As the women’s lacrosse team gears up for the 2022 season, captain Kelsey Shea ’22 feels like a “little girl” picking up her lacrosse stick for the first time.
“I truly love lacrosse so much,” Shea said. “Having that adrenaline rush and joy I get is what I’m looking forward to.”
The Bears last played March 11, 2020 in a win against Virginia Tech before the Ivy League canceled the rest of the 2020 season and the entirety of the 2021 season as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, 19 of the 40 players on the team have yet to play a collegiate game.
“It’s definitely been different walking onto the field for the first time this year having never played with half of the team,” Shea said. “But it’s also just been so fun because we’ve been able to see all this incredible talent and the future of the program.”
While Shea is looking forward to returning to competitive play at Brown, goalkeeper Margaret Woodberry ’24 said she is “super excited for lacrosse season to finally start” after losing her high school senior season in addition to last season.
“I’m itching to get back out on the field and compete in the sport that I love,” Woodberry said. “I’m excited to see what our team accomplishes as we push to bring the Ivy League title home to College Hill.”
Head Coach Keely McDonald ’00 will lead the Bears for her 18th straight year. Last season’s cancellation gave her a unique opportunity for reflection, she said.
“Having not played in two years, it’s time to figure out what’s important and any adjustments you want to make,” McDonald said. “I’m eager to see the adjustments that we’ve made as players and as a coaching staff put into play.”
Still, McDonald said the coaching staff is mostly “focused on what we need to do to get better from the day before,” rather than worrying about the team’s missed season.
“We’re just focused on our standards and what we need to do every day,” McDonald said, adding that the team hopes that when they play, “the wins will take care of themselves.”
Brown will host Bryant University in its season opener Saturday. In the Bears’ 15-game schedule, the team faces seven other non-conference opponents, including 2021 national champion Boston College Feb. 26. Brown will head to New York to play Columbia March 5, the first of seven Ivy League matches and Bruno’s first since a March 7, 2020 loss at Yale.
The Bears will also visit College of the Holy Cross, Yale, Penn, University of Massachusetts, Lowell and Harvard. In addition to Bryant and Boston College, Brown will host Hofstra University, Central Connecticut State University, Stony Brook University, Dartmouth, Princeton and Cornell. On April 18, the Bears will face San Diego State University at a neutral site. If the Bears finish top four in the Ivy League, they will qualify for the Ivy League Tournament scheduled for the weekend of May 6.
This season also marks the first since the completion of the Center for Lacrosse and Soccer, a new facility built adjacent to Stevenson-Pincince Field. McDonald said that being in the new facility “makes the training and the learning accelerate.”
“We’re all in one building (so) we can watch film (and) we can learn together,” McDonald said. “That’s been awesome so far from a learning standpoint.”
With the season’s start just days away, Shea said she is looking forward to “enjoying the ride” and “watch(ing) half of our team experience it for the first time.” Shea acknowledged that others may think the group’s lack of experience will negatively affect the team, but Shea thinks “it’s an edge we have.”
“We all have a fire inside of us since we missed out last year,” Shea said. “We’re harnessing it the right way, and we can actually use it to our advantage. Our culture is super strong, and we’re all on the same page of what we want to accomplish.”