‘It’s up to us’: Quinnipiac women’s lacrosse looks to exceed expectations


Connor Gorman

Senior goalkeeper Kat Henselder was named to the All-MAAC Second Team.

Michael LaRocca, Opinion Editor

Ninth place and 22 points. That’s where the MAAC women’s lacrosse coaches picked Quinnipiac after a 6-10 season and eighth-place finish in 2022, seeing it as the lowest of their peers for this season. But the goal for this Bobcats team is to silence the doubters waiting in the wings.

“I mean, there’s our motivators,” head coach Tanya Kotowicz said. “How do you know how a team is going to be until they actually get out there and do something? …What will happen is still yet to be known, but what is happening is known by only those inside the program now and it’s up to us to take care of that and it’ll speak for itself.”

Kotowicz’s eighth season at the helm of this program will be one that mandates success. So far during her tenure, the Bobcats have never finished at or above .500.

The closest the team ever came to a ,500 record was in 2020, when the team sat at 3-4 before the season was canceled due to the onset of COVID-19. The closest they came to a .500 record in a non-COVID modified season was the 6-10 campaign last year, where they did not qualify for the MAAC Tournament.

For the Bobcats to make that jump to contending within the MAAC, it will be crucial for them to make use of the assets they have acquired and developed over previous seasons.

At the moment, Quinnipiac has what might be the most valuable asset in the MAAC, and that is senior goalkeeper Kat Henselder. In 2022, Henselder was named to the All-MAAC Second Team after finishing second in the MAAC in goals against average (12.12), saves per game (10.44) and save percentage (.476). She also ranked within the top-20 nationally for the latter two statistics and within the top-50 for goals against average.

Those accolades from 2022 allowed Henselder to be the only Bobcat and only keeper named to the 2023 Preseason All-MAAC team. It proves that this season is the time for the senior to make a statement and be the brick wall the team needs and boost her teammates.

“(Henselder)’s been able to grow up as a person, not just as an athlete,” Kotowicz said. “She’s creative. She’s athletic. She’s not your typical stay in the crease kind of player. I think that that has helped us elevate the type of game we play, especially on the defensive end.”

On offense, Quinnipiac is returning four of its top-five scorers from last year. That includes sophomore midfielder EllaGrace Delmond, who is coming off an All-MAAC Rookie Team season in 2022, where she scored 25 goals for the Bobcats off the bench.

“It’s always nice to see a player return and have the stress of everything being new for the first time off their backs,” Kotowicz said. “(Delmond) has an intensity behind her. She is competi- tive beyond belief. So she’s been able to elevate not only her own play, and she plays fast, which is really fun. But she also elevates the play of the people around her.”

The team is also looking forward to production from its wealth of upperclassmen, making upover half the roster. The Bobcats are returning senior attacker Desiree Kleberg, who led the team in scoring last season with 38 points.

“I actually think some of our seniors and fifth- years have come back a little bit more mature, a little bit more ready to do something instead of just being here,” associate head coach Jordan Christopher said. “I think the leadership that we’re going to see from the eight seniors plus three fifth-years is something that’s going to be pretty cool for us.”

An interesting dynamic of MAAC women’s lacrosse in 2023 is that teams will have to fight through two defending conference champions to win the MAAC title. Fairfield is currently the defending MAAC champion, and with the conference’s addition of Mount St. Mary’s, teams will have to battle past the 2022 NEC champion as well.

“We’re excited to have (Mount St. Mary’s) in the conference,” Kotowicz said. “I think it strengthens our conference. But they’re a different style of game, which I think is even more fun for us. I think more than anything, it has allowed us to become more competitive because we lost Monmouth, they were always at the top. So to bring in another really talented team is really helpful.”

The road to a MAAC Championship for the Bobcats will begin Feb. 15 in Hamden when they face off against Sacred Heart. That game kickstarts an eight-game non-conference schedule before MAAC play begins on Mar. 25 against Marist.

The Red Foxes were actually the team that Kotowicz won a conference title with in 2008. That experience is still in the back of her head, reminding her of what it takes to reach the top once again.

“It was all about consistency,” Kotowicz said. “It was believing in something that no one else sees … What we were believing in was the process … It has driven the foundation of how we are coaching now.”

It is that coaching foundation that will look to drive the Bobcats down the road that will lead to a berth in the MAAC Tournament, or maybe even the MAAC Championship.