(Featured image by Jamie Gaffney)
While talking with the Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse programs, one thing was clear, and that was their thankfulness to compete this year.
Both programs shared an abundance of gratitude toward the maintenance crew, the athletic training staff, and the university’s administration. They noted that because of all of their selfless actions, they have an opportunity to play this year, and they will not waste a single day.
The Women’s Lacrosse program is led by head coach Stacey Florence and recently added assistant coach, Kaela Smith. Florence, now in her eighth year as head coach of the program, shared that unity and chemistry among the women will help lead the charge toward an OAC Championship this year.
“I am a big believer that if you really know each other off the field, it transitions onto the field. This team knows each other in and out and that unity we bring is special,” Florence said.
Of course, that approach to unity is assisted when returning nearly every starter from the year before. Among those returning are two graduate students by the names of Kat Walton (#4) and Briana Rampi (#2), both of whom have made headline performances countless times in the Capital Careers.
“[Walton and Rampi] are ready, and they are going to leave it out on the field every single game. They are here to go out on their terms,” shared Coach Florence.
In addition to those stars, Coach Florence shared with us two seniors that will also be significant assets. Those seniors are #10 Brooke Delara and #23 Dana Stover. Stover, who was out all last season with an ACL injury, is back now and is said to look to be a real threat to other teams.
On the Men’s side of the field, the Crusaders are led by Head Coach Don Marzano. Marzano will be assisted this year by Jesse Lawrence, Allan Rill, and McLean Fitzmartin.
Marzano began the interview sharing that the hardest day of his coaching career was nearly one year ago. This was at the time when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the NCAA to cancel sports across all divisions. Marzano offered the following memory of the day he had to tell his group of seniors that their season was over.
“One day you’re prepping for a game, and then you’re walking down the hallway into an emergency meeting to have the rug pulled out from under you,” Marzano said. “It was one of the saddest days of my coaching career watching what those men did for us and this program, and to have it all taken away.”
That memory is still fresh in Marzano’s mind and the mind of his team, and they look for it to serve as motivation.
The team’s goals this year, maybe unlike in years past, are changing day to day, week to week, and soon game to game. That feeling from losing it all last year hasn’t subsided in this team, and Coach Marzano shared with us that having a practice every day is a goal, and one they are thankful for.
However, it wouldn’t be like our men’s program not to give us another goal, and that is to go out and win every single one of their 13 games this season. A goal that, as Coach Marzano describes, will be led by a few key players, and a lot of new faces.
“You’re going to see a lot of new players, and that has made practice so exciting. You’re going to see us playing a little faster, and you’ll see a lot of guys step up,” Marzano said.
Aside from the new guys, Capital’s very own CJ Hughes is returning for his “fifth-year season,” and just like he has done in years past, looks to make a big impact. Alongside veteran Hughes, the men’s team added on a transfer by the name of Ben Houser, who has already stepped into a leadership role for the team.
These two gentlemens’ experiences are invaluable and quintessential to their success, as described by Coach Marzano.
The men’s program is slated for 13 games this season, with their opener happening on Feb. 27 at Wilmington University, while the women’s program is slated for 19 games with their opener coming this Saturday, Feb. 20 at Mount Union.
Both head coaches from the Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse programs took time to again say ‘thank you’ to everyone who has made this season possible. Coach Florence and Coach Marzano wanted the Capital community to know that their teams are forever grateful, and are determined to make us proud this year.