Rookie coach Jessica Paige leads lacrosse to record season
THE SANTA CLARA
May 14, 2015
While the women’s club lacrosse team’s season may have ended earlier than expected last Thursday in the second round of the Women’s Club Lacrosse Association National Championship, the team cannot help but look back and rejoice on the successful season they had.
“This year’s team was amazing. We kept saying we have such a deep bench because we never rely on one person to make all the plays,” said junior Alexa Robinson. “Throw any player on the field and she will step up big time and leave it all on the field.”
The effort certainly showed this season for the Broncos as they went undefeated in regular season play.
The team would then eventually defeat UCLA in the Western Women’s Lacrosse League Championship to win the league and cap off one of the most successful seasons in Santa Clara history.
“We played for each other,” said sophomore Maggie Von Massenhausen. “Our strength was that we played our best when we worked together as a team and never depended solely on one player.”
The team’s success in the regular season earned them the number one seed in the WCLA tournament where they faced Maryland (16) in the first round.
The Terps held Santa Clara close and kept the game tied at halftime 7-7.
A quick 5-1 run in the first six minutes of the second half helped the Broncos surge past the Terps and clinch the first round victory 17-11.
In the second round Santa Clara fell victim to Virginia Tech, the cinderella team of the tournament.
Despite leading 5-4 at halftime, the Broncos were forced into overtime with the game tied 8-8 and conceded the winning goal to end their season.
“The heart was there, but it was the first time all season where things just didn’t click,” Robinson said.
If it is any consolation prize, Virginia Tech would end up making it all the way to the title game before losing to Michigan.
On a brighter note, the team’s success came under a first-year head coach.
Head Coach Jessica Paige took on the program this year with high aspirations, but the end result was nevertheless beyond her expectation.
The team won playoffs for just the third time in team history after the first ever undefeated season.
Furthermore, the squad’s WCLA tournament appearance was the first time they achieved a top seed rank.
“(The team) didn’t know what to expect with having new coaching staff and they willingly followed the new concepts they were being taught,” Paige said. “This team has such amazing heart and dedication.”
The squad also finished the season fifth, according to LaxPower, out of the 88 teams in Division 1 in the end of the year WCLA rankings.
“I would have to say this season has been the strongest one I’ve played in here at Santa Clara,” Robinson said. “Our program is one rooted in tradition and (Paige) managed to keep all of the aspects that make Santa Clara lacrosse while bringing a new perspective.”
Paige plans on returning next year with hopes of dealing with unfinished business after getting knocked out of the national championships.
“This team is only on the rise and even though we were successful this year, there is definitely some unfinished business,” Brooke Betts said. “They will come back firing next year ready to win a National Championship.”
Although the team graduates six seniors, many key players will still be on the field for the Broncos next season, including first team All-Americans Von Massenhausen and Robinson.
“This team has very strong underclassman, with soon to be seniors who will be great leaders.” Betts said.
The 2016 team should also see the return of their top scorer sophomore Beth Ruder, who scored 26 goals in 11 regular season games and sophomore Claire Smoker who was the third leading scorer with 18 goals on the season.
The seniors will surely be missed, especially WCLA Midfielder of the Year Dana Kilsby and First Team All-American attacker Betts, who were the team’s respective points leaders this school year (44, 38).
“We will certainly miss our seniors, especially their leadership on and off the field,” Paige said. “Next years team will have a lot to build on and we’re looking forward to meeting our incoming freshmen.”
Contact Nick Redfield at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.