Allegheny lacrosse overcomes injuries, anticipates new men’s team


Contributed by Sean King

The women’s lacrosse team huddles by the sideline during its game against John Carroll University at Frank B. Fuhrer Field on March 27, 2019.

Bruised, but not broken.

The Allegheny College women’s lacrosse team has changed its game plan over the course of the spring season in response to unexpected game-related injuries, including concussions and a broken leg.

In a game that involves 12 people out of the 20-person team on the field at once, the injuries have caused shortages of substitute players, requiring healthy team members to work overtime.

Head Coach Ashley Hughes, ’08, explained the new challenges the team has to face, including the need to be versatile and flexible with its positioning.

“The nice thing is that a lot of people have been willing and able to step up wherever we need them and being really good team players in that,” Hughes said. “But in terms of having additional subs and a lot of legs for games, we haven’t had that advantage this year, so we’ve been asking for a lot from those that are healthy.”

Most of the injuries the players sustained were sports-related, according to attacker Brenna Lawler, ’21. However, she believes this has brought the team closer together and made them work much harder to make up for missing players.

“It’s definitely affected us because we know that we have to work that much harder because we do have less legs,” Lawler said. “It also makes us work a lot harder in practice and preparation for games because there’s that much more on the line, so I feel like it’s definitely prepared us more, which is a good thing.”

Attacker Evi Malagise, ’21, repeated her teammate’s statement about having to work harder to make up for missing players. She said she considers herself lucky not to have sustained any serious injuries this season.

“Everybody’s just had to step it up a lot more,” Malagise said. “We’ve had to practice a lot more outside of practice to maintain the game that we’re used to playing.”

The game itself consists of four attackers, four defenders, three midfielders and one goalie. There are currently five seniors, three juniors, six sophomores and six first-years.

Malagise emphasized the fast-paced nature of the game can work against the team. She pointed out the struggles of midfielders, who cover the entirety of the playing field during the game and now may not be able to switch out as freely.

Contributed by Sean King
Attacker Sarah Basden, ‘19, runs with the ball during the game against John Carroll.

“Most of our injuries so far have been concussions and a leg injury just from the game being so violent, so there really isn’t much that we can do to avoid that, besides just trying to play the cleanest game we can, and then hopefully us being kind of classy on the field will encourage our opponents to keep it as clean as possible,” Malagise said.

Midfielder Mary Allen, ’22, discussed a change in tone over the course of her first season in collegiate athletics. She pointed out frustration over the losses of games but believes the team bounced back.

“At the beginning of the season, we were getting a little negative, a little frustrated with each other, but our ability to bounce back from that is really amazing,” Allen said. “The past few weeks we’ve been having such a change in attitude and mindset and just our positivity has been amazing lately. Our ability to criticize ourselves — like constructively criticize ourselves — has gotten better.”

Allen, who was introduced to the college via a direct email from Hughes, said she felt like it was the perfect fit.

“We’re a small team, but that doesn’t really affect (us) — we all are very supportive of each other, and we don’t let it affect our play,” Allen said. “I’m definitely wowed by coming (to Allegheny).”

The team will be facing vast changes going into next year as they welcome both a large incoming first-year class and new men’s lacrosse faces with the inaugural men’s lacrosse team. There will be nine first-years next season for the women’s team.

The past few weeks we’ve been having such a change in attitude and mindset and just our positivity has been amazing lately.

— Mary Allen, Class of 2022

The coaches have always wanted between eight and 10 recruits and that was not influenced by the amount of injuries this season, according to Hughes. She said by recruiting nine students, women’s lacrosse hit its expected goal.

Malagise expressed her excitement for the larger class coming in. She said the added players will help in light of this season’s injuries.

“I liked helping the freshman acclimate to this season and all of their classes, so I really look forward to doing that again with the upcoming freshman,” Malagise said.

Lawler expects her older teammates to step into leadership roles next year. There will only be three seniors next season, so she plans on taking charge herself.

“They are going to be looking to us for guidance and how things are going to work,” Lawler said. “It’s definitely going to be a lot of teachable moments.”

With the introduction of men’s lacrosse in the spring of 2020, the ladies are looking forward to seeing other lacrosse players, according to Lawler.

“I’m really excited that we’re gonna have a men’s team,” Lawler said. “It’s also going to be nice because we’ll go to their games, and they’ll come to our games, so it’ll be kind of cool to have another team on campus that’s playing lacrosse. It’s kind of lonely being the only one.”

As women’s lacrosse prepares to conclude this season and welcome its new peers next year, the team continues its proactive thoughts and continually strives to be the best it can be.

“I’m thankful that even though we have had so many setbacks this season that everybody on the team is willing to work and do their best, and we keep supporting each other,” Malagise said. “It’s really been helpful.”