In a normal season, the Colby College women’s lacrosse team would be a month into the schedule, with more than half the regular season complete. The New England Small College Athletic Conference tournament would be taking shape, and the Mules would be able to look at possible playoff matchups.

This year, with the Covid-19 pandemic that shut down Colby’s 2020 season after six games, normal is reevaluated on a daily basis. Instead of working to peak as the regular season ends and the conference tournament begins, the Mules are just getting started. Colby opens the season Saturday at Bates, the first of four games currently on the Mules’ schedule, one on each of the four Saturdays in April.

As of now, Colby will play at Bates, host Tufts April 10, host Bates April 17, and play at Connecticut College April 27. More games could be scheduled, coach Karen Henning said.

“It’s going to be amazing,” Robyn Pirie, a senior attacker, said. Pirie was on her way to practice, and her enthusiasm was obvious, even on a phone call.

Under Henning, the Mules have reached the NCAA Division III women’s lacrosse tournament eight times in 12 seasons (Henning’s 13th season as Colby’s coach was 2020, but the tournament was cancelled). Colby reached the tournament in 2019, the last time it was held, falling in the first round to the College of New Jersey. The tournament is back on this season. Getting there is a goal, even in a season that begins with a schedule that is likely to change considerably, with games added as possible opponents meet Covid-19 testing protocols.

“It’s (the NCAA tournament) in the back of our minds. It’s something we’d love to strive for and work for. The bigger thing is, how can we play our best? If we’re at our best and we can compete, we’ll go for it and see what happens,” Henning said. “We’re trying to keep everybody safe but get an opportunity to play.”

“That’s absolutely a goal of ours,” Pirie said of reaching the NCAA tournament. “We’ll have fun while doing it, but the goal is always to make NCAAs.”

Pirie said she and her teammates tried to keep a brave face though an uncertain offseason, but as fall and winter seasons were either cancelled or played with minimal competition, they were not optimistic.

“I think we were saying outwardly pessimistic things but hoping,” Pirie said. “When we found out we’re playing, we were so excited.”

Henning sees an appreciation in the game from her team.

“Lacrosse has been that outlet, that stress release through all of this,” Henning said.

With five of the top seven scorers from last year’s short, six-game season back, the Mules have offensive potential. Annie Eddy scored 16 goals last season, while Gianna Brunno scored 12 and Grace Langmuir 10. Pririe scored five goals last season. Goaltender Emily Podgorni is back after starting five games in 2020, as is Hannah Marino, who started one game last season.

Whether the Mules are able to expand the schedule to include more games before the NESCAC tournament and strengthen their resume for a possible NCAA bid, the last year has brought the team closer, Henning said. This season, the Mules have a motto, “Above all, together.”

“I think it’s very fitting,” Henning said. “If we can’t play, we’ll support each other.”

 

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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