“Raising the Bar”: Ursinus College Women’s Lacrosse Team

Katie Cressman kacressman@ursinus.edu

The Ursinus College Women’s lacrosse team has completed around half of its season. Currently at 6-6, the team has produced multiple upsets and big-time wins. As they fight to keep playing, it’s worth asking who, or what, is the driving force behind this successful season for the Lady Bears?

Led by head coach Rachel Howard-Franklin and assistant coaches Fran Knebels and Izzy O’Connell, and containing about 24 players, 9 of whom are first-year students, the Lady Bears have depth. These first-year players include at least four consistent starters. Ashley Noto, a starting offensive first-year player for the Bears, currently sits at second on the team in points with 32 and leads in assists with 19. Megan Vizian, a first-year midfielder has 36 draw controls and 18 points including adding double digit goals of her own. The Lady Bears also have a returning Centennial Conference second team member in Maeve Leonzi, a sophomore offensive player with 21 goals and 27 points. The Lady Bears also have a heavy leadership presence, returning two captains in senior mid-fielder Emma Wood and second-year senior offensive player Reilly Morgan, as well as two more four year defensive starters in Julie Cherneskie and goalkeeper Alexa Machado.

I sat down with senior goalkeeper Machado for an inside scoop on the team. “Our team’s motto this year is to ‘raise the bar.’ The whole team this year has bought into raising the bar. I think that’s what has brought us so much success compared to other years. Our team is resilient, and we chose to never give up; that’s what has brought us success this far and it will continue to for the rest of the season,” said Machado.

With ‘raising the bar’ as their motto, the Lady Bears have been able to tackle multiple opponents this season whom they struggled against in past years. For example, in a heated Centennial Conference matchup between the McDaniel Green Terrors and your Ursinus College bears, the Lady Bears prevailed with a dominating score of 21-9. The offense was balanced and effective, and the defense held strong. When transfer Junior Mia Gifford found the back of the net with just seconds left on the clock, the Bears celebrated big. Last year at this same matchup, the Bears lost to the Green Terror 17-20 – proving that they are living their motto and continuously raising the bar this season.

So, what do the upper-class students think of their first-year teammates? Well according to Machado, they think they make a massive impact on this consistently improving Ursinus College team. “Our freshmen this season have really set the bar for our play. They came in ready to work and willing to learn from the very beginning. They have grown into their roles and continue to grow throughout the season. The freshmen have set the foundation for their remaining three years,” Machado explains.

The Ursinus College women’s lacrosse team is nothing short of exceptional and continues to pursue a play-off spot and a winning record. Their next matchup is on Patterson Field this Saturday against Bryn Mawr when they will celebrate their seniors in a senior day celebration. Head out to support your lady bears at 1 pm on Patterson Field and follow the Ursinus College Athletics social media to keep up to date with all Spring sports competitions!