Women’s lacrosse increases roster and expectations


Graduate midfielder Hannah Beck (Courtesy: Jessie Koffman)

By Leo Kagan, Assistant Sports Editor

In 2022, the Emerson women’s lacrosse roster had just 15 players. 

For somebody unfamiliar with the sport, 15 may sound like a lot—the Emerson women’s basketball squad dressed just 12 players this season—but compared to the rest of the competition in their conference, it was positively tiny. 

Consider the NEWMAC No. 5-ranked Wheaton Thunder, whose 29-person roster nearly doubled that of the Lions, or the No. 2 ranked Springfield Pioneers, whose lineup dwarfed Emerson’s roster with a conference-high 34 players. 

Put in perspective, the Lions’ 9-4 record entering the last week of April 2022 is even more impressive. The team—which had already won more games than it had since the 2015–16 season—had the opportunity to earn a postseason berth if it beat just one of its three incoming NEWMAC opponents: The Pioneers, Thunder, or Babson Beavers

Unfortunately, they lost to all three. 

This year, however, the Lions aim to achieve what they couldn’t last spring. 

“If we do everything we’re supposed to do, we can make playoffs,” Head Coach Jessie Koffman said in an interview with the Beacon. 

Despite missing the postseason in 2022, the team had a successful spring, which senior captain and defender Suha Cho said she attributes to the Lions’ grit and intensity. 

“The heart and passion for winning was very evident in last year’s group,” she said. “Having that fire and determination is how we got through a lot of our games.”

This season, the competitive nature of the team is still present, and through recruiting and a pair of transfers, the once-tiny roster has grown to an 18-person headcount.  

The Lions’ coaching staff targeted two specific areas in recruitment: the midfield attack and goaltending. The team added first-year Ava Selby and transfer sophomore Grace Danahey in the midfield, and first-years Ellie Spotts and Lindsey Wettstein in the goalkeeper’s area. 

Koffman said she sees the net as a reinforced positional strength after welcoming the new goalkeepers.

“[Senior captain] Nina Kholsa has been our only goalie the past couple seasons, and she’s done an amazing job,” Koffman said. “But it’s been helpful to have not just one but three goalies on the team this year. It brings that addition of healthy competition, so if they’re not working hard enough, they know that playing time is on the line.”

Nevertheless, Cho said that, even with the new additions, the still relatively small roster has maintained its close-knit vibe. 

“We’ve been able to really get to know one another outside of lacrosse, not just as teammates but as close friends,” she said. “We count each other as family.”

The intimate nature of the Lions’ smaller roster lends itself to an area in which the team aims to improve: communication. 

“We have a lot of new players and there were a good amount of seniors that graduated,” Cho said. “New players come with new skills, so knowing who is stronger at what aspect is something important we are learning during our practices, because that’s what’s going to be helpful in the game.”

Koffman said she appreciates the value in players leaning on each other’s unique skills, believing it’s vital to team success. However, she also said that communication is important in correctly executing more technical, systems-based play. The Lions’ zone defense, for example, requires players to defend a specific area of the field and pass off attacking players to their teammates when they leave their defending zone. 

Now that the preseason has wound to its close, the Lions are preparing for the regular season, which begins Thursday at Wentworth. Ramping up for the first game, Cho said, should jumpstart the team for what she believes will be a strong season. 

“We have a lot of new people on the team and they haven’t experienced how much adrenaline comes with a college sport,” she said. “It’ll be a great experience for the new players to experience that adrenaline and that’ll definitely help us push to where we need to be.”

Koffman said preparation would be key for the team as they await their first game. 

“One of the biggest things is coming out in the first quarter ready to go, instead of having a slow start and digging ourselves out,” she said. “We talk about having a routine, whether it be getting down to the field a half-an-hour early and having the same snacks or listening to the same pump-up songs, having a routine is super helpful.”

When it’s tip-off time Thursday, Koffman said her team will begin on their journey to prove they’re better than anybody believes they are. 

“Everyone’s really determined to show the NEWMAC that we’re not just some team in the lower end of the rankings,” she said. “We have a lot of talent and everyone is determined to show what we can do.”