After a postponement last weekend, the Mules look to get back on the field
By Jack Carroll
After almost a year of being off campus for most members of the team, the Muhlenberg women’s lacrosse program had to get right to work when arriving back in Allentown on Feb. 8. Despite the normalcy of teams being able to reunite and in-person classes occurring at Muhlenberg, the typical in-season practice schedule was something new for everyone.
In hopes to return to action, the team follows the strict COVID-19 protocols. This included in phase one, when the Mules could only lift weights, condition and participate in footwork drills at the Life Sport Center. In phase two, the team was able to practice, but could only use limited equipment and have limited contact with one another.
Attacker Ariella Lerner ‘22 said, “When we started practicing and weren’t able to do any contact, we would just condition which got us into really good shape. Luckily, we got to slowly ease our way into full contact which has been going really well. Practice has obviously felt different from other years, but we’re just grateful that we are able to play.”
As the women completed these phases and practiced in full contact, while wearing masks, they did everything they could do to stay game ready, and motivated for upcoming opponents, all while the possibility of games being scheduled was up in the air. This mentality is credited to Kristen Stuckel, who’s been the head coach for the women’s lacrosse team since 2000.
Stuckel, along with the assistant coaches have constantly reminded their team not to give up hope on a season. Stuckel’s main message to her team has been to continue to work hard because when they have the opportunity to get out on the field, she wants to show the best version of Muhlenberg women’s lacrosse.
Captain and defender, Karly Disanto ‘21, mentioned that while practices have been serious they have been kept fun by the coaches throwing in multiple inter-squad scrimmages along with many competition drills that help mimic the competition they would have in games.
On Mar. 5, the President’s Council of the Centennial Conference announced they would be endorsing a spring sports plan that would result in return to play competitions for 10 spring sports.
Shortly after, on Mar. 11, the conference officially released a schedule which contained six contests for the Muhlenberg women’s lacrosse team. Three being away and three being home, at Scotty Wood Stadium.
Although they have a condensed schedule, the Mules are ecstatic, especially after completing only one contest in 2020.
The Mules are looking to show the conference a new and younger team after losing 9 key players due to graduation. They have averaged at least 10 wins per season for the last six years, and are ready to prove people wrong after being picked to finish as the 5-seed in the Centennial Conference preseason polls.
The squad will be counting a lot on their experienced and newly-named captains, which include Disanto, Lauren Sammarro ‘21, Taliah Carson ‘21 and Madeline Dill ‘22, in the coming month of competitions
As the team was preparing for their home opener against the Ursinus Bears on Mar. 20, but the game was suddenly postponed as Ursinus detected a spike COVID-19 cases. This was yet another challenge the Mules had no control over.
“We were really disappointed when we heard the Ursinus game was getting postponed. We are still going to continue to stay positive and work as hard as we have been all season,” Lerner said.
Instead of just having practice on the day they were supposed to play Ursinus, Lerner appreciated how the team held an intersquad scrimmage where they wore their uniforms and did all of their pregame rituals, to simulate a gameday feel.
As the Mules continue to work hard, prepare, and remain healthy, hope is in the air that there will finally be a long awaited opening face-off on Mar. 27 at Gettysburg College.