Though not readily apparent, the Linfield women’s lacrosse team experienced a season of growth under first-year coach Sean Hansen.
The Wildcats won once in 15 outings. But the club’s final statistics reveal the 2017 club was an improved version from the season prior.
The number of goals allowed (61 fewer) and turnovers (57 fewer) were both down, while shooting percentage (.411 to .387) and ground balls (83 more) were up.
“We made strides in a positive direction,” said Hansen, who inherited a team with just one senior. “I hope the results of this season make our girls hungry for what is possible.”
In addition to more rigorous practice sessions, often conducted in pouring rain, Hansen instituted a number of team bonding experiences designed to unite teammates with one another. The effects on the team’s performance were subtle yet steady.
“Over the course of the season, our defense got better in every way possible,” said Hansen. “We had some great individual defensive efforts. One of our unsung heroes was Olivia Hollenbeck. She was a real vocal leader for us.”
Offensively, freshman Dana Brooks led the team in scoring, netting 21 goals and three assists. Mae Seifert shared the lead with Brooks for total points, tallying 19 goals and five assists.
“Dana came into our program having never played organized lacrosse. She was a basketball, volleyball and track athlete. But she did all the things we asked of her in the offseason and came out and had an all-conference season.
“Mae helped a lot in the midfield, winning a lot of 50/50 balls. She was a true midfield transitioner.”
Rookie Carole Thomas was anointed the team’s Competitor of the Year by the coaching staff. “Carole is a hard worker who has the intangibles we value as a program, such as hustle and competitiveness.”
Defenders Amidee Colleknon and Sarah Stuck also drew praise from their coach, who said the pair “had good defensive seasons.”
Kylee Duey was “solid in goal,” Hansen said, playing every minute of every match in goal and making 88 saves.
At season's end, three Wildcats - Brooks, Seifert and Stuck - were named second team Northwest Conference all-stars.
Linfield’s lone victory of the spring came in the team’s opener, a 14-5 rout of the University of Dallas. But the momentum of the early win didn’t carry over to the rest of the season. A two-goal loss to Puget Sound in the third match impacted the team’s confidence to win close contests.
“We have to learn to turn the ball over fewer times and hopefully score more goals,” said Hansen, looking ahead to next season.