April 26, 2007

W. Lacrosse’s Senior Class Reflects on Cornell Careers

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Like an assortment of M&Ms, the seniors on the women’s lacrosse team, co-captains Margaux Viola and Ashleigh Smith, Mary Montague, Lindsey Moore, Anne Riordan and Alison McKeown, seem completely diverse, with a range of personalities, majors and life goals.
However, once you melt away the colorful variety of exterior differences, it is easy to see why these unique girls are closely bonded teammates.
“Our unique personalities make us flourish,” Viola said. “We know each other well enough and really respect each other. The original class of 2007 was 14 freshmen strong, but now, a group of six tight-knit athletes face the end of a lacrosse career that has been at times thrilling, frustrating and always tumultuous.”
“Things have definitely changed so much over the years, but in the end, we are a pretty tight group,” Montague said.
Tumultuous is almost an understatement when reviewing the last four years in Cornell women’s lacrosse. The freshmen season that these girls endured was not a warm and fuzzy introduction to Red lacrosse as the team had a losing 6-9 record. The following year, the situation improved for the Red who reversed the previous year’s results with a 9-6 winning season. Junior year was the crowning achievement for all these athletes, when they won the Ivy League championship for the first time in women’s lacrosse history.
“We’ve experienced both extremes of a team being successful and unsuccessful,” Moore said. “That has helped make us stronger and we’ve grown together as a group.”
Personally, they have all had completely varied experiences on the team. Viola, Montague, Riordan, Smith and Moore were all apart of the original freshmen group, while McKeown joined the team her junior year and also plays on the Cornell soccer team. Montague had a roller coaster career after she was injured during her freshmen season. Her sophomore year she acted as a team manager until she was finally cleared to play again last season.
Riordan lost her senior season after she tore her ACL for the second time although she has remained a part of the team. Smith missed her sophomore season when she decided to study abroad. Viola and Moore are the only two teammates that have played all four years.
“We have all come through in different ways but we all ended up together,” Mckeown said. “Coming in as a junior transfer you don’t know how the team will respond but my class just picked me up and brought me into their very close unit, so I was very lucky for that.”
In spite of all the differences they have shared an enormous common experience. The women who came in freshmen year vividly recalled the terror they all felt when they realized they were playing at the college level and the pure dread of facing the mile-mile-mile test; a conditioning test that involves running three consecutive miles in under seven minutes. Of course, they fondly remembered nursing their wounds and sore muscles by consuming vast quantities of comfort food at Robert Purcell Community Center after practice. They also clearly recounted the most exciting game of their freshmen season, and perhaps their entire careers.
“Our Syracuse game freshmen year, we weren’t having a great season and it was a home game that we were expected to lose badly,” Moore said. ”We were up, then it was tied, and then it went into three overtimes. It was the longest game Cornell women’s lacrosse played, maybe ever, and we beat them by one.”
“I don’t think the team collectively had ever played that hard,” Riordan said. “I think it was the best overall game that I’ve played.”
Perhaps the greatest testament to the close bond these teammates have is their pre-game ritual. Initiated by Montague at the Columbia game this season, the class of 2007 gets together before every game for a pep talk to remind each other to cherish the fleeting moments left in their final season together. Though they will all head off in different directions after graduation day, these women will always have the friendships they have formed on and off the field to keep them connected.
“I’m going to miss pushing each other and being pushed,” Montague said. “I’m in the best shape of my life right now because I have teammates behind me every single day to push me.”