Gaining traction under a new head coach, the Linfield women’s lacrosse program began the Kat Enders era with positive results. A cultural shift toward greater team unity was clearly evident throughout the 2015 season.
“We built a strong foundation of hard work and a team-first attitude that will carry on for years to come,” said Enders, a Portland native and graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University. “When we faced adversity, we were able to take it in stride and attack things with a very positive attitude.”
Though Linfield completed the season without the realization of a single team victory, the prevailing attitude remained upbeat.
“Players were able to grow individually but also as a unit,” said Enders. “Our team chemistry was consistently strong but on the field it was easy to see it improve as the season went on. As the season progressed we were able to implement more complex team strategy and rely more heavily on the individual skills of each player on the field.”
The Wildcats’ best chance to collect a win came during the team’s Spring Break trip to Ohio. Against Hiram, Linfield rallied from a four-goal deficit in the second half, eventually tying the score with only 9 seconds remaining to force overtime. While the ‘Cats ultimately came up short, Enders felt as though the match really embodied the team’s competitive spirit.
Two seniors, Halee Helgerson and Chas Tittle, led the way in scoring. Helgerson totaled 27 goals and assisted on six other scores to finish with 33 points. Tittle cashed in a career-best 17 goals while adding three assists. A third senior, Rebecca Kropp, notched 14 goals and two assists. And despite missing seven matches due to injury, Kelsey Dammarell was a prominent offensive contributor, picking up 16 goals and two assists.
At the end of the season, Helgerson, Kropp and Dammerall all received Northwest Conference all-star recognition.
“Kelsey was able to come back ‘guns-a-blazin’ and finish the season strong,” praised Enders. “The team was glad to have her back and also reminded how lucky we are to be healthy enough to participate in athletics."
Helgerson, Tittle and Kropp developed into fine team leaders as the year wore on. They helped forge a new vision for the future of the program, noted Enders. Their contributions, plus those of fellow senior Emma Sandaine, “leave a legacy as we move forward.”
Competing in at least half of the Wildcats’ 16 matches, nine first-year players gained valuable experience.
Next season, Linfield will “benefit from having a deeper bench,” Enders pointed out. “We have a great class of first-year students coming from both Oregon and Washington state that will help us grow in numbers and also lacrosse IQ.”