April 4, 2013
The halfway point of a season provides an opportune time for assessment. It allows for enough games to garner an idea of the team’s identity and enough time to fix mistakes and alter strategies before the high stakes of postseason play. For the Hamilton women’s lacrosse team, consistency is the operative word. Despite a 3-0 start and a positive scoring margin (+10 overall), a recent skid leaves the Conts hungry for wins in their upcoming games after an average 4-4 (2-3 NESCAC) record to start the season.
Coach Kloidt is optimistic about her team’s chances but realizes the Conts cannot continue a roller coaster season to accomplish their lofty preseason goals. “I’m pleased with our leadership, the kids are working hard in practice and preparing well,” said Kloidt. “We have a lot of games every week and not a lot of time in between. Their focus in practice has been really helpful, but I think it needs to translate into game situations where we need to do a better job of attacking each opponent with more consistency, more energy, playing each game as if it’s for the championship.”
Indeed, three of Hamilton’s four losses this year have been by four goals or less, a telltale sign of the need to maintain composure throughout the game. The team’s first two wins were by four goals over Tufts and three over Wesleyan. While their past record suggests that their recent losses are an anomaly, the team must demonstrate the composure and mental toughness necessary to work its way through adversity. The Conts were tied with Colby and SUNY Oneonta before faltering in the final 10 minutes. They lost to Bowdoin 10-9 in an overtime nail-biter. The team’s lone win in this stretch was a breezy 14-3 win over Buffalo State played in Clermont, Florida.
Kloidt believes the team needs to breakthrough with a critical win, and positive momentum will take care of the rest. “I think we have to believe we can play with the better teams in the NESCAC. We need to learn how to value possessions and finish games out. That’s going to win games. We’ve run into a couple of hiccups, [but] we’re learning what it takes.”
The team’s talent is evident and Kloidt was especially pleased with the performance of her relatively young starting midfield. Hannah Withiam ’16, Ashleigh Stephan ’15, and Lauren Brady ’14 solidify the team’s transition game while maintaining reliable point production, aiding the team’s veteran attack in producing offense. Additionally, Kloidt praised senior Mariah Monks, who has made the difficult transition to defense after three years playing attack on the team.
"We just wanted some more veteran leadership defensively, and she’s just ferocious and she’s really stepped up for the team,” Kloidt noted. “Here’s a person who could have disagreed, with this being such a radical change, but we thought the team could benefit from her competitiveness and her clearing ability. She’s made a huge sacrifice for the team in that regard.”
Monks encapsulates the grit and sacrifice needed to reverse the recent losing and secure the Conts place in the NESCAC playoffs this spring. Coach Kloidt’s preseason programs focused on mental toughness and leadership. They were intended to guide the team through an unrelenting schedule filled with challenging competition. The Conts faced a tough game against an undefeated and third ranked Middlebury team on Wednesday, falling 11-6 at Steuben Field. At mid-season, the Conts have time and talent to become serious NESCAC contenders, but still need to prove they possess the mental toughness of a championship team.