By Sara Quimby, Staff Writer

UMF Women's Lacrosse Coach Molly Wilkie (photo courtesy of UMF Athletics)

UMF Women’s Lacrosse Coach Molly Wilkie (photo courtesy of UMF Athletics)

This year’s UMF women’s lacrosse team is about to kick off a new season with many returning and new players and are looking forward to success.

Last year’s team had a large freshman class, and as the season progressed the team as a whole saw improvement. “There were a lot of newcomers who contributed a lot.” Coach Molly Wilkie said. “Last season set up a good foundation for this year.”

The team has three returning upperclassmen, a large sophomore class and eight new players.

Wilkie pointed out that the team is still young, with only one returning senior, but she does not feel that it’s a bad thing. “I expect us to really be able to compete,” said Wilkie. “I’m really excited, the group of student-athletes we have is committed and enthusiastic. I’m really looking forward to working with them and seeing how they develop throughout the season.”

Top returners for the beavers include Juniors Ayla Allen and Mara Balboni, and Senior Maddi Kadnar. Wilkie emphasized the sophomore class’ role on the team as well. “They are a really strong class,” Wilkie said. “They’ve really helped shape our identity as a team.”

The team’s eight new additions consist of six freshmen, a sophomore and fifth-year, Sarah Pokorny. “It’s a lot to take on but everyone is really helpful and supportive,” Pokorny said. “It’s a really positive team.” While nervous, she is also excited to try a new sport and be part of the team.

“Everyone is working really hard,” said Pokorny. “I think we’ll work together as a team really well.”

Assistant coaches Beth Lebel and Hannah Goodenow, both past players themselves, join Wilkie on the coaching staff this season. While Lebel has coached soccer this will be her first time coaching lacrosse. “I’m super pumped,” Lebel said. “I think I could coach anything under Molly’s guidance, and Hannah knows the game so well.”

Beginning the season during the winter means the team meets for early practices in the FRC, and they’ve already had their first. “They’re ready to go,” said Lebel. “They may not like the six a.m. practices but they showed up this morning and they were stoked.”

Pokorny is hopeful for some outdoor practices, as well as home games. “I would love to be outside,” Pokorny said.

Due to weather last spring, the team was only able to practice outside twice over the course of the season. As for home games, they were only able to play one, which turned out to be a playoff game towards the end of April. “Molly outlined early on that there are no excuses,” said Lebel. “We can’t do anything about Mother Nature.”

One change for the team will be their in-conference competition, as two new teams have joined the North Atlantic Conference. “It’s really great for the sport,” Wilkie said. “I expect us to really be able to compete.”

The team will play its first game on March 14th at Salem State. The first home game is scheduled to be held on March 25th. “We’ve got some really good talent and some really good commitment,” said Lebel. “We’re looking to get that winning conference record.”