Some can say they played a varsity, collegiate sport. Fewer can say they won two consecutive conference titles, and in one of the most competitive conferences, both academically and athletically. Even fewer can proudly boast that they and their teammates made it to the Final Four two years in a row, and only a handful of people can say that their team made it to the National Championship during both their freshman and sophomore year. BUT… Few understand what it feels like to lose two National Championships.
I’ve always loved to win. I’ve been a competitive spirit since I was young enough to kick a soccer ball, or race my siblings to the dinner table. So, of course, I sought out the Trinity Women’s Lacrosse team as soon as the recruiting process commenced.
The year of my recruitment the 2011-2012 finally did it. Behind their seasoned coach, Kate Livesay, the Bantams captured their first National Championship–they got a taste of what it feels like to be the best in the nation, and they wouldn’t ever let that go. The following year they made their way back to the ‘ship and I anxiously watched behind my computer screen–my soon to be teammates they finally were. A painful 12-5 loss ended their streak, their high, and their season.
I, however, was thrilled to know the possibility was still there. They made it, and so could I. Our 2013-2014 season was as close to perfect as it could be. Despite the miscellaneous loss to Bates and the nail-biter against Salisbury–we had the same potential I had seen the year before and the year before that. But, give it a few weeks and we were back losing to Salisbury in the National Championship game, sent home empty handed on an 8-hour bus ride from hell. I was devastated but it felt different than it did the next time around.
The next time around I wasn’t just on the team, I was part of the team. Finally contributing more and more, I found my niche as a draw controller. My teammates became more and more like my sisters, and I couldn’t have had a better feeling about our camaraderie and our chemistry, on and off the field. This was the year–no one said it, but we could all feel it.
The season began with a strange loss against Colby, but we were new–plenty of freshman, new starters, and a new, fearless, but young coaching staff. It didn’t take long though for our streak to begin. We weren’t good, we were unstoppable. Sure, some games were close, but we were resilient, unwilling to surrender our position in the rankings.
It was no surprise when our names were announced during that NCAA selection show–we clinched the conference for the program’s 5th consecutive title. But, those days were behind us. It was playoff time, and any room for mistakes, vanished. Before a blink of an eye we were back. The National Championship game–but this time at an enormous stadium; we felt like celebrities. Free gear, bright lights, and the greatest fan-base you’d ever imagine. One more game with five of my best friends, our seniors. One more game to make it all worth it. To assure us that that horrible, running-only, torrential practice was worth it. To validate that season’s phrase which decorated our t-shirts was possible (“Finish the Fights”). To remind us that hard work does pay off.
“The Trinity College Bantams finished as the NCAA Division III Women’s Lacrosse Runner-Up for the third year in a row, suffering a 17-6 setback against the SUNY Cortland Red Dragons this afternoon at PPL Park.”
How did we lose? I replay those moments over and over in my head. The draw was my thing, my niche, and we lost almost primarily based on the fact that we lose almost every draw control. Who’s fault was this? Why did this happen? We were the best. I was sure of it. I’ll never get those moments back, and I’ll have to settle for the two silver NCAA trophies that my Mother now embarrassingly displays in our kitchen.
I’m not sure I have the answers to my questions, or if any of us do, but there are a few things that I have taken away from the losses. First, hard work does pay off. We put in the time and effort to form a winning team, and we did, we won, over and over again. Secondly, I’ve learned to try and think bigger than just myself. We were a team those two years, one single unit. Molly’s losses were my losses, my turnovers were the team’s turnovers, and any shots let in were the product of poor defense. This notion leaves the biggest imprint on me today. My best work comes when I take risks, when I push myself, but I only seem to take those risk and push myself when I feel safe or okay to do so. My teammates did exactly that, and I’m becoming more and more able to do it on my own, on and off the field.
While those two seasons have passed with only silver to prove it, I am eager, excited, and grateful that I have two more to spend it pushing myself, and learning about myself alongside the greatest people I know.