Annie Deitz, Campus Carrier managing editor
On Feb. 23, Berry’s women’s lacrosse team played their first game since Berry moved online in March of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team beat Piedmont College 14-10 during an away game, before coming back to campus to win against Huntingdon College 16-1 last Saturday.
As the team starts the season off with a winning streak, junior co-captain Cydney Maddox explained that their performance so far has allowed the team to recognize their strengths and weaknesses, which they are addressing and will continue to do in the future.
“It was great to have our first win, that definitely set the tone for the season so I’m excited about that,” Maddox said. “There’s no perfect game, so it was also an eye opener to what we need to work on.”
This season, the team is having to overcome a variety of obstacles related to the COVID- 19 pandemic. As other junior co-captain Hayley DeSandre described, a major issue the women’s team has had to overcome is their limited fall play.
DeSandre explained that while the team was able to practice more in the fall than in years past, they weren’t able to have their traditional fall game day.
“Normally, in the fall, we have this month-long thing called fall ball, which usually ends on a game day,” DeSandre said. “This year, with COVID, it was completely different. We got to practice all fall, which was really cool, but we didn’t get to have a game day, just with COVID restrictions we had that extra stress of safety.”
Maddox further explained that this lack of a fall game day was a notable setback for the team, as it limited the players ability to have competitive experience and understand this year’s team dynamic.
“That’s our one day in the fall to see how we are chemistry wise, see where we’re at for spring season and get a couple of games under our belt that day,” Maddox said. “That took a hit to morale. We lost that. That was tough for us.”
According to DeSandre, this only helped to intensify the lack of recent game experience across the team. The women’s team has a large freshman class, with seven out of the 19 players in their first year of college-level lacrosse. As even the upperclassman had not played a game in nearly a year, the opportunity to play last week was both exciting and eye opening.
“With a lot of our underclassmen, our freshman, a lot of them haven’t played lacrosse in several months, and they haven’t ever played a college game,” DeSandre said. “Our sophomores haven’t played a college game in almost a year. Pretty much everybody else hasn’t played a game in over a year, but we have experience at the college level. So in our first game against Piedmont, it was really fascinating to see all of the freshmen adjust their playing styles and their speeds to a college game, because the strength and the speed in a college game is completely different than a high school game.”
Another major difference in the spring 2021 women’s lacrosse season has been scheduling. As explained by other co-captain junior Lisa Bemis, in a traditional year, Berry’s team would play other conference teams twice throughout the semester. This year, to minimize travel and limit COVID-19 safety issues, teams will be playing each other back to back over the course of the weekend.
“That is definitely going to be difficult,” Bemis said. “We haven’t done that before, and last week our games were a few days apart. It will be taxing on the team to have all of that filled time, and we’ll be really reliant on our athletic trainers. Luckily, we have the biggest bench we have ever had this year, with 19 people on the team we should be able to switch out and get some rest throughout, but yeah, it will be difficult.”
Despite all of these challenges, all three co-captains are confident that this year’s team will succeed throughout the season. Inspired by the victories thus far, Maddox believes that the team will continue to grow throughout the spring.
“Going into the season, we were proud of ourselves, proud of the way we worked,” Maddox said. “After our first couple of wins, that’s when we’ve been growing more so. The word for the rest of the season is ‘focus,’ to continue this trend we have.”
According to Bemis, the team has a “team story” aimed at centralizing goals and uniting the players. The tale, titled “I Can Sleep When The Wind Blows,” describes a farmer looking for someone to help tend his land. The farmer has difficulty finding anyone for the job due to the common storms in the area, and, desperate for help, hires a man with little farming experience. When the farmer inquires about his skills, the man responds “I can sleep when the wind blows.” One night later on, a large storm approaches and the farmer runs to the hand’s sleeping quarters to awaken him so they could work to get ready for the storm. The hand says, “No sir, I already told you I can sleep when the wind blows.” Initially enraged, the farmer walked around the farm only to see that the farm was already prepared for the storm. As Bemis explained, the story represents the value of being prepared and ready for anything, and is increasingly relevant to the team during this season.
“Our motto for the year is ‘when the wind blows,’” Bemis said. “The whole thing is about preparation. You never know, this could be our last game, we could all be going home tomorrow. It’s about being prepared for everything.”
With this motto, the team feels ready to tackle the upcoming conference play. As DeSandre describes, the team is more prepared than in any prior years, both in terms of skill and chemistry.
“I feel like we are the strongest we’ve been internally and relationally, chemistry wise,” DeSandre said. “It’s been amazing. To be in a good headspace when going against these opponents, I feel like we’re going in much stronger. Not a lot of these teams that we’ve played against in the past are expecting us to come in with a force. But they have no idea what’s coming for them. This is a completely different women’s lacrosse team than it has been in the past few years.”
The women’s lacrosse team will play next against Birmingham-Southern College this weekend, with a game at noon on Saturday and 11:00 a.m. on Sunday.