For the fourth time in as many years, Bridge-water State University’s women’s lacrosse team has a new head coach. Erica Adams, former head coach of Pine Manor College, has coached as an assistant for Mount Ida College, Hendrix College (Ar.) and Norwich University before signing on with the Bears in the fall of 2015.
Despite the switch up among management, BSU has captured three straight MASCAC tournaments qualifying them for an NCAA tournament bid each year. Before a year ago, the Bears were the MASCAC regular season champions each year since the conference began play in 2009.
In 2015, BSU women’s lacrosse took another step in the right direction winning a first round matchup in the Division III NCAA Tournament over St. Joseph’s (Me.) before they were bounced in round two by Bowdoin College.
“Knowing the expectations were already high I wanted to raise the bar a little bit so they can see their potential,” said Adams. We’re very realistic but we have high expectations.”
“Our goal is to get to the third round this season and if you can make that one step every year, eventually the only next step would be the championship.”
Leading the Bears in all offensive categories is junior Melissa Renauld. Renauld has amassed 41 points on a count of 24 goals and 17 assists.
Senior Lauren Geary is right behind Renauld with 23 goals of her own, leads the team with 40 ground balls and has added eight assists on the season. Geary, who is a co-captain for the Bears, receives high praise from her new head coach.
“Lauren is a leader in every aspect of the game as far as effort, mentality, toughness,” said Adams. “She has those intangible skill sets you can’t teach; she has a knack for the ball.”
BSU has a solid core of upperclassmen that also attribute to the team’s success. Junior Alex King is second on the team in points (34) with 20 goals and 14 assists. Senior attack Marissa Yowell has netted 19 goals and dished out four assists of her own.
“I can’t take credit for how well this team has grown together, it’s the junior and senior classes that have been the glue,” said Adams.
In the MASCAC season opener, BSU was pressured by Fitchburg St. as they quickly fell behind 5-2 but added two goals right before the half to trim the lead. In the second half, the Bears exploded for ten goals and held their opponent to just two, earning the 14-7 victory.
BSU goaltender, Allie Foreman, recorded a career high 21 saves in that game. A second MASCAC contest proved to be less competitive with the Bears toppling Mass. Maritime 18-3.
Freshman Elizabeth Ettridge has earned the MASCAC Women’s Lacrosse Rookie of the Week award three teams on the season for her outstanding play in her first collegiate season. Ettridge has dropped in 14 goals and five assists in only four starts this season.
“It’s going to come down to mental toughness when you’re in the MASCAC,” said Adams. “When you’ve been successful for so long you have a very big target so you’re going to get everyone’s A-game, every game.”
Great teams are always trying to get better, and the Bears certainly are not content with anything less than taking another step forward this season. “For some reason, in a game like lacrosse, complacency becomes a commonality and it can really hurt you,” said Adams. “Unfortunately we showed signs of of that and it can haunt you in a long season.”
“We have to get over that hump and make sure we are having a sense of urgency in every aspect of the game.”
With the MASCAC conference season still young, BSU is tied with Framingham St. at the top of the standings at 2-0.
Those two teams will meet in Framingham on the final week of the season Wednesday Feb. 7 before the regular season finale Friday, Feb. 9 against Worcester St.
Brendan Coughlin is the Sports Editor for The Comment.