Now it’s just icing on the cake, a cherry on top, the tip of the iceberg. Whatever you want to call it, returning champions of Keene State College’s Men’s lacrosse team were ranked first in the Little East Conference (LEC) poll recently, but they are not alone. On Feb. 8, the women’s lacrosse team was also ranked high up in the coaches’ preseason poll at third place in their conference.
Senior captain Hunter Arnold spoke about his team’s reaction to the poll.
“It was a good feeling knowing we were ranked first. We expect to be first in the LEC every year. It’s a goal to win it and not necessarily lose any of our LEC games. We feel like we are the strongest in the conference, and we want to keep it that way.”
Junior Steven Hamel also commented on the poll and said, “It was good and kind of expected because we’ve won it for the past four years and now it’s just a challenge to us.”
As for the girls, senior captain Tori Weinstock said she was both excited and humbled to hear the coaches’ preseason thoughts. “I think it was good for us hearing we were ranked third in the preseason poll, coming off kind of a really tough season last year, but it doesn’t put too much pressure on us especially having like a dozen newcomers this year. I think it’s a good place for us to know that we want to move up but we still have a lot of work to do. We are really excited to prove ourselves in the conference this year,” Weinstock said.
Both teams working hard in the preseason, are making a point to achieve titles by the end of the season.
For the women, junior Samantha Sullivan said, “Since the preseason started we have been working hard at practices, lifting and conditioning, yoga and swim workouts to make sure we are best prepared to come out on top of the LEC.”
Sullivan continued by saying their team “lost in LEC semi final last year,” and that the returning players have been emphasizing what it feels like to not get rewarded for a season of hard work. “We are all helping each other improve and stay motivated and I really think the team support and unity is what’s going to take us to the championship game,” Sullivan said.
The men’s preseason is similar to the women as far as practice and training goes. “Just doing the little things everyday. In and out of practice, on the field and off the field. Getting there on time, working hard while we are on the field with coaches and then off the field, it’s hitting the weight room to get better everyday,” Arnold said.
Both teams’ first games are coming fast. The men’s first season game is on Saturday, Feb. 24, and the women’s lands on Wednesday, Feb. 28.
“Big thoughts on our first game against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute [RPI]. It’s the one team last year that beat us that we should have absolutely roasted,” Hamel said.
Sullivan said the women’s team is also excited for their first game and they “always look forward to playing the Massachusetts Institute of Technology [MIT] because they are a very talented team.” Sullivan continued, “It is a good matchup for us. Losing to them the past two years has motivated us in practice, and I think everyone feels prepared for the game to show how much we have improved from our fall ball season.”
With the preseason rankings, as well as the past seasons under their belt, the upperclassmen players discussed their expectations for this season and the pressure that comes with it.
“We have high expectations. There is a lot of new guys on the team this year. A lot of new faces that’ll be on field. We feel like every single one of them can step up big time and play big roles on our team this year.” He also added, “This is my fourth year– three titles since I’ve been on the team so far. If we win it this year it will be five in a row for the program,” Arnold said.
Hamel added, “I hope for the team that we take everything one step at a time and get to the LEC’s and win. After LEC’s there is NCAA’s. Our LEC championship is a bid into the NCAA’s and then from there we play for the national championship, we work our way towards it.”
Sullivan spoke for the women’s team and said, “There is definitely a lot of pressure to perform since we weren’t LEC champs last year. The juniors and seniors have both experienced coming out champs and falling short, and we have made it very clear that one feels much more gratifying than the other. We are all expected to work hard on and off the field with the common goal of winning, and our senior captains are the driving force.”
Stepping into their roles, senior captains Arnold and Weinstock talked about the current positions they hold, and goals they have for the 2018 season.
“I’ve been playing since my freshman year so I have to step up with all these new guys, kind of switching into a mentor and help coach…because some of them hadn’t really had all the experience that they need to play at the next level. It’s good to help them and tell them the little things that they might not see on their own,” Arnold said. Weinstock, one of four senior captains on the women’s team, said, “Now being a senior and a captain with the three other seniors, I think it’s a new role with having the younger girls looking up to me and it’s awesome to have other people with the same vision as me. We are all on board.” As far as team goals go this year, Weinstock said, “With our senior class leadership and having so many younger people, we really want to change the program and make it more consistent and we hope to leave the program a lot better than when we came in.”
Julia Eichman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org