March 20, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 50°F


Women’s lacrosse shoots for first Liberty League title

Despite the frigid temperatures and a seemingly never-ending supply of snow, the spring season of sports has begun, which means the return of the Ithaca College women’s lacrosse team to Higgins Stadium. 

After a very successful season last year in which the Bombers finished with a lofty record of 17–4 — breaking the program record for wins in a single season — the team is looking to avenge its loss to the William Smith College Herons in the Liberty League Championship on May 8, 2022. At the time, the loss to the Herons marked only the third of the season for the Bombers, each of which were by a slim one-point deficit. 

Regardless of the devastating loss, the Bombers were able to march onto the scene at the NCAA tournament and make some noise in the big dance. They were able to take down a top-tier opponent with a 19–9 victory over Cabrini University on May 15, but the magic came to an end after a one-goal loss to the former No. 6 team in the country, Franklin and Marshall College, on May 21. 

Despite losing some veteran leadership, the Bombers’ roster is loaded with young talent and their offense should continue to explode. The team has both of its goalkeepers back to anchor its defense and head coach Karrie Moore has proven she can lead the squad to victory with her outstanding record of 92–29 throughout her eight-season career at Ithaca College. 

With a star-studded roster and plenty of experience, the expectations for the Bombers have never been higher. Junior midfielder and captain Sydney Phillips said the team’s focus is geared toward building on its already stellar accomplishments. 

“Our team focuses on our purpose and why we want to be here,” Phillips said. “We want to continue our established success and obviously take down William Smith this year because they beat us in the Liberty League final last year.” 

With the team being largely underclassmen — with first-year students and sophomores making up 20 athletes on the 29-woman roster — and only one senior, the responsibilities of leading a team fall onto the shoulders of senior goalkeeper and captain Kayla Howley. 

“Being the only senior has definitely taken some getting used to, but I’m fully embracing my leadership role now,” Howley said. “I don’t feel pressured ever because my teammates are so supportive and my other upperclassmen take on leadership roles as well. I try to push the memo, ‘Don’t leave any gas in the tank,’ and the girls really embrace it.” 

Phillips, who tallied an outstanding 16 goals across the Bombers’ four postseason games in 2022, has also taken on a leadership role after being named a captain for her junior season with the team.

“I want to focus on embracing my leadership role as well, especially now that I’m a captain,” Phillips said. “It’s definitely some pressure, but it allows me to support the girls around me, and having them look up to me as a leader is really special.” 

Though the importance of having a talented roster is crucial, the attitudes and mindset of the coaching staff are what have led the team to its deep playoff runs. Phillips said the idea of commitment is one shared by her teammates. 

“The coaching staff is extremely committed to their team and they truly hold us accountable for our play,” Phillips said. 

Howley added that along with the principle of commitment, her team holds trust to the highest standard.

“Trust is a word that is very driven into our program,” Howley said. “It’s nice to be in an environment where we can all trust each other to make our team better as a whole.”

Moore has put together a talented squad who she said has what it takes to bring the team to the next level. 

“We have a very young roster and we expect them to bring lots of energy while absorbing as much as they can,” Moore said. “In terms of key players, we have a lot of key returners: [junior midfielder] Caroline Wise is huge in the draw control department for us, [junior midfielder] Lexi Kellish and [sophomore midfielder] Elizabeth Green are emerging in the midfield and [junior defender] Maggie Mandel has truly stepped up on defense.”

In terms of her team goals for the season, Moore kept it simple.

“We want to win a conference title and we want to win the national championship,” Moore said. “Right now, we are figuring out the puzzle pieces to build our team and we certainly have some tough tests including William Smith, Cortland and Amherst, but I think this team has what it takes.”

The Bombers will continue their 2023 season when they welcome the Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham Devils at 3 p.m. March 4 at Higgins Stadium.