2014 Spring Recaps: Women's Lacrosse
No one likes the term "rebuilding year", but like it or not, the Merrimack College women's lacrosse team was entering one in 2014.
After graduating six seniors from a season ago, the Warriors were forced to thrust key roles on the field into the hands of some very young players, a situation that is not necessarily conducive to a plethora of wins. Considering the fact that the Northeast-10 Conference has arguably become the best league in both men's and women's lacrosse nationwide, it was not entirely surprising to see a young team struggle against some of the country's most elite programs.
Regardless, it was certainly was new territory for first-year head coach Michael Daly, who has guided teams at both the Division I and II levels to great success but was presented perhaps his greatest coaching challenge this spring. But despite the losses, what the Warriors gained is not always measurable on statistical leader boards or in the conference standings; a foundation was built for, what Daly believes, will be a great program down the road.
"I think this year truly was a great building block," Daly exclaimed. "It was a rebuilding year for a very young team, and we knew that going in, but I don't think our final record indicates the progress we made as the year progressed. We played plenty of close games that could've gone either way, in so many of those games – against some extremely challenging opponents – we were right there."
That surely was the case for a team that lost seven games by five goals of fewer – including three two-goal losses and a one-goal loss, as well. And that's not mentioning just how challenging the team's schedule was; in total, the Warriors faced six nationally ranked opponents at the time those games were played, with several others on the cusp of the national rankings. Still, the team never backed down and strung together flashes of play that resembled a team well beyond their years.
"The most important thing we can take from this spring was the fact that we were setting a foundation for the future," Daly continued. "In the best league in Division II, nonetheless, we managed to finish strong and played our best lacrosse toward the end of the season with a very young team. I'm very excited for the future of this program."
Merrimack finished the year with two wins, including a season-opening victory against Findlay in double overtime and another home win against fellow NE-10 opponent Southern New Hampshire later in March.
Individually, sophomore attack Aubrie Stouffer (Souderton, Pa.) claimed the team's scoring title, finishing with an even 40 points on 20 goals and 20 assists. Behind her, freshman Megan Fero (East Manlius, N.Y.) ranked second in scoring with 21 points. Looking to the future, Merrimack can rest easy knowing that six of the team's double-digit point-scorers all return for 2015.
In net, graduating senior Inna Hedden (Woodbine, Md.) was the team's rock; the Maryland native led the NE-10 with 163 saves and played all 1015:33 in net. She, fellow senior Dara Hayes (Calgary, Alberta) and junior Olivia Coakley (Bridgewater, Mass.) served as tri-captains and guided an extremely young team from start to finish.
This is the third of an eight-part Merrimack Athletics spring recap series.
May 20: Women's Golf
May 21: Women's Crew
May 22: Women's Lacrosse
May 23: Baseball
May 26: Softball
May 27: Men's Lacrosse
May 28: Tennis
May 29: Track & Field