Lacrosse faltered in conference play after a strong start to the season, dropping six straight decisions to close out the year.
In their final game of the season at home, the Colonials (9-8, 2-7 A-10) lost to Davidson 15-10 Saturday afternoon. The team picked up just two conference wins in their last nine games of the season – nixing them from qualifying for the Atlantic 10 tournament for the fifth year in a row.
The Colonials entered A-10 play with a 7-1 record, but the team came up short even holding the program’s fifth winning season. The team’s nine wins overall is triple last season’s total and is the most victories in a single season since 2013, when they last qualified for the A-10 tournament.
“Every year, obviously our end goal is to make A-10s,” senior attack Camaryn Kerns said. “So it’s really hard having four years and not making it.”
The top six teams out of the 10 in the conference qualify for the tournament, but the Colonials tied with Duquesne for eighth place.
The team has historically had trouble finding ways to win in conference play, going three straight years with just two wins against A-10 teams.
“Once we got to A-10 play, I think we started facing teams that were high pressure,” senior attack Jocelyn Donohue said. “They played at a faster pace, so on attack we weren’t used to seeing them pressure us so much, so that’s definitely something we struggled with.”
Kerns and Donohue played strong in their final game as Colonials.
Kerns netted a personal-best four goals, recording her eighth hat trick of the season in the process.
Donohue also capped off her career with a hat trick in the 15-10 loss to Davidson, bringing her career-goal total to 108. She will close out her career tied for sixth-most goals in program history, matching 2013 graduate Nicole Lacey.
Donohue and Kerns were the top two leading scorers this season, notching 46 and 40 goals, respectively.
“We did so much better than we did last year,” Kerns said. “We played more as a team and as a unit.”
Head coach Tracy Coyne said after this season’s success, she is confident in the direction the program is headed and the growth she has seen in her players – despite missing out on the A-10 tournament.
“I’m really proud to establish a winning tradition here,” Coyne said. “Because when you’re fighting a losing mentality, it’s a big hurdle to overcome, so we’re proud of that accomplishment.”
This season, the Colonials saw marked improvements after finishing 3-13 last season – the worst record in program history. The team saw their overall win percentage improve to .529 this season and an increase in offensive output by the team.
The squad’s shooting percentage increased from .398 last year to .421 this season. They also tallied more than 100 more shot attempts than last year.
Coyne said the team’s four seniors – the first class to play under her for all four years – helped push the program’s growth this season.
“They had a tremendous amount of resolve and commitment and dedication. We had excellent communication,” Coyne said. “Through those conversations, we were able to continue to push forward so that they’re graduating as winners.”
With just four players graduating out of the program this year, lacrosse will return 22 of its players next season.
“I think that the freshmen and the sophomores have gained a ton of experience this year,” Coyne said. “They’ll kind of know what to expect, they’ll know how to lead, they’ll know how to handle some adversity.”
Sophomore midfielder Katie Quinn, sophomore defender Caroline Kiernan and freshman Ionna Mantzouratos joined Donohue and Kerns to round out the top five in scoring this season.
Mantzourato’s 23 goals on the season tie her for fifth in program history for freshman scoring, and it’s the first time since 2012 a freshman has notched 23 or more goals in a season.
Freshman goalkeeper Jenna Oler collected a conference-leading 207 saves during her rookie campaign and set a new program record for most saves in a game when she tallied 25 saves against Saint Josephs’s earlier this month.
Coyne said the successes of this season have laid a solid groundwork for future development of the program, instilling a winning mentality in her returners that will gear them up for next season.
“It’s learning how to win, learning how to manage your emotions in big games, learning how to fight through the ebbs and flows of the game,” Coyne said.