Rosemary Chesney, asst. sports editor

After four consecutive seasons of not making the SAA tournament, Berry women’s lacrosse team is scheduled to compete in this year’s SAA conference tournament on Friday. This weekend will be the first time that any player on the current roster competes in an SAA conference tournament for lacrosse.

This year, the team had their first winning season in five years with an overall record of 9-5. Berry will compete against Birmingham-Southern College in Memphis, Tenn. 

Senior Lisa Bemis is a defensive player on the team. She said that the team is thrilled at a chance to compete in the tournament.

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“This is the first time we’ve gotten to the tournament since I’ve been on the team, and I’m super excited to have placed in the playoffs,” Bemis said. “Every victory this season has been comprised from every girl, regardless of whether they are on the field or sidelines. We all contribute to every small victory.” 

According to Bemis, one of the team’s biggest strengths this season is its growth in numbers from last season. There are 23 players this season as opposed to 18 players on the team last season. The team size was smaller last year due to several major injuries. 

Sophomore Allison Washburn played for the team’s defense last season and plays as goalie this season. She said having a larger roster has been a major asset.

“We have a very young team this year, which has brought a lot of energy and skills,” Washburn said. “Family was one of the biggest words that our coaches emphasized from the time that we were recruited. I’ve never been on a team this close.” 

With a bigger roster this year comes other challenges. According to Washburn, finding a way to allow every athlete playing time has been an obstacle. Senior defensive player Hayley Desandre said that the team’s bond this season has helped to overcome this obstacle. 

“Our team does a great job at [emphasizing] that every player has a place and worth outside of field time,” Desandre said. “Our team is like a family which really helps in low points in the game when things are not going our way.” 

Desandre said that the coaches highlight the importance of interpersonal relationships on the team. Brittni Hall is the head coach, while Taylor Watkins is the assistant coach. According to Bemis, the players respect both coaches equally and the coaches split the coaching 50/50 between offense and defense. 

“I love how different every girl is on the team,” Bemis said. “We embrace each other’s differences which helps us be better friends and sisters to each other. I think that will serve us well later in life in the workplace and even neighborhoods.” 

Sophia Coon | Campus Carrier

Another challenge this season has been maintaining physical health. Due to shortened seasons because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this season is the first full four-month season since 2019. Washburn said the season has been a toll on the players’ bodies. 

“The coaches have been great at helping us not strain ourselves too bad,” Washburn said. “There’s also been tough mental challenges since none of us are used to the length of the season anymore. Our coaches have really helped get everyone back to a place where we can compete and play.” 

Sophomore Haley Larsen is a midfielder on the lacrosse team and has been offensive player of the week twice this season. She said that the coaches hold the team to a very high standard, which contributes to their success this season. 

“When you first come in, [Coach Hall] can be kind of intimidating,” Larsen said. “She’s a very ‘get it done and get it done right’ kind of person and that can be very intimidating. She’s awesome when you sit down and genuinely talk with her. She wants to help you wholistically, not just lacrosse but every aspect of life.” 

The team promotes student leadership from within. The team is split into four different micro-squads with “pod” leaders. During the game, instead of meeting altogether, the team meets in micro-squads to check on everyone personally. Larsen said the team comradery has been another major factor to their wins this season. 

“Lacrosse can be really hard,” Larsen said. “The girls are so awesome that it makes it worth it. Anytime we are sprinting or crying, it’s great to look around and see your teammates working just as hard as you and know that they’re there for the same reasons as you.”

Posted by Campus Carrier

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