For most GW sports teams, the goodbyes will be quick on graduation day.
Women’s basketball has just two departing seniors, baseball has four out of a 34-man team and there are no seniors on the men’s squash team. But on the lacrosse team, there’s a line of eight seniors who will be departing after Commencement.
So when attackers Rachel Mia, Jamie Bumgardner, Allie Rash and Casey Dell’Isola, defenders Jacqui Stevens, Jenn Seitz and Rachel Quinn and goalie Mackenzie Jones flip their tassels on graduation day, they’ll leave behind a team in transition with big statistical shoes to fill.
Stevens will get to hang back for another year due to a redshirt, but will be without her gang of classmates as this year’s seniors leave even more behind following two consecutive years of four-player senior classes.
The eight seniors were responsible for half the starts made over the course of the season. They scored 40 percent of the goals and made 43 percent of the assists. Jones played 90 percent of the minutes in goal, so next year’s team will be very different on both ends of the field.
“I think that they were a very unique class in terms of all eight significantly contributing to our success,” head coach Tracy Coyne said. “I think because there were so many seniors, the underclassmen could identify with one particular person who might be their leader.”
They’re moving on to jobs, mostly — Coyne said that most of the seniors had positions lined up for the next year or were close to figuring it out — and some have big plans to celebrate graduation. Bumgardner is going to Europe for two months, flying into Paris and then visiting 13 different countries. She’s deciding between graduate programs in nursing and conservation biology for when she gets back.
Seniors like Quinn helped mentor underclassmen defenders, but Mia and Bumgardner made up the bulk of the scoring. The two combined for 63 goals and 32 assists — Mia scored 47 goals of her own and Bumgardner was the facilitator with 30 of the assists.
“We love working together. We love competing together. I think that’s what brought us through these four years. We’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs but we have the same love of the game,” Bumgardner said. “It’s hard to leave that behind.”
Mia and Bumgardner also had a flair for the dramatic with game-winning goals and assists like Bumgardner had against Duquesne in overtime on April 17, and their prolific and timely performances as a duo will be the hardest thing to replace.
“It’s going to be hard. I don’t know if we know 100 percent who’s going to emerge. We have an idea – the junior class is pretty solid, sophomores and juniors in the rising group are pretty solid — but I think we’re going to miss what they brought,” Coyne said.
The likely helpers are sophomores Michaela Lynch and Bailey Forcier and junior Olivia Boudreau, who combined for 54 goals and 34 assists this season.
But besides overcoming the deficit in offensive production, next year’s team will benefit from a year under Coyne.
The class came into GW as rookies for the 2012 season and made it to the Atlantic 10 tournament that year and the following year as sophomores. But after missing the playoffs their junior year and getting a new coach, senior year became a year of transition.
“I think what they were able to do was help me understand the traditions and rivalries of the league,” Coyne said. “I think what defined them was their willingness and openness to accept the coaching change and the change in philosophy and kind of embrace the new direction that they were going. I think it says a lot about who they are as people because change is hard and they bought in.”
Bumgardner and Mia said that the coaching change actually helped get them re-energized about lacrosse and gave them a new reason to be excited about practice. But they still have fond memories from all four years at GW, including their chances to play in the A-10 tournament as freshmen and sophomores.
They named beating Duquesne in overtime this year and big wins over Richmond and UMass — the two competitors in this year’s championship game — when they were sophomores as the other top moments of their tenures at GW.
And off the field, they’ll remember a big group of equally large personalities.
“We butt heads a lot but we always have each other’s backs, and at the end of the day, when I need to go to someone, I always go to someone in our class,” Mia said. “We’re always so close and it’s awesome.”