May 21, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 74°F

Sports

Women’s lacrosse team set to compete for national championship

After a dominant 2021 season in which the Ithaca College women’s lacrosse team went 14–2, the Bombers entered the upcoming campaign ranked as one of the top squads in the nation with championship aspirations. 

The team entered the season ranked No. 4 by the ILWomen/Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) preseason poll and No. 7 by the Nike/USA Lacrosse Magazine preseason poll. After losing nine seniors from last year’s team to graduation, the Bombers will turn to three graduate students and a highly touted sophomore class of eight players to help lead the way. Alexa Ritchie, graduate student midfielder and captain, said despite the departure of last year’s strong senior group, she is confident that the team has the ability to contend for a national title. 

“I think our expectations are pretty high for where we’ve got to go,” Ritchie said. “There’s always that talk of [how] we graduated a huge senior class, but what they don’t realize is this team right now has so much potential and so many players have already played … there’s no worry for our performance this year and expectations left off right where we ended last year.”

The Bombers’ impressive 2021 season came to a halt in the third round of the NCAA Championship, falling to No. 4 Salisbury University by a final score of 16–5. The team posted a perfect 11–0 regular season record, playing a shortened slate of games because the start of the season was delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bombers are set to return to a full schedule in 2022, with 17 contests on the team’s regular season slate. Head coach Karrie Moore said she is looking forward to once again having a traditional spring. 

“It’s certainly nice to get back in what we think of as [a] regular schedule,” Moore said. “I think something that I’ve come to really appreciate about our players is we just take things as they come and we worry about what we can control. And that’s just kind of how we roll with things and it’s served us well.”

The Bombers were able to overcome adversity presented by the pandemic last season, recording 16.50 goals and 21.88 points per game as a team, which was the best mark in the Liberty League. This dominant offensive output was led by midfielder Jacqui Hallack 21, who led the Liberty League with 4.94 goals and 5.94 points per game. This impressive campaign earned Hallack All-American honors, being named IWLCA Division III National Midfielder of the Year, IWLCA First-Team and to the USA Lacrosse Magazine First Team. 

Rachel Rosenberg, graduate student and captain, was also a key contributor to the Bombers’ dominant year, leading the team with 38 ground balls collected and 34 turnovers forced. This resume helped her earn IWLCA First-Team All-Empire Region, All-Liberty League First-Team and IWLCA Second-Team All-American honors in 2021. The defender also enters this season as a First-Team Preseason All-American by USA Lacrosse Magazine. 

The Bombers will also look to graduate student Madison Boutureira to make an impact, coming off a season in which she posted the team’s third-highest point total. The attacker recorded a total of 46 points and 30 goals. These credentials earned Boutureira a spot on the All-Liberty League First-Team and she was honored as an IWLCA Second-Team All-Region player.

This season, the team will rely on its three veteran captains to step up as leaders, turning to Ritchie, Rosenberg and senior midfielder Megan Motkowski. The senior said the upperclassmen have been making an effort to introduce the group’s freshmen and sophomores to the program’s winning tradition. 

“We have a pretty solid culture,” Motkowski said. “So, I think we’ve really shown that to the new underclassmen, and they really have all hopped on board. So I don’t think there’s any reason we shouldn’t get to the same standard and success that we had last season.”

Moore, Ritchie and Motkowski each said they are impressed with this year’s sophomore class and believe it will play an integral role this spring. Moore said she is particularly looking forward to seeing what attacker Maizy Veitch and midfielder Sydney Phillips bring to the table. 

Phillips saw significant minutes in her first collegiate season, checking into all but one of the Bombers’ 16 games in 2021. The midfielder recorded seven total points, netting six goals in the process. Veitch played in 11 games during her freshman season, scoring seven goals and posting a total of 10 points. 

Ritchie said that she has been impressed by the sophomore class’s relatively seamless transition into college lacrosse, especially because of the challenging environment the pandemic has created.

“They just are so knowledgeable on lacrosse in general. Their game IQs are so high,” Ritchie said. “They know so much about our team specifically, like how we run our offense, how we run our defense, the culture and everything. And it’s just translated so well with their skills and they’re a group to look out for, for sure.”

Moore said the team’s mindset entering the season is to focus on each game and improve throughout the course of the season. 

“I think we just want to make sure that we take it one game at a time and we compete,” Moore said. “I think we’re really just trying to make sure that we are working hard and meeting our own expectations so that we’re raising the bar for ourselves.”

Ritchie echoed a similar sentiment, saying that the team strives to improve each day as it works to compete for both Liberty League and national titles. The midfielder said while the team focuses on each game, one of its toughest games in the conference will be against Williams Smith College, which enters the season ranked sixth in the nation. The Bombers are 24–33 in their all-time meetings with the Herons. 

“We always say we’re improving every single day and every single game,” Ritchie said. “We talk about milestones a lot instead of goals and basically taking it one day at a time. Of course, we want to win a national championship, before that we want to win a Liberty League [title] and we’re hungry for it. But we’ve got to worry about practice today at 4 p.m., and we’ve got to worry about practice tomorrow and a scrimmage on Saturday. There are so many steps that go before then.”

The team opened its season against two formidable opponents, facing off against No. 16 SUNY Brockport Feb. 26 and No. 13 SUNY Cortland March 2. Moore said she has been impressed with the way the team began its season in practice and is looking forward to the spring. 

“I’m excited about where we are,” Moore said. “We have a lot of potential and we have a lot of room for growth. And I think we have great upperclassmen leadership, I think our sophomores are doing a great job helping the freshmen. And I think as long as we stay on that path, I think we’re going to be really happy with the season.”

Tommy Mumau can be reached at tmumau@ithaca.edu