The Will to Win

Kerrigan Fox Coyle ‘15

STAFF WRITER

 

Does the 2015 Le Moyne College women’s lacrosse team have the will to win? It is the question everyone should be asking and the question the players should be asking themselves. The past two years have left the team short of their goals and it wasn’t because they weren’t talented enough. Toughness and more importantly, mental toughness is what has separated them from winning the final game of the season. Their goal last year from then head coach Beth Hewitt was to finish, something they failed to do. After a successful career, Hewitt left her position to take a different one at Vanderbilt University, leaving an opening for a new coach to come and pick up where Coach Hewitt left off.

When you first meet  Kathy Taylor you notice immediately something that separates her from her peers. Her energy is contagious and it makes you believe that Le Moyne has landed a truly special coach. Coach Taylor has brought the “will to win” here to the Heights, something that has been missing from the women’s program. Coach Taylor comes to the Heights from Division III SUNY Cortland where she built the Red Dragons into a perennial final four team.

Last year was a disappointment for a Dolphin team that had a set goals of making the final four and winning a National Championship. Not accomplishing either of those goals left the returning players with a chip on their shoulders and a renewed commitment. The arrival of Coach Taylor could not have come at a better time for the program and  for the players who want to match their male counterparts with a National Championship ring.

Whenever there is a change at the coaching position, it requires the entire team to transition and change roles. With Coach Taylor’s philosophy on lacrosse and the fast pace she coaches her teams to play at it is much different for the returning players. It leaves all of the girls from freshman to seniors learning to practice and play in a totally different way. It is a culture change in every way possible. Not just playing fast, it is doing everything faster. “We want to be fast, but we don’t want to be reckless,” said Coach Taylor.

Knowing the line between fast and reckless takes experience. Erica Geremia, a junior transfer from SUNY Cortland, brings her knowledge and experience of Coach Taylor’s style of play with her. Geremia is Le Moyne’s only Division II preseason All-American;  impressive considering that she has yet to play a single Division II game.

What has to be remembered is that, normally, when a new coach comes in, it takes a couple years to get back to where the team was before. What excites Coach Taylor is the amount her players have brought into her and what she is trying to teach them.

“Catie McKay wants to win,” said Coach Taylor in my interview with her. She spoke about how the senior McKay and former attacker will now be seen on defense, crediting McKay for her willingness to do anything to help her team win in her final chance to reach her ultimate goal.

Praise was also held for senior midfielder Laura Hoffman, who Coach Taylor believes will take on a larger responsibility both as a team captain and as an offensive point scorer.

“My first responsibility was the transition between two great coaches. Now, I’m focused on keeping up the tempo of practice, continuing to make practice positive, and motivating my teammates for the exciting season ahead of us,” said Hoffman. “When coach says play fast, I think more about our transition games versus our settled offense. Our offense is forced to play faster and capitalize on man up situations. Since we move the ball quickly through the midfield our advantage will be physically beating our opponents down the field.”
Hoffman understands the ball moves faster in the air than it does in your stick. Something her new coach never lets her forget.

“There’s something different about Le Moyne this year,” said Coach Taylor, referring to how her team will be playing at an increased speed from last year.  She also wants everyone else saying it as well. It may additionally be said by the coach of the opposing team as they walk off the field wondering how they lost to the Dolphins by ten goals.

Out of their first six games, four of the teams are ranked in the top ten nationally, leaving no margin for growing pains this season. Coach Taylor on playing some of the best teams in the country, “We get a report card and then we go to work on it, if they(her players) need to climb, they know what they are going after. If it is good we stay humble and keep working and if it’s not so good then its okay because we need to know that with a new coaching staff.’’

Winning is a habit. The good thing for Le Moyne is winning is the only thing Coach Taylor has proven to know how to do. The season opener for the Dolphins is against Mercyhurst University, on the road Feb 28th.  The home opener is against Grand Valley State, Thursday March 5th at 3pm at Ted Grant Field. Be prepared to say, “There’s something different about Le Moyne.”