Vaughn DiBattista (email@example.com)
On February 15th, 2022, the Centennial Conference released the results of a preseason poll for the 2022 Women’s lacrosse season. Topping the list was the reigning conference champion Franklin & Marshall, with Gettysburg not far behind. After that, the order went Washington, Dickinson, Haverford, McDaniel, Muhlenberg, Swarthmore, and coming in at second to last were the Ursinus College Bears.
After a winless 2021 season, the Bears found themselves at the bottom of the poll. When at the bottom of the ladder, it can be easy to embrace the loser’s mentality. It could seem tempting to treat this season as a chore, and find easy ways to get through the season. However, losing has never been the interest of the girls on the team. Coming in at number nine left the Bears hungry to prove the conference wrong. “When we saw that ranking, we decided to use it as motivation,” stated Grace Lynch ‘25.
In the face of adversity, the Bears have done nothing but shine. As of March 30th, the bears are 5-3, and are currently the 4th ranked team in the conference. The Bears boast their best record since 2017, with no signs of slowing down. Amidst the success, the team has found a home in their star attack line of Maeve Leonzi ‘25, Grace Lynch ‘25, and Reilly Morgan ‘22.
In her first eight collegiate games, Lynch boasts a mind-numbing 33 points, the second most in the Centennial Conference thus far. Along with her, Leonzi has had an outstanding first season with 21 goals, the 7th most in the conference. The two freshmen have been absolutely dominant this year, and a big part of that has been Reilly Morgan. Morgan is a senior captain on the team, and has done an outstanding job of guiding and mentoring the pair of freshmen attackmen all while putting away 15 goals. So far this year, the trio has combined for a total of 57 goals. To put that into perspective, Ursinus scored 43 goals in total last season, meaning Lynch, Leonzi, and Morgan have already beaten the team’s total goals in 2021 by 14 goals. The trio has been a sight to see this season, and their strong relationship has only boosted their play.
“On and off the field, I think Reilly, Grace, and I have an amazing friendship that transfers over to the field,” stated Leonzi. “It creates great opportunities for all of us, and it’s an awesome feeling knowing they have my back.”
On top of some shining offensive stars, the Bears have also seen consistent play out of their star goalie Alexa Machado ‘23. The keeper is leading the conference with 86 saves, and she has been a force to be reckoned with between the pipes. So far this year, Ursinus has only let in double digits three times, an impressive feat in the high scoring game of lacrosse. It’s no secret why Ursinus is seeing defensive success, as the squad is anchored by defenders Becca Lewis ‘22, Alice Nathanson ‘22, and Zoey Nikoloau ‘23. The three have done an amazing job of minimizing opposing offenses, and they serve as matchup nightmares for every team on their schedule.
Heading into conference play, the Women’s lacrosse team is hungrier than ever to prove that they are a force to be reckoned with. This team is driven by hard work, dedication, and perseverance, and they are not satisfied with their results thus far.
“Our conference games are just getting started, so we have to continue to work hard. It will be tough but we’re not going to let up” exclaimed Lynch. “We are going to prove that we cannot be underestimated.”
With conference play coming up, the Bears will face their toughest test yet. However, they are more than equipped to make their mark. They’ve come a long way since being voted second to last, but the Women’s lacrosse team has proven one thing this season: never count out the Bears.