Samantha Eustace came off the field after a windy morning practice the day before a conference game against Kennesaw State. She and the Mercer women’s lacrosse team are ready.
“Our team has worked really hard in practice, in the weight room, and on their own,” Eustace said.
Coming off one tough loss to Jacksonville last week and an exciting win over Stetson in the last minute and a half of the game, she is continuing to push her team to their goal of making a run in the conference tournament.
After the team was left without a coach early last semester, Eustace stepped in. Director of Athletics Jim Cole announced Eustace would replace Eve Levison in the first week of school.
“I am proud to announce the hiring of Samantha Eustace to lead our women’s lacrosse program,” Cole said in a press release. “Samantha comes from a nationally recognized program and rose to the top of our search list because of her reputation as an outstanding coach and more importantly as a person of high character.”
Before coming to Mercer, Eustace coached at James Madison University, a top 20 D-I school in Virginia. She also coached at a number of prep schools before that, including St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes school where they were the top-ranked team in the country.
Sophomore midfielder and team captain Lindsey Zeltwanger has welcomed the change in the coaching staff and is seeing improvements in team spirit.
“She’s the type of coach that you want to work hard for and want to win games for. She cares about us as players and people which, is different than last year ’cause the old coach wasn’t really invested in us,” Zeltwanger said.
Zeltwanger, who Eustace noted as the team’s best player, said that Eustace is committed to making the team a fun environment. Eustace even invited the team over to her house to have a Chopped challenge.
“I am a big believer in a lot of team bonding, so we have done a lot of activities throughout the year,” said Eustace. The team also participated in a 5k run for Jay’s Hope where the team was the 101 Dalmatians and Eustace was Cruella DeVille.
Before being introduced to lacrosse, Eustace played baseball for a while before having to switch to softball at her high school in Ohio. Before her sophomore year, she hadn’t even heard of lacrosse. But since all of her friends were playing it she picked up a stick too and ended up playing at the University of Massachusetts.
As anyone would, Eustace had some reservations coming in as the new face.
“Coming in new to a team, you don’t know what you are going to get from the athletes on the team. Will they resist change or welcome the change? Will they want to work hard? It’s always tough being new,” Eustace said.
As the weather continues to heat up, so will the intensity of the season as they near the conference tournament.