Among other accomplishments this summer, the lacrosse team was featured on ESPN.com as one of the many “great college sports programs that don’t garner the attention that they deserve.”
The team is the most successful team at the College in terms of national championships and is a powerhouse in NCAA Division III.
The Lions have been able to maintain its high level of competition thanks to head coach Sharon Pfluger, recent inductee of the 50th class of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
“I’m just really flattered,” Pfluger said. “I think it’s wonderful to be thought of for something like that. I credit all the players and the assistant coaches.”
Pfluger is also head coach of the field hockey team and has led it to seven NCAA Championships since 1985.
Since NCAA lacrosse began in 1985, the Lions have placed third four times, placed second five times and won 13 Division III titles. According to ESPN.com, the Lions are 318-26-1 under Pfluger with an NCAA record .923 winning percentage and six undefeated seasons, including a 102-game winning streak.
All of the lacrosse team’s recognition is not thanks to Pfluger alone. The College has produced 60 All-Americans who have received a total of 95 All-America titles. Twelve of those players went on to win Division III National “Field” Player of the Year awards while one player, midfielder Katie Wagenblast, received the Division III National Overall Player of the Year award in 2004.
In order to continue the lacrosse team’s successful run, Pfluger holds a high standard for the prospects she recruits. Among other aspects, she takes into account success in high school, ability to read the game, speed and strength.
“I think we do the best recruiting we can,” Pfluger said. “It’s a lot of responsibility to develop an athlete in college. It’s got to be a kid who believes in the program. They have to sacrifice a lot of precious time and work really hard in the off-season.”
The team’s long history of success also puts pressure on the players to continue their winning habits.
“Every time we step on the field, we are expected to play to the standard of the program,” senior midfielder Toni-Anne Cavallo said. “There is a tradition to uphold every time we step on the field to play good solid lacrosse, and that’s what we try to do. I think every team that has played for the program every year feels that pressure to maintain that standard.”
Over the summer, members of the team racked up even more awards. Senior midfielder Karen Doane and Cavallo were named Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) All-Americans for their performance on the field. Alumna defender Tara Withers and Doane were put on the IWLCA Academic Honor Roll for maintaining above a 3.2 GPA during the demanding lacrosse season.
Doane was also named the 2007 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III Metro Women’s Lacrosse Player of the Year, while Cavallo and junior Katie Reuther were named to the ECAC Division III All-Star Team.
Doane, a second-time All-American, led the team in both points (62) and goals (49) last season. She managed to tally a point in every single game last season and is currently riding a 21-game scoring streak.
Standing at 130 career goals, Doane is 17th on the College’s all-time scoring list and 19th in points with 167. She was also named to the 2007 ESPN The Magazine CoSIDA Academic All-District at-Large Second Team.
Cavallo led the Lions in assists last season with a total 15. She also netted 32 goals after having just 20 and 22 goals in her freshman and sophomore seasons, respectively.
“I think the difference between the number of my goals my sophomore and junior year has to do more with the role I needed to play this year,” Cavallo said. “Every year, your role changes depending on the makeup of the team and you grow as a player. I just went out there and worked harder on what I needed to do … in order for us to be successful.”
Cavallo spent last summer at the Marine Corps Officer’s Candidate School. Only 75 percent of the 800 participants graduated from the six-week course. Not only did she graduate, Cavallo was one of 14 to be awarded a Certificate of Achievement and was named the Most Physically Fit Female in the program.
Also a member of the women’s soccer team, Cavallo has been and will remain a defensive force for the Lions who fell in the NCAA Division III Championship game last year to Wheaton College.
“I have always played more than one sport,” Cavallo said. “I think playing sports keeps me grounded in my academics, and I think throughout the years it has helped me learn to be very productive at managing my time. I really don’t know what it would be like any other way.”
This year’s senior players already have two NCAA Division III Championships under their belts, but it looks as though they still have some unfinished business this spring:
“This season’s goal is the same as the last three: to win a national championship,” Cavallo said. “Every year the team is different and things change, but our goal always remains the same.”