In its inaugural season of competition the Stetson lacrosse team enjoyed a number of successes on and off the field in 2013. The Hatters won their first game ever in a 19-7 home victory over Kennesaw State on Apr. 14, they went 2-2 in Atlantic Sun Conference play, and the program reached the conference semifinals in its first year of existence.
With 16 letter-winners returning, 11 of 12 starters back from a year ago, and a crop of 11 newcomers, the 2014 version of the Stetson lacrosse team is prepared to take big strides in the development of the program.
“The experience of that first year for the coaching staff helped us work out many kinks with logistics, the processes in place here at Stetson, and to get a feel for what works and what doesn't work for our program,” second-year head coach Nicole Moore said. “This year we have more insight to help us prepare our student-athletes for success.
“Every year holds its unique set of challenges, and that is what can make each individual year special and memorable with the right mindset,” Moore went on to say. “We are building the mindset of our team to see challenges as opportunities for growth and achievement of excellence.”
The 2013 season provided many challenges for the first-year program that started the year with 13 straight losses, but the Hatters excelled during A-Sun play, winning their final two games to earn the third seed in the conference tournament.
A number of Stetson’s student-athletes earned individual accolades for their efforts as well. Five returning sophomores – Maylis Broderick, Caili Guilday, Danielle Horgan, Paige Levesque, and Mary Kate O’Sullivan – were named to the A-Sun All-Freshman Team, Horgan and O’Sullivan earned All-Conference Second Team honors, and an additional sophomore was recently named to the Preseason All-Conference Team in Amanda Parker.
“Our returners were all part of building the foundation that we are continuing to build,” Moore said. “We are learning every day, and that is something special. As a coaching staff, we are grateful for those team players who come to practice or to train, day in and day out, ready to learn, ready to compete, and ready to be great teammates. It makes this experience the worthwhile experience that coaching can be.”
More important than successes on the field, though, for Moore, is what her student-athletes get out of the experience playing lacrosse and being a part of this program.
“I want this team to realize that this experience is more than just winning,” she said. “Yes, we go hard every day to prepare to win, and we have that inner burning, desire, and intensity to win, but what is even more precious than a win is seeing the potential, the growth, the goodness, and the ability in themselves and in their teammates. I want for them to put themselves on the line for their teammates, to play for each other, to work for each other, to support one another, and at the end of the day, to know that the connections they have made with their teammates and coaches are special and will empower them in their future endeavors. When this is achieved, winning comes much more easily.”
Stetson, which plays 12 of its 17 regular season games at home, begins its 2014 journey on Friday at 7:00 p.m., taking on the first of two [also Florida] nationally ranked opponents this year. The Hatters will play Syracuse at ESPN Wide World of Sports as a part of U.S. Lacrosse’s Champion Challenge.
“It is always an amazing opportunity to play the highest caliber teams in our sport,” Moore concluded. “Syracuse and Florida exhibit the characteristics that we are building towards. To open up against Syracuse down at ESPN Wide World of Sports is an exclusive one, and the experience is special for our student athletes. Every opportunity that we step out on the field together, as one, is an opportunity to get better, grow, go after our goals, and in the end, make some amazing memories.”