Lady Knights bid farewell to seniors who helped start program

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Four years ago, seven women’s lacrosse freshmen first stepped on to the campus of Queens College, they did not know what to expect. Just as these athletes were apprehensive about classes, meeting new friends, and adjusting to life away from home, the QC women’s lacrosse coaching staff was anxious about their first season of varsity competition and the years ahead for the program.

“The women’s lacrosse team was added to the Knights athletics program for a couple of main reasons,” explains Brian DeMasters, the Assistant Athletic Director in 2009.

The conference needed a minimum number of teams in the sport in order for it to be compliant and for an automatic qualifying bid for Regionals, etc. Not enough athletic programs in the East Coast Conference offered women’s lacrosse, so QC decided to help the conference by adding a Lady Knights lacrosse program. Second, women’s lacrosse was classified in 2009, as a NCAA emerging sport. By adding a women’s lacrosse team, it helped the NCAA as a whole, said DeMasters.

The conclusion of the 2013 season marks the end of an interesting journey for the women’s lacrosse seniors. Taylor Sommers, Heather Rosen, Kayleen Kelty, Melissa Montreuil, Sara Boucher, Janine Guerra and Nicole Haa are the pioneers of the women’s lacrosse program at QC, having been the first class of student-athletes to compete as Lady Knights Lacrosse in the inaugural 2010 season.

The women’s lacrosse program has progressed rapidly in its four years of conference play, explains senior defender Taylor Sommers.

“We went from winning only two games our first year to ranking 15th in the nation in our third,” Sommers said.

Head coach Patricia Moran-Bonagura accredits the senior class for shaping the lacrosse program into what it is today.

“There was a learning curve that first season for both the players and the coaches,” said Bonagura. “No one knew what to expect and some of them had never even picked up a lacrosse stick until their first day of tryouts. Now, they are starters in every game and lead the team by the skills they have learned and the examples they have set off the field as well.”

The QC women’s lacrosse team is different than most squads in the conference due to their lack of depth. With only two substitutes, the Lady Knights are able to withstand fatigue by training hard at practice. The 60-minute competition is usually permeated with substitutions, but QC women’s lacrosse makes no changes unless necessary.

“Between timed miles, hundred yard sprints and full field runs at practice, each and every member of the team is able to give their all,” said senior captain Heather Rosen. “At the end of the day, all of us know that it will benefit us on the field.”

Finding recruits to replace these seven hardworking and driven seniors will be an arduous mission for Bonagura.

“Trying to replace this group of girls will be a tough task, but I am confident that the examples and knowledge they have left with the rest of the team will transpire to the incoming class- just as they did with the underclassmen,” said Bonagura. “A smooth transition and the continued success of the women’s lacrosse team are expected.”

Sophomore midfielder Shannon Doody recognizes the skills and leadership that will need to be replaced after this season.

“We need athletes that are able to get others the ball, girls who have speed, captains and players with experience,” Doody said. “We need people who are willing to adapt to collegiate lacrosse.”

As the 2013 season comes to a close, the Lady Knights team placed third in the conference, after Long Island University Post and Dowling, with a 4-3 record.

Senior captain Sarah Boucher has mixed feelings about the end of her collegiate lacrosse career.

“I had no intention of playing lacrosse upon entering QC,” said Boucher. “I’m glad I was able to help start the lacrosse program and finish it with great friends, memories and hard work.”

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