Story is a tylertrumbauer.com exclusive as an extension of Trumbauer’s coverage of Edinboro women’s lacrosse for the Edinboro University Spectator.
Before the 2015 campaign head women’s lacrosse coach Kevin Cooke said that making the playoffs is how one builds a program. He hoped that this season would be the one where Boro broke through, qualified for the PSAC playoffs for the first time and really established itself as a fierce program, competing in arguably the toughest conference in the nation.
Things looked to be going according to plan in the first month of the season as the Scots were off to the best start in school history. After that, it was all downhill.
Boro started off 4-1, better than any team before, and stretched their success all the way to 6-2 before turning the calendar to April. However, the ladies went winless, 0-7, in the month of April, coupling that with their loss to Indiana (Pa.) on March 31, the team ended the season on an eight-game losing streak.
“We played against good teams,” Cooke said. “The PSAC, I may be a little bit biased, is probably one of the strongest top-to-bottom conferences. If you look at just this past weekend, with Slippery Rock, they beat Mercyhurst. That is not supposed to happen. Anyone can beat anyone on any given day.”
This tale of two halves was mainly due to a back loaded scheduled. Cooke’s crew started off with three non-conference matches against Newberry College, Alderson Broaddus, and West Virginia Wesleyan. Boro won all three by a combined score of 50-19 and those three teams finished with a combined record of 18-27. The Scots’ other three victories were against Shippensburg, Kutztown and Millersville, who finished in the bottom three of the PSAC standings.
The team’s eight-match losing streak to conclude the season included facing four nationally-ranked teams and one that regularly received votes in the national poll. Additionally, the Scots’ other loss came to Lock Haven, the second-ranked team in the nation.
The second reason behind the late-season struggles was injuries. Boro was without sophomore standout Cydney Hrycko for a handful of games and Alexa Healy was sidelined for a few matches as well.
“You think that the preparation we had early in the season, playing some teams that we did have success against would carry itself through the rest of the season and it didn’t,” Cooke added.
Although the standings show that Edinboro finished 6-9 overall and 3-9 in the PSAC, there were plenty of positives this season.
Starting goalkeeper Paige Skinner stormed onto the scene, replacing Autumn Held, who decided not to return this season. Skinner stepped into the starting role and began every match for Boro between the pipes. She did it well, too, boasting a 12.47 goals against average, the 12th best in the PSAC.
“She kept us in games,” Cooke said about the Jamesville, New York native. “Even the games that were relatively lopsided in the score, she kept us in those games. You look at Mercyhurst, you look at IUP, she is what kept us in those games. Defense, we talked to them about where to force the shots, and they did their role. Then Paige did hers, saving the ball.”
Additionally, junior attack Becca Martin continued her dominance from last season. Martin finished 2015 with 56 assists, the second most in the PSAC this season, and with 70 points, third most in the conference.
In Boro, Martin broke her own single-season assists record and became the all-time points leader in program history.
Additionally, according to Cooke, Martin grew as a leader as well.
“This year was a great year for her from August until May in growing a leadership philosophy. It’s not that she didn’t have it [before], but now it is coming out,” he said. “She developed that philosophy of how she wants to lead, and it is good that she did that as a junior.”
The squad loses only two seniors, Alayna Davis and Samantha Tomasic, from this year’s group. All of the regular starters should return, leaving plenty of room for growth and optimism for next season.
“We just came back from the hall of fame banquet and one person said it right. If you think that you got tomorrow and you have forever, you don’t. You have four years to play here and that’s it,” Cooke said. “You can’t sit there and have the ‘would’ve, should’ve, could’ve mentality.’ If you want it you have to go out and take it. There were times this season when things didn’t go our way and how we react to that needs to change. I hope in the offseason the players reflect on that.”
“We can’t just be content with the result of something,” Cooke continued. “Somebody else has to step up. If someone gets injured, someone else has to step up. The hope is that with the loss of only two seniors our depth will get better and if our depth is better than that process of stepping up will be better.”