After earning the two seed and finishing as runner-ups in the New Jersey Athletic Conference Championship game last season, the Rowan women’s lacrosse team had every reason to feel proud.
However, after losing three key players on the team due to season-ending injuries, there was no lack of adversity last year.
But this year, in her 13th season, Head Coach Lindsay Delaney figured other plans: recruit talent and develop a young core.
By having an impressive off-season, the Profs were selected to finish second in the NJAC by the Preseason Coaches Poll.
In the process of rebuilding a new roster, the program’s pre-season consisted of new faces and many introductions, but Delaney’s expectations haven’t changed.
“The expectations are the same every year, we are looking for the NJAC title, get into the NCAAs to represent Rowan in a positive way,” Delaney said.
With the addition of 12 incoming freshmen and three returners who suffered season-ending injuries last year, there are 15 new players on the field.
Senior Julia Stumpf, who missed the entire preseason last year and a majority of the regular season, is ready to approach a more important role as a leader on and off the field.
“Julia has been a huge bonus. We didn’t have her the entire preseason, we just got her the day before our first game,” Delaney said. “Super excited to have her back, poised and controlled, the rest of the seniors are defenders, so they are all just trying to give good energy, commitment to the team and excellence, but all together they are doing a nice job.”
Stumpf ignites a spark as the only senior forward on an offensive force that has tallied 38 goals through four games, along with Juniors Ashley Lechliter, Julia Grlica and Dara Hennessy.
“I have a responsibility to pick up for that [leadership],” Stumpf said. “I had to step out of my comfort zone a little bit but I think even the younger players have done such a great job helping me lead and leading themselves is really good for the program.”
Leading the defense will be four-year starter senior Lilli Carbone and Kacey McCann.
Freshmen that will contribute immediately are Michaela Donnelly, Natalie DePersia, and Erin Scioli.
“The pressure to perform was something that when I was a sophomore I was overwhelmed with it,” Stumpf said. “I try to instill the confidence in the young players and telling them that I want them to take a shot and do certain stuff so that they are ready for the big games and not worry about not having confidence.”
After beginning their campaign with an overall record of 2-2, all games on the road and both defeats against nationally-ranked teams, No. 10 Catholic University and No. 7 Salisbury, the performances provide optimism and confidence heading into conference play.
“I have learned that we are better together and they have learned that they need all 12 people on the field and their bench to rally,” Delaney said. “There will be mistakes and we need to rebound well and quickly from them. They are learning that too, they see it on film. Our philosophy this year is to play together to take the next step.”
Stumpf believes that the lack of aggressiveness and minimal team chemistry were factors in the team’s only two losses.
“We have to become more gritty if we want to beat the big teams, and improve our record and do well as the season goes on,” Stumpf said. “We are learning still to gel together because of the new people, but we are starting to get there.”
The Brown and Gold will play their first home game of the season at Richard Wackar Stadium on Wednesday, March 11 and open NJAC competition on April 7 at 4 p.m. against The College of New Jersey in Ewing, NJ.
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