Women’s lacrosse poised to break into championship tournament

Pamela London

Whitman College may be a member of the NCAA Division III for its varsity programs, but there are a number of sports where Whitman gets to see how it stacks up against some of the top Division I schools, and one of them is lacrosse.

Abbye Neel ’13, McCauley Singer-Milnes ’14 and Kenna Little ’13 play on Ankeny. The young team is currently in fourth place in the NW League. Credit: Marie Von Hafften

Lacrosse is a technically a club sport, but participation is consistently high enough to field full teams for men and women. This season, practices began the week following the end of the holiday break, with games following soon after. The teams travel around the Pacific Northwest and compete against teams from several of the big state schools in the area, including the University of Washington, Boise State University and Oregon State University.

On the women’s side, the team is led by head captain and senior Diane Feuillet and co-captains seniors Hannah LaCroix and Sarah Evans and junior Krista Garrett. The team also has the assistance of Ben Wu, who works at the GAC as the Intercultural Center Program Advisor.

“[Ben] had no lacrosse experience before this year, but is learning fast and is a big help to us,” said Feuillet. “He helps with substitutions during games, and has a good ‘sports sense’ so he helps us improve.”

That assistance was extremely helpful right from the beginning of the season, as one of the traditions of the lacrosse team is to be player-run, and not have an official coach. Instead, the team relies on the leadership of the captains and the teamwork of all the players to keep things running smoothly, according to LaCroix. There are several new players on the team, including first-years and newcomers, which makes teamwork and camaraderie essential for success.

“We have a very young team, with some great experienced players as well as some promising players who are new to the sport,” said Feuillet. “Every year we get more experienced players than the year before, which is exciting for the sport, meaning it is growing in the Seattle and Portland areas.”

“We do have a pretty big roster this year, which reflects how fast the sport is growing on the west coast and how sweet the game is, but it also makes it difficult to get everyone the playing time they deserve in each game,” said LaCroix. “All of the new players  have  done such an impressive job of jumping into what is a pretty confusing and kind of intimidating game, and old players have done a wonderful job of helping to teach skills during practice and games.”

“This year, we have a nice division of offense and defense players, and a lot of really talented players on the team,” said Garrett. “Everyone is working really hard and playing well together, which definitely showed this past weekend [at Boise State University].”

After hosting six schools from Washington, Oregon and Idaho in a tournament the weekend of Feb. 26, Whitman traveled to BSU this past weekend to play the Broncos and the University of Oregon. After spring break, the team will play Seattle University and Oregon State University before hosting the Northwest Women’s Lacrosse League championship tournament on April 16 and 17.

Whitman has a great chance to make the championship tournament, as the team is currently sitting in fourth place in the Northwest Women’s Lacrosse League. The team looks to break into the top couple of teams in the conference and improve on its standing from last season, when it finished in fourth place.

“This year we came together very quickly, with only two weeks of practice before our first games, but I think it made us a better team even faster, and new players were able to pick up the game quickly,” said Feuillet. “Eight teams will attend [the championship tournament] and I am confident we will be one of them.”