, but these athletes did not come to practice that Tuesday to dwell on those losses; they came to work and prepare for their next conference matchup against the MMA Mariners.
Despite the adversities caused by a Maine winter and being a young, fairly inexperienced varsity team, the Beavers have had a successful season so far with a record of 5-3. Coach Lebel doesn’t look at having players who are new to the sport as a hardship though. She explained that newcomers make positive contributions including work ethic and excitement to learn and get better at the sport.
Some of the success of the rookies definitely comes from support from the more seasoned players. Rhi Jackson, one of five seniors on the team, attributes this to a lot of team bonding and Coach Lebel’s “Big Beavs and Little Beavs” idea. Lebel paired each upperclassman with an underclassman. The “team buddies” give each other gifts and pump each other up before games.
Looking towards the future of UMF Women’s Lacrosse, Lebel hopes to expand the program further. “We will continue to take players who haven’t played before and those with limited high school experience, along with veteran high school and club lacrosse players,” said Lebel. “Girls’ lacrosse in Maine is expanding rapidly and I’m looking forward to continuing to grow the game with my team and program.”
Needless to say, their hard work did not go to waste. The Beavers came out even stronger in the second half of their recent matchup against MMA, scoring five more goals to assure them the win. Whenever a goal was scored there seemed to be a new energy on the field for UMF. For Raymond when she scores—during the game she acquired two goals—it’s a sigh of relief. “All the work to get to the net finally paid off!” The next game for the Beavers will be their Senior Game, Saturday, April 22 at 7 p.m. at Thomas.