Women’s lacrosse faces challenges in a new division


Six wins. Six losses. As of early April, the varsity women’s lacrosse team has nearly completed a successful season, moving up 7 spots in the state ranking and 749 spots in the national ranking. Their accomplishments on and off the field are amplified by their transition to Division I this year.

“The major difference between this season and last year’s is that we moved up to Division I from Division II,” captain senior Sally Abel said. “Our competition has been much harder.”

Abel later said that the difficult opponents have forced players to up their game and rise to the occasion.

“We are still in shock whenever we play against a crazily talented team,” senior Virginia Tuan said. “I think we have handled the pressure well.”

The team is more motivated than ever due to the determination to prove that Piedmont deserves to be Division I, freshman Charlotte Prendergast said.IMG_3262

“This season we have to show other teams what Piedmont lacrosse is all about,” Abel said.

Sophomore Zoe Torok said that the competition is frustrating at times, and the team is punished for every small mistake they make on the field. In order to be successful, games and practices have become more intense.

“This season is a lot more hard-core and we have been more focused on games rather than receiving P.E. credit,” Tuan said.

Commitment to the sport is additionally vital, Tuan said. Two-hour practices occur Monday through Friday, excluding game days. Saturday practices are held by captains. Tuan also said that there has been a palpable emphasis on conditioning.

“The dynamic on the field has been more structured and strict than past years,” Torok said.

Despite the added pressure this season, the coach, Emily Hook, is understanding and flexible with the players’ schedules and she diligently works to reduce stress, Torok said.

“The coaches are absolutely amazing; Emily is the best coach I have ever had,” captain senior Kate Abel said. “She understands that school is important. Her being a teacher at the school really helps her connect with the players more which is super nice.”

Prendergast said that Hook is simultaneously a teammate and a mentor who takes time to get to know her players on and off the field.

“Emily [Hook] knows what she’s doing,” Tuan said. “She pushes you just the right amount without making you break.”

This season was also unique due to the diversity of grades levels on the varsity team. Out of the 29 girls, nine players are underclassmen and nine are seniors, Prendergast said. Luckily, she said that the age difference does not cause a social divide.

“I think what makes the girls lacrosse team different from most teams is the bond we share,” Prendergast said. “As a freshman it was hard to go out and play with all these upperclassmen, but they immediately took me under their wings.”

The team manages to find fun in every situation, which helps them through the stressful competition, Tuan said.

“We’ve become one giant cult,” Tuan said. “If you see a lacrosse player in the hall, you’ve gotta say ‘hi.’”

Tuan said that a prime example of the team’s improvement was their game against Redwood High School. Last year, Piedmont lost by 11 points; this year, they won by 12. Similarly, Piedmont triumphed over University High School 13-10 this season, which is a drastic change from their loss in the championship last year.

“The team has done a much better job at not shutting down as a team during a game when the competition is high, which was an issue last year,” Hook said.

Hook later said that, despite losing games by 10 or more points to strong competitors like Novado and Cal High, the players walked away feeling accomplished. Each player learned from her mistakes and never gave up.

“We’ve had an amazing season,” Sally said. “I am so proud.”