The 18th varsity sport at Plattsburgh State, the women’s lacrosse team, is prepared to make the final leap to SUNYAC competition for the 2019 season.
Recruiting for a new program has its challenges, but head coach Julia Decker has also seen it as one of her largest selling points, giving prospective athletes an opportunity to come and play right away, make their mark and start a tradition. Fourteen women are committed for the fall, according to Decker.
“We’re really excited about a lot of these girls and to get this whole group in there,” Decker said.
These recruits are coming in as both students and athletes unlike the women on this semester’s spring squad who didn’t come to PSUC with the intention to play, Decker said. The head coach thinks the influx of experienced, committed athletes will help elevate the team to the next level of competition.
Not all of the women on the team this semester may make the final roster next semester, Decker admitted, but many of the 15 women who played this semester intend to tryout for the varsity squad next season.
The developmental season, as Decker called this semester of play, didn’t go without challenges. Along with hosting local clinics, they played in two scrimmages against Clarkson University and the junior varsity side of the 2016 national champions, Middlebury College. Getting on the field certainly helped the squad prepare for varsity play but also exposed the holes in the team and the work still needed if they hope to make noise in the conference next year.
“[The games] were an adjustment for sure,” Decker said.
The inexperience of the team, and the season being a big year for official rule changes in the sport forced Plattsburgh to constantly adjust. Rule changes in women’s lacrosse included allowing teams to restart play more quickly after certain stoppages in play, such as when the ball goes out of bounds, in which cases the game clock no longer stops.
“The pace of play just sped up so much with the rule changes, so it was awesome to see we adjusted well all throughout that scrimmage [against Clarkson], and we definitely had an easier time going into the Middlebury scrimmage,” Decker said.
Looking ahead to the inaugural season in the SUNYAC, Decker knows that the team will have a litany of challenges in one of the division’s more difficult conferences. Decker herself is no stranger to the SUNYAC—a former lacrosse player at the College at Brockport, she started her coaching career at SUNY Geneseo.
“Next year is about setting the bar,” Decker said.
With two SUNYAC teams being ranked in the top 25 nationally, and SUNY Cortland winning the 2015 national championship, it won’t come easy for the young Plattsburgh side.
“Ultimately, we want to be competing. We don’t want to be dead last. We want to compete in every game,” Decker said.
Email Ken Bates at email@example.com