The women’s lacrosse team is currently ranked 13th in the nation. Behind the exceptional play of senior attacker Tracy Rivas, the Bombers are undefeated in Empire 8 play and have won three of their last four games on their current road trip.
Rivas recently scored her 200th point and is now third on the school’s all-time list in that category.
Staff Writer Mark Warren spoke to Rivas about her climb up the record books, her last season as a Bomber and the team’s prospects as the season reaches its home stretch.
Mark Warren: At 6–4 overall, how do you think your team will fare during the last six games?
Tracy Rivas: I think the next couple of games are not going to be easy, but we definitely have an advantage in terms of the players we have on our team and the connections we’ve been making. We’ve been showing a lot of improvement, and Coach [Shannon McHale] said something really valid today, she said, ‘Our biggest challenge is going to be ourselves. The only way we are going to continue to improve is by playing and bringing 100 percent every single day.’ So in order for us to continue to make improvements and continue to raise the bar, we need to just bring our focus out every day. We need to take practices seriously. In practices, we need to know what to focus on and really improve on those things.
MW: How does it feel to be 3rd on the all-time scoring list, with 215 total — 155 goals and 60 assists?
TR: I haven’t really thought about it too much. I was talking to Coach in the beginning of the season, and she said there was going to be opportunities for me to improve my status in terms of the conference and the nation. She said, ‘Don’t let that get to you, make sure you continue to go out and play your game.’ I really try to make a point of that every single day. It’s not about the records that I have, although they are a bonus and a cherry on top, but it’s about the fact that I love to come out and play every day and be with my team and see the improvements that we make and the chemistry that we have.
MW: Who do you feel has helped you the most as you climb the record books? Teammates, coaches, etc.?
TR: Strategically my coach now, Shannon, has really helped me become a more versatile and well-rounded player. Last year, looking at my final stats, I’ve improved a lot in assisting this season. I had never really utilized assisting as much as I do now, so developing that was really awesome. I learned a lot from her. She showed me the opportunities I have when I’m double-teamed, that there are opportunities to look and see who is open. She taught me to be an assistor as opposed to just a scorer. I expanded my well-roundedness so much because of my coach. But emotionally and motivation-wise it’s my team — I play for my team. They feed off of the energy that I give and vice versa, which is really powerful.
MW: Coach McHale mentioned that increasingly teams are face-guarding you and locking you down specifically?
TR: Yeah, and obviously there’s a large burden in our upcoming games for me to play well and to score. To see other players step up like they have been recently kind of takes away some of that burden, and it also makes you more prideful of the team you are a part of.
MW: As a senior who is partway through her last season as a Bomber, do you feel pressure to perform at a high level, or are you just enjoying it?
TR: I think a bit of both. In the beginning of the season there was definitely a lot more pressure because we were playing a lot of top-10 teams. So the first thing they are going to do is scout out the best players on their opponent’s team, so I would get face-guarded right away. So that pressure to score and be that player for the team was really heavy. At the same time, I kind of work with the pressure — the only way I really rise to the challenge is the pressure I have on me. When you are able to rise, it’s the best feeling in the world.
MW: How has your place as a senior and team leader helped the younger players?
TR: I feel very proud of our younger players, like a parent. It’s pretty cool to see when they do well that they have the confidence to do so. It goes to show that we have such a versatile team, that if they lock someone out from scoring that someone else will be able to step up. That’s such a strong component of our team and such an important asset. If some people aren’t on their game or whatnot, that other players can step up and fill that void.