The Fairfield University women’s lacrosse team has won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship for the last four years in a row and they show absolutely no signs of slowing down. This year gets even more exciting with the reintroduction of a fall schedule or “fall ball” for the Stags, which is something that they were not able to have last year due to COVID restrictions. Ahead of their first game of the fall on Sunday Oct. 3rd, The Mirror spoke with head coach Laura Field, and captain Caroline Mangan ‘22 to get a preview of their season.
One of the things that we talked about in the interview was how they are going to take the lessons that they learned from their amazing season last spring and apply them to this new season.
“I think what everyone is taking away from last season is that you have to be ready for the unpredictable,” said Field, “That has always been an asset of our team, and that is something we have had to lean on over the last four years.” She went on to talk about the rapidly changing environment of last season, helped to build up the resilience of the team and taught all the players how to step up into different roles on the team. Of course a major part of the obstacles faced by last season came back to the effects that COVID had on their season.
Field elaborated, “Anything that had an in-person element that involved gathering in large groups had to face it [COVID] head on. I am so proud of how our girls rallied through it.”
In terms of the team’s plan to keep the positive momentum as they began this new season even after winning another championship title last season, Mangan focused on how the team’s compatibility as a group plays into their success as a team.
“I think our team chemistry is a huge part of that because we are such good friends,” Mangan described. That team feeling of closeness allows for better success on the field through more cohesive teamwork.
Mangan also touched upon the importance of coming into the fall season with a positive attitude and goals set, “We always come into the fall season and we always think about how we want to come out on top each year,” she said. “We try to take the mistakes we made last year and things that were hard for us last year and try to change them to achieve our goals.”
Although lacrosse’s competition season is in the spring, the fall season is an integral part of the training for the team and it allows for the team to work on a variety of skills that they might not be able to during the spring.
Mangan voiced this idea, “It is pretty similar to the spring season based on hours of practice… We are doing more conditioning and strength training in the fall to get us prepared, and to be in the best shape going into the spring.” She went on to say that they focus more on things like strength training in the fall because they have more time between games.
She also talks about how eager the team was to get started playing games this fall. She went on, “The fall is really fun. It’s so exciting leading up to playing games on the weekends… It’s great to have everybody eager to play and we all want to play with each other.”
Coach Field talked about her excitement as well, about being able to start playing with this team in particular. She shared, “They [the team] need to buy into the teaching that we are doing, and they have. It is super useful to have a team that is willing to learn, and fail, and try new things. That is something that comes from all our games in fall ball.”
In regard to what Mangan is looking for coming into her senior season as a captain, she said, “I am really excited about getting to be a captain with [graduate student] Kelly Horning because I have looked up to her throughout all my years as a player. We are really excited to lead our team to the end goal, which is getting another ring. That is what I have always said, I want to leave here with four rings on my hand… We want to achieve that goal that we always aim for, which is winning the championship.”
Field talked about how the team’s driving themes are always changing. “Family is something that is always our theme for them. Not the cliche version of family, but the meaning of family where they have to hold each other accountable. They can still love each other and then ask for a lot from each other. Even when they fight, like sisters, they still have to have each other’s backs.”
Field also said it is hard to define who a team is going to be before they have started playing games. She mentioned that is a plus of having a fall season, “We are going to have time to figure out who we are, which we didn’t really have last year.”
Coach Field can see trends in the team before the season starts, but relies on how the team looks from a competitive standpoint during actual games to tell her about what the team is going to need and excel at.
We also touched upon the challenges that the team is going to face this season. One of those challenges is being the reigning champion and what that means for them.
Field explained, “We have a target on our back going into this season. Not in a terrible way, but we are not going to sneak up on anybody this season, especially in our conference.” Mangan then echoed that sentiment, “No game is going to be beneath us, and no game is going to be easy.”
Both Field and Mangan made it clear that they are looking to see even more people in the stands than last season.
Field said, “I am so proud of our players and I was glad to see what great attendance we had last season because there wasn’t a lot of athletic activity going on on campus. The unintended consequence of that is that a lot of people got to see us for the first time. I want people to see how great this team is both in the spring and the fall.”
The Stags will continue working this fall, so that they can achieve their ultimate goal to win another MAAC Championship.