[media-credit id=2199 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]Despite making the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) tournament last season, the Quinnipiac’s women’s lacrosse team will not be returning this season after going 1-7 in conference play.
“I think that it definitely wasn’t what we expected,” senior defender Kiera Kelly said. “It wasn’t what we wanted, playoffs were definitely in our eyes the 17th and 18th game, but I think overall the program grew. We definitely are closing gaps that were there before, it’s just now overcoming that gap and stepping one step forward.”
The Bobcats went 5-11 on the season, which is good for their best record over the past five years. However, their 1-7 record in the MAAC prevented them from entering the tournament.
Last season was the first season that the Bobcats made it to the MAAC tournament in program history, and they came into the season hoping to follow it up by returning. They went into conference play having finished their non-conference schedule at 4-4.
The Bobcats finished the season on a six-game losing streak. However, three of those six losses were decided by two goals or less, including one decided in overtime. It’s the little things, as opposed to just record alone, that show the program’s improvement, according to head coach Tanya Kotowicz.
“We just had our final meeting, and we kind of discussed the tremendous improvements in just about every area,” Kotowicz said. “Eighty percent of our statistical categories have improved from one year to another… A lot of the intangibles are what we’re focusing on a lot.”
Some of the categories that the Bobcats improved on from the 2017 season (finished 4-13, 3-5 MAAC) were goals scored, assists, shots on goal percentage, ground balls, caused turnovers and clears.
They also gave up significantly less goals and had less goals against assisted on this season. Opponents scored 235 goals against the Bobcats, 109 of them with assists in the 2017 season, while this past year the Bobcats only gave up 173 goals with 64 assists.
Much of this defensive improvement can be attributed to the tandem of Kelly and sophomore defender Haley Everding. Both players started all 16 games for the Bobcats and combined for 92 of the team’s 311 ground balls (almost 30 percent) and 80 of the team’s 183 caused turnovers (almost 44 percent).
With Kelly set to move on to nursing school following the conclusion of the 2017-18 school year, it appears that Everding is going to be the one to step up and try and fill her shoes.
“She did a great job this year already, so it’s only going to be adding more to her game,” Kotowicz said. “She’s got the mindset to keep getting better, and I have no doubt she’ll fill some very big shoes, along with some of her teammates.”
An interesting storyline from this past season was the use of a “goalie by committee” system that cycled senior Kyle Larkin and sophomore Allie Kelsey. Larkin started in all 15 games she appeared in and finished the year with a 4-10 record, a 10.32 goals against average (GAA) and .511 save percentage (SV%). Kelsey started only one game and finished 1-1, 11.84 GAA and .468 SV%.
“Honestly, I’m only going into my third year with the program, so in transition, you have to give everybody a chance until they give you a reason not to,” Kotowicz said. “So I think we will continue to give people chances, but Allie’s growth within the program has definitely put her in a position to be successful for us next year.”
[media-credit id=2200 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]The year also saw further growth from junior midfielder Allison Kuhn and sophomore attack Ashley Bobinski. Kuhn continues to score goals, improving from 26 in 2017 to 35 this past season. Bobinski finished with 29 goals and 49 points, but she has yet to reach her ceiling, according to Kotowicz.
“[Bobinski’s] got more [to show], they all do,” Kotowicz said. “I think they’re willing to put the work in to making sure they get there.”
Having suited up for her final game as a Bobcat, Kelly took a look at her career and the development of the program over her time here and is excited for what’s to come.
“Bittersweet ending,” Kelly said. “I feel like it’s been a good four years – I wish there was a different outcome in the end. I think there’s a lot of potential, I think there’s an eye on the prize and knowing that playoffs is what’s going to be part of the culture and it’s not unnegotiable, that’s something that you have to fight for every year.”
The team has a lot of work to do in terms of playing a complete game. Several of the close losses that they had in MAAC play were close as a result of late pushes by the Bobcats to bring the score even after getting off to a slow start in the game.
The team has the depth offensively to put balls in the back of the net. They have 19 point scorers and 17 goal scorers on the year, but they need to make sure they aren’t relying too heavily on Bobinski and Kuhn to provide the offense majority of the offense seeing as how they’ve combined for 64 of the teams 154 goals (almost 42 percent).
If the Bobcats can start games with as much fire as they close them out, establish consistent goaltending and successfully fill the void with the departure of Kelly, then look for them to be contenders in the MAAC come the 2019 season.