The UMBC women’s lacrosse team kicked off their season on Feb. 13 against American University, playing through the bitter cold and winning in overtime 9-8. Since that first game, the Retrievers have practiced and competed in the freezing conditions of the Maryland winter, coming out the other side with their current record of 2-4. With spring now on the horizon and the America East Conference Tournament starting in less than a month, the Retrievers are looking to fine tune their 2019 team in order to have the best chance of making it to the playoffs.
The Retrievers went into this season ranked fifth by the annual America East Conference Coaches’ Preseason Poll, a poll where the coaches of the America East vote on the ranking of each team in the conference except for their own. This rank is down by two places from their 2018 ranking; the Retrievers were ranked third in going into the 2018 season. This year’s fifth-place ranking is due to, in part, the team being just shy of making it to the championships last year, finishing the conference tournament with a 3-4 record.
The ranking is also a result of the loss of several key players from that 2018 team. The Retrievers no longer have All-Conference honorees midfielder Carolyn Jamison, who has the third-most goals scored all-time, and midfielder Caitlin Miller, who holds the school record in most draw controls in a season. They did, however, return 15 letter winners, including two-time All-Conference honorees graduate-attacker Lauren McDonald and senior-attacker Payton Van Kirk. McDonald also holds the school record for most goals made during a season, scoring 62 goals in 2018.
With the loss of those seniors, the new players were asked to shoulder the weight the seniors had. The team has six new freshman and one new sophomore this season, each bringing their own sports honors and skill sets to the team. Freshman-attackers Kelsey Weishaar and Rachel Ridley are two of their biggest draws. Weishaar has started in six games for the Retrievers and has one goal and five assists, earning the team six points in total. Ridley is the only other freshman that has matched that number of points, playing in five of the six total games and getting six assists.
These new Retrievers, along with the rest of the team, are led by only two captains this season, senior-defender Jenna Baverman and senior-midfielder Catherin Sims, as opposed to the previous three years. Baverman is in her second year as a captain, having helped lead the 2018 team to their third appearance at the America East Tournament, a feat that has not happened since 2012.
Compared to that 2018 team, this year’s team lacks depth as it only holds 25 players as opposed to the 28 from a year ago. The Retrievers are comprised of mostly senior and sophomore players. The team will have eight players who graduate following this season. With so many seniors, the leadership on the team is far from lacking, McDonald and Van Kirk, as well as senior-defender Grayson Corbett can provide the freshman and sophomores with guidance on and off the field.
Even more guidance is given by head coach Amy Slade and assistant coaches Alex Benedict and Morgan Stephens, all three returning for the 2019 season. While Assistant coach Morgan Stephens is only in her third season with the Retrievers, each season she has been on staff the team has made it to the America East Tournament.
Between the star freshmen, the strong upperclassmen leadership and the good coaching staff, the Retrievers are looking for good performances against their conference opponents. Despite their current losing streak, the team is confident that they will finish better than their fifth-place ranking and that this will be their fourth time in a row heading to the America East Tournament.