After a tough week of midterms, several Vassar teams packed their bags and flew off to sunny locations around the country. Seven different teams traveled to warm, tropical destinations including California, Arizona and Florida. The coaches shared that these trips are groundbreaking as they allow the teams to continue developing physically and technically, as well as growing as a team through team bonding and having some time to relax off of campus.
The women’s lacrosse team flew off to Bradenton, Fla. where they practiced hard, relaxed beachside and faced some tough competition over their five-day trip. The team went 2-0 in their season when they defeated New Hampshire’s Keene State with a score of 15-10. The Brewers worked as a cohesive unit to defeat the Owls, with nine different players reaching the back of the net. Two days later, the Bowdoin Polar Bears, who are currently ranked No. 17 in the nation, trumped the Brewers in a tough contest. The women put up a good fight, holding Bowdoin at a three-goal lead for a good portion of the contest, but the Polar Bears eventually took the game.
Coach Judy Finerghty noted, “In our match versus Bowdoin, I think our players realized that they can raise their performance level. It also showed our team that we need to keep playing hard and that we can capitalize on momentum at times during games to stay competitive. The game certainly highlighted our strengths but also underscored the things that we need to work on.” Overall, Coach Finerghty enthusiastically reported that the team enjoyed their trip, and joked, “[the team’s favorite part of the trip involved] eating good food, going to the beach and playing games”.
The men’s baseball team had the longest trip, spending two weeks in the Sunshine State while competing in a total of 13 games with six double-headers. While the trip was filled with grueling double-headers and a rough extra-inning loss, the defining moment came from sophomore Erik Strickland. After falling to the University of Wisconsin-Stout in their first game, the boys had a lot to prove going into the second half of their double-header. The team emerged with an impressive 13-3 win. Sophomore Chris Lee had his first collegiate hit and RBI and sophomore John Madsen pitched a scoreless inning. However the strongest performance came from Strickland who smashed his first career grand slam. He triumphed, “It was an awesome feeling, I was ecstatic when I saw the ball go over the fence. It’s a great way to start the year, I can’t wait to see what is in store for us for the rest of the season.”
Moving from the diamond to the courts, the men’s and women’s tennis teams traveled to California to compete in matches against nationally-ranked teams. Both teams finished 1-4 in California, yet the experience alone was worth the trip. The men’s team lost several tough matches, yet the boys played well and achieved success in singles and doubles match-ups. Overall, Coach Alex Wong believed the trip was success, “We saw each match as a challenge and an opportunity to grow as a team. It was great to get a lot of match play for all players on the team, as I think the experience will help everybody as we get to the home stretch of our schedule”.
The women’s highlights included their victory over Chapman University in addition to noteworthy performances in both singles and doubles matches from a majority of the team. Senior captain Kelsey Van Noy excelled with two third place finishes in singles matches against Washington College (Md.) and Chapman, while also capturing two No. 2 spots in doubles with fellow senior captain Lauren Stauffer.
Keeping with the theme of the Golden State, women’s golf packed up their clubs and traveled to City of Industry, California. The women trained hard, playing 18 holes for five days and competing against Whittier College. Unfortunately, the Brewers fell to the Poets 340-326. Coach Andy Jennings shared, “Both Anna, our Associate Head Coach and myself were really pleased with the way the team played, we had some great performances, which were topped off by Kristin winning the event with a 79.” With this phenomenal finish, Diep was awarded individual medalist honors. He added, “[the trip helped prepare the team in all aspects] physically, technically, emotionally, socially and psychologically.”
While they traded the beaches and greenery of California for the dry desert, the men’s and women’s track teams had a memorable time at the Willie Williams Invitational in Tuscon, Ariz. Both teams held their own against Division I opponents and reached impressive achievements, both personally and within the Invitational itself. Junior Gabe Fishman was a standout performer for the men, finishing fourth in the 800-meter, while sophomore Michael Walsh also thrived as he earned 17th place in the long jump and finished 12th in the triple jump. Sophomore Kyle Estrada also ran hard and was awarded 13th place when he finished the 400-meter run in 23:22.
The women’s team also braved the heat and managed to place at the Invitational. Like Blume, another freshman to shine through the competition was Christina Prater-Lee who finished the 1500-meter in just 2:28.62 to earn eighth place. To finish at the No. 21 spot, sophomore Savannah Wiman completed the 1500-meter run in 5:19.18 while freshman Megan Horan ended the 5000-meter in a quick 20:34.26.
The two weeks of spring break training allowed all seven Vassar teams to bond, improve and develop chemistry. Surely many memories were made both in and out of competition. Notable performances from faces new and old gave all Brewers a place to shine in the sun.