The Keene State Women’s’ lacrosse team rebounded from a painful loss with pride, not only for themselves, but to once again honor a fellow Owl.
“Once an owl, always an owl,” senior attack Kaitlin Nolan said when asked about former KSC women’s’ lacrosse player and alumni, Polly Grey. In July of 2001, Polly lost her younger brother Billy just before his 13th birthday to an aggressive brain tumor. In honor of him, Polly and her parents started the Team Billy organization to raise money for brain cancer research. Based out of their hometown of Saratoga Springs, NY, the Grey’s have been holding the Team Billy Ride and Walk for Research event since 2004 with all proceeds directed toward The National Brain Tumor Society.
Since Polly joined the lacrosse team in 2012, the KSC women have conducted a fundraiser of their own for Team Billy, including a walk, 50/50 raffle and Team Billy merchandise sales at their game. This season the Owls continued that tradition on Saturday 2, after their home game against Rhode Island College. Also after the game, Scores Sports Bar in Keene donated half of their income from the evening to the Team Billy organization.
Before taking the field against, the Owls fell to the Tufts University Jumbo’s by a score of 23-7 on Wednesday 30. After the difficult defeat, the KSC women’s’ lacrosse Head Coach, Katie Arsenault said going into the game that they knew it was going to be “the toughest game of the season”, and described the 2016 Tufts squad as one of the best teams she had seen Tufts put forward.
Arsenault added that she liked her players’ effort during the game and that her team’s mentality was “No matter what the score, or if you’re winning or losing, you have to always keep fighting back.”
Senior defender Laura Gendreau said the Tufts game was a learning experience.
“Even though those games are really hard,” Gendreau said, “when you look back and it’s done with and you’re’ not mad anymore, it gives us so much to work off of. We’ve learned so much from playing tough teams like that.”
With the Rhode Island College game being the first game of the Little East Conference schedule, and the Owls being defending LEC champions, Arsenault said her players “don’t feel like it’s given to them at all.”
Before the game Arsenault described what it would mean to the team, Keene State College and the Team Billy organization on the day of their Team Billy event.
“The win symbolizes the team effort,” Arsenault said referring to all of the hard work that the KSC women have put into their season, but also into the fundraising effort in collaboration with Team Billy.
When asked about the teams’ mood going into the RIC game, Nolan said, “Definitely confident. It’ll be a different game.”
Indeed it was as the Owls scored the first goal of the game in just 54 seconds when first year midfielder, Samantha Ballard netted an assist from sophomore midfielder Taylor Farland. The Owls then scored in a flurry with junior midfielder Jenna Bellano assisted Nolan for a goal at the 26:41 mark in the first half. After another attempt from the Anchorwomen to gain control with a goal, the Owls responded once again with junior attack, Taylor Graf dishing out two assists for goals from sophomore midfielder Tori Weinstock and senior midfielder Meghan Malloy. Graf finished with a game high six assists.
Weinstock then scored once ago on a free position chance. KSC continued their second half dominance with goals from first year midfielder Erica Stauffer, junior attack Kelly Chadnick, Ballard, Nolan, Graf and Bellano ending the half with a 11-1 lead.
In the second, the onslaught continue with Graf scoring her second goal of the game. After two goals from the Anchorwomen, Nolan would put in her third of the game before Bellano and Chadnick scored once again. With the lead at 15-3 for the Owls, Stauffer scored again followed by first year midfielder Emily Parker scoring her first collegiate goal. The Owls would seal the dominant and passionate 17-3 victory.
Before the big win, senior defender Laura Gendreau said the day prior to the game was the first time herself and fellow seniors had explained the story of the Grey family to the freshman.
“We actually went in depth with the freshman on what Team Billy is because we realized we hadn’t done that done that yet because they didn’t have a chance to play with Polly,” Gendreau said.
Gendreau added that the fundraiser helped bring the team together because it gave them “something to work for outside of lacrosse.”
With the win in the book and the Owls now having a record of 4-5, Arsenault she is not only excited for what the rest of this season holds, but for the KSC women continuing the Team Billy tradition.
“Now that she’s not actually a current player (Polly Grey) it’s going to be really nice to see the team themselves still hold that tradition.”
To learn more on how to get involved or donate to the Team Billy organization, visit www.teambilly.org.
Nick can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org