Women’s lacrosse: New year brings new expectations

Midfielder Kelly Hagerty runs the ball at practice, defended by midfielders Anna Schneeberger (left) and Lindsey Zeltwanger.

Image: Carson McGorry

Midfielder Kelly Hagerty runs the ball at practice, defended by midfielders Anna Schneeberger (left) and Lindsey Zeltwanger.

Sophie Peel, Staff Writer

The Mercer women’s lacrosse team is in their second competitive season, but there are some changes. With a new coaching staff, the players are starting fresh — again.

This year’s team dynamic, including the relationship between player and coach, is nothing like last year, members of the group said.

“It’s definitely been a really positive thing,” said sophomore Victoria Ferdinandi on the new coaching staff. “They’re holding us to a higher standard. Just from the fall to now, you can see the improvements.”

Head Coach Samantha Eustace had only good things to say about the acceptance the girls showed to a complete turnaround of staff.

She said she was thankful about “how quickly they embraced the coaching staff.”

“This group is really excited to get coached and to get pushed hard,” Eustace said.

When the girls came to school in August, they were still unsure of who their new coach was going to be. They had been told over the summer that their previous coach was not returning for the next season. The first few months of school were spent searching for a head coach and then an assistant coach.

“They didn’t sign up for my coaching staff and myself,” Eustace said.

Despite the uncertainty that hovered over their heads before the school year, the team has settled into the season. Collectively, they have been pushing themselves physically and mentally.

Sophomore Kate Christian said the pressure has been mounting since first semester.

“There’s more pressure because we have a year under our belt. We know what to expect,” Christian said. “The community doesn’t expect a lot; we’re still building our reputation. But we expect a lot from ourselves.”

The team has only five juniors; the rest are sophomores and freshmen.

Eustace said that the two captains, Lindsey Zeltwanger and Audrey Allen, are not alone in their leadership roles. Younger girls, even freshmen, are beginning to speak up “at the right times.”

“That’s the environment we want to create — an environment where leadership can spring up,” Eustace said.

Not many coaches actively participate in the sport they coach. Too often coaches critique without offering demonstration, which can be frustrating for players. These coaches, the players said, are always active.

Assistant Coach Sara Kuhlman was a decorated lacrosse player at High Point, and several players have called her a “firecracker” addition to the team.

With a new dynamic, a new coach, and a new set of expectations, Mercer women’s lacrosse is ready to take a jab at the Southern Conference.