Senior day is a tradition that most Vassar teams participate in annually. It is a moment of mixed emotion as teams take the time to recognize all that a graduating class has done for a program. This year, the Vassar Women’s Lacrosse team will say goodbye to eight graduating seniors: Kate Pula, Katherine Stegmann, Leigh Ann Baldwin, Evie Toland, Enya Cunningham, Dara Davis, Jackie Palma and Hilary McDonnell.
The seniors currently hold a 10-5 winning record overall and 6-3 record in the conference. They are on a five game winning streak, continuing it with a big victory over Clarkson to clinch their third place spot in the Liberty League playoffs on their senior day. This is the best finish to a season in team history, and the girls took the time to honor their eight departing teammates in a pregame ceremony.
Palma, a defender, described their season going into the weekend, “As far as the rest of our season has gone, we’ve been doing really well overall and this weekend will solidify our third place spot in playoffs if we win – and we will win.” They did win, and now are seeded third going into Liberty League Championships.
Junior attacker Izzy Goldstein has also been satisfied with the outstanding season VC Lacrosse has had, looking forward to the weekend, “I think our season has so far showcased how talented we are but we’ve also had a lot of ups and downs so this weekend will be an opportunity to show how it’s going to go. We have a balanced team of young and old, we have a lot of strong seniors but a lot of really talented fresh freshmen – fresh like rude. It’s been a real test for us because the league is so competitive this year.”
Goldstein described the importance of the ceremony, “I think senior day is really important to us because it’s a time to celebrate all that this senior class has done for us. We make it a really big deal. We get really excited to decorate for it, we do a lot and just really have the mentality that this game will not be the seniors’ last game of the season. For all of us it’s really important, but for them – this is everything. Because they mean so much to us this game means so much to us.”
“Senior day is always scary but awesome at the same time. Each year, even when you’re not a senior, because you know you’re losing a class within a couple weeks so that’s just a scary thought – to think the girls who you’ve been playing with for the last three months are leaving. But, I think as far as my senior class as a whole is concerned, I couldn’t be more proud of what we have accomplished this season. And in the last three years we went from having a really horrible losing record my freshman year to being one of the top competitors in the league. I appreciate my senior class for helping me bring that change to our program,” gushed Palma.
One of the biggest contributions the class of 2015 has made to the lacrosse team had been an increased sense of equality on the field. Palma explained, “Our team is so dynamic, from the freshman up to us, we all are so different, but we are more skilled and our senior class has really allowed us to change the dynamic of this team. In that, while there is some sort of a hierarchy, there really isn’t on the field – we want the freshmen to kick our butts in practice, we want them to make us better. We wanted to change that, to bring that sort of culture to our team…It’s not like only seniors get to start or only seniors get to play – whoever works hard at practice should earn that spot, and that’s what I think our class has really tried to enforce over the past three years.”
Goldstein thinks the seniors’ impact can be felt in the mental aspects of the team, elaborating, “In terms of my position as a junior, this senior class could not be any better or any more important to my experience. Coming in, establishing a winning mentality – I think we’re really seeing a new era of Vassar Lacrosse – and that I completely credit to all the work that these eight seniors have done. They are a really diverse group of individuals, but together they come together to make really such an amazing class. They really set the tone this season and allowed us to have some big wins.”
Another big focus for the seniors has been making practice as productive an exercise as possible. “We really have the work hard play hard mentality. We know that every day at practice if we can work hard as a group, as a senior class, then that will trickle down to everyone else putting in maximum efficiency at practice,” explained Palma. Goldstein noticed the same thing, “One of the most important experiences has been facing Jackie every day at practice. We always talk to each other about how we have to make each other better – I mean, she checks the shit out of me, and I lose the ball, and I know it’s because I’m getting better every day.”
Another player that made a lasting impression on her teammates was Enya Cunningham. Goldstein commented on what Cunningham has brought to her experience, “What Enya has done for our team is something that really strikes me. She didn’t play lacrosse in high school, she picked it up her freshman year and started on our team her sophomore year. But she’s just the most tremendous athlete. Now that she’s a senior, her lacrosse skills have caught up and she plays almost every minute of every game. Her potential is endless. But, beyond that, just getting to hold her pinkie before the game – because she’s 6 and I’m 8 – and I just feel how strong she is and how much she cares. She wouldn’t have even have had the opportunity to play anywhere but here, and that is so special because just her presence and her athletic mindset makes us as a team so much better.”
Overall, the graduating eight seniors have a lot to be proud of for what they have done for the Brewers, laying down a strong base for future success.