BY EMMA PRESBERG – STAFF WRITER
Centre Women’s Lacrosse has had a record-breaking season, winning thirteen games in a row by a margin of ten or more. After finishing regular season play with a 16-3 win over the Hendrix warriors, the Colonels finished second in the conference with a 14-2 overall record and a 5-1 record.
The Colonels entered the season with a new head coach, Monica Scott, and a core group of seniors that have been key to the team’s overall success.
Senior midfielder Hannah Bellamah has soared this season, leading the Colonels with 61 goals and tallying up 25 assists as well, making her the player with the most points in the conference. Earlier in the season, Bellamah was named SAA Defensive Player of the Week and followed that up with an Offensive Player of the Week to round it out.
Being a returning senior, Bellamah has watched the team grow this year under a new coach. “Big changes like getting a new coach are never easy,” said Bellamah. “So, there was a necessary transition that all of the returning players had to make. That being said, we could not have gotten any luckier with Coach Scott. She is committed to us both on and off the field and is committed to continuing the culture that we value so much.”
This is the second head coaching job for incoming Monica Scott so the challenge of coaching was not something new to her. “My main priority coming in to this role at Centre,” Scott said, “was to assure the team that my methods as a coach are always driven with their best interest in mind, both individually and as a unit. I was fortunate to inherit a team with already high standards and a strong culture, so earning their trust in preserving their identity was essential in order to implement the new practices and expectations I brought to the program. The success we have experienced as a result has been exhilarating to say the least!”
Senior goalkeeper Natalie Marek has also had a phenomenal season, breaking the program’s career save record and being named SAA Defensive Player of the Week twice. Marek has 125 saves on the season and a goals-against average of 7.16. Marek was coming off a phenomenal season last year where she was named Defensive Player of Year and she has certainly kept last season’s momentum alive.
Bellamah and Marek say the team’s fitness has been a significant contributing factor to their success this season. “We do not have that big of a team,” said Bellamah. “So it is crucial to be in the physical condition necessary to play a full 60 minutes. Every one of us is capable of that and that’s thanks to Coach Carlson in the weight room and Coach Scott on the field.” Marek agreed saying that “A major contributor to our success has definitely been the conditioning. I think the reason we’ve been so good this year is because of Jeremy’s weight training—thank God for him—and coach’s running and agility exercises.”
Coach Monica Scott also talked about the importance of fitness in terms of the team’s success. “There were a lot of changes in the style and rigor in which we train in the offseason,” said Scott. She also credits the commitment and leadership by the senior class. “I can confidently say that the biggest contributor to our success this season comes from the leadership exhibited by all six seniors: Colleen Jackson, Lena Jewler, Devin Baker, Haden Gibbons, Bellamah, and Marek,” Scott continued. “Their commitment to their teammates and to the goals we set at the start of the season is seen every day in everything they do, on and off the field. No matter how daunting the newly implemented fitness testing and skills testing was, the senior class never fell victim to complaints or excuses which really set the tone for the underclassmen to aspire to.”
Along with their leadership, seniors Colleen Jackson and Haden Gibbons are also on fire for the Colonels, scoring 59 and 56 goals respectively. Both of these seniors hold top 5 places of top scorers in the conference as well as top 5 spots in total points and shots. Gibbons had several games where she earned new personal-bests, scoring seven goals in the conference game against the Rhodes Lynx.
Along with the six returning seniors, the Colonels also gained a six person freshman class who have already made their mark on the program. First year midfielder Mary Katherine Hardy has done a phenomenal job of filling a large gap left in the Colonels midfield by winning 52 draw controls and scoring 23 goals. First year forward Bella Tacogue has also put her name in the mix, scoring 24 goals and assisting 6. First year defender Clare Heaney has been phenomenal on defense, causing 22 turnovers and winning 30 ground balls.
“I am extremely proud of the accomplishments and accolades the team has earned this season,” said coach Scott, “but what I hope the community sees is their commitment to excellence off the field, too while we were in season this spring. It’s important for others to know that we became the first full athletic team to be Green Dot Bystander Intervention trained and played one of our home games in the name of Green Dot, indicating to our peers that we demand campus safety and will not tolerate less. The team fundraised for the Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center where 100% of the proceeds directly benefitted survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. CWL senior Devin Baker organized the first-ever Women’s March in Danville this spring and the team marched alongside her in support. Although I am ecstatic with our athletic achievements, it’s the impact this team has had on this community along the way that I hope Centre is most proud of.”
The Colonels begin conference tournament play on Sunday, April 22 as they compete in the SAA Semi-Final. The game will be held at South Turf and the support of the Centre community would be greatly appreciated and felt by the Centre Women’s Lacrosse team as they look to continue their success and begin tournament play.