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The Greyhound

The Greyhound

A Year of Adaptability, Resiliency, and Electricity On and Off the Field: The Women’s Lacrosse Team Looks Back on 2023 and Prepares for the Future

Hear from two Loyola women’s lacrosse players and the head coach as they share their perspectives on the past season and their hopes for 2024.
A+Year+of+Adaptability%2C+Resiliency%2C+and+Electricity+On+and+Off+the+Field%3A+The+Womens+Lacrosse+Team+Looks+Back+on+2023+and+Prepares+for+the+Future
Larry French

If you pull up the scores online from the 2023 Loyola women’s lacrosse season, you will find only a few losses in a sea of wins. Coming off of a triumphant season, these Greyhounds won their seventh Patriot League Tournament title and made it to the quarterfinals in the NCAA Tournament. The Hounds are reflecting on a successful season and are hoping to take this momentum into 2024.

Sydni Black ’24 has been playing in the attack position for her team this season. A substantial memory for Black was her team’s opening game against Johns Hopkins. It was her first time competing against Hopkins at Loyola and it was something she really enjoyed. This was also the team’s first win of the season, which set them up to begin on a high note. The Patriot League Championship holds significant value for Black as well.     

She said, “This [Patriot League Championship] win is a testament to the legacy we have at Loyola and an awesome coaching staff who gets us there and the ability to even play in that is awesome. Just being able to do this with an awesome group of people – those are memories I am going to have forever.”

As the head coach, Jen Adams cherished helping the team reach the elite eight once again. She admits that there were big shoes to fill from the season before, but that reaching top eight once more was an amazing accomplishment for her girls. She also marvels at how many competitors they had while fighting for the top-eight spot.    

She said, “There are 117 teams in Division I Women’s Lacrosse, and to be one of the last eight remaining, I think is truly remarkable. I think how distant of a realistic goal that felt like when we started out in the fall to where we are competing with the best in the country and feeling like we are on the cusp.”  

Despite all of the success, Adams believes the team had a lot of roadblocks throughout the season, but it only made them more resilient. A big obstacle was the vast number of injuries that team members experienced, especially the regular starters for games. Adams could call out five of those injuries off the top of her head. However, the injured athletes made the most out of their situation.  

She said, “The mentality and attitude of those injured players in really helping to lead this team and do it in a different way, not from just off the field, is a true testament to the leadership of this group.”

Logan Olmstead ’23, who has been playing defense for Loyola, agrees with Coach Adams that one of the biggest roadblocks was more injured players on the sidelines. Her sister, Haley Olmstead, was one of them, but it brought her joy to see her sister transforming as a teammate and as a person before her own eyes. Furthermore, Olmstead attributes the team’s success to all players whether with or without injury.   

She said, “They stepped up into a role maybe they were not expecting, but they stepped into roles that only added to who they are as people and as teammates and players, and I think watching that and experiencing that side from them contributed in more ways than, just reflecting back on the season, what we realized.”

Building on this, Black uses the terms “adaptable” and “resilient” to describe her team. Whether getting direct guidance from a coach, or just learning while on the field, her team was ready to absorb any experience. This willingness to learn is what Black believes got them their leverage.    

She said, “Mid-season, playing teams like Syracuse and Florida, we learned a lot about ourselves and learned a lot about where we wanted to be going on the rest of the season, which I think really helped us grow.” 

“Electric” is the word Olmstead uses to describe the team. This lightning bolt made them lightning fast when it came to the regular season games, but according to Olmstead, it is also what carried them through the post-season against schools like Northwestern, Fairfield, and Stony Brook. It is what made them want to win and have fun while doing so. Both in the weight room and on the turf they brought the electricity, and according to Olmstead, it shows in their performance.      

She said, “Coming off of such a successful last season, there is always kind of that question of, ‘Is it going to be like that this year?’, and I think after that summer and going into the season, the returners, the girls coming in, we all wanted that for each other. We had this electric sense of motivation, desire, and just excitement to be with each other and win games.”

Adams speaks to the fact that her team was not intimidated by the remarkable success of the previous season. They were looking to create not only a great year and legacy on their own terms, but also to create a name for themselves. Adams stated that after the record-breaking season in 2022, people were generally very focused on the great players that would be lost going into 2023. However, last season served as the greatest motivation, and Adams credits the captains for leading the way.  

She said, “This group stepped up and said, ‘We are going to create our own identity with the building blocks of this incredible culture that we have been left with. Let us continue to strive and make it better and let us do it our own way. We do not need to rest on the laurels of the people that have left here but let us step up and lead and take this team and its own identity and give it its own feeling and breath of life’.”

Furthermore, Adams emphasizes the culture at Loyola and feels pride in it, especially from within the lacrosse community. She looks at her athletes and sees women who, as she says, are bright and energetic. She sees their growth as people and recognizes that.          

She said, “As a staff, we pride ourselves on their ability to be obviously great lacrosse players but better people, incredible teammates, incredible friends, and they serve the community. They are just outstanding young women and collectively, you put 33 outstanding young women into a locker room together and good stuff happens.”

With as much praise as Adams has for the athletes, Olmstead believes that the support from the coaches can go unnoticed both inside and outside of lacrosse and takes a moment to acknowledge all of their dedication to her and her team. She also extends this gratitude to the staff, fellow athletes, as well as the students who bring the noise from the stands or even from watching the Northwestern game at places like Barley’s Backyard.

She said, “I think we would not be as successful as we are on and off the field without that support and love and comradery, and I think that is something not a lot of schools have.”

Olmstead proceeds to speak about how Loyola brings the support from outside of the games.  She references the awareness games she hosted with her teammates, and how people would click on the donation links the team provided and give to good causes. She sees a special community in Loyola, and makes it a point to recognize that. 

She said, “I think we have such a beautiful, supportive community at Loyola and it extends to every realm of life at Loyola whether it is clubs, student-athletes for social justice who then worked with Spectrum for the Loyola Volleyball Pride Game, or just with other faculty and clubs – we are such a community and our team does not take that for granted and we appreciate that so much.”   

Evidently, the field was not the only place these girls were winning. Adams expands on the team’s dedication to service and how they use lacrosse as their platform to bridge that gap. For example, she mentions the causes they played for like One Love, the Livestrong Foundation, Parkinson’s awareness, and they also had a game in support of sustainability. The girls also volunteered with Harlem Lacrosse, which is a non-profit that guides the academic pursuits of youth in challenging living situations. They also have the opportunity to learn different lacrosse skills.      

She said, “A lot of people are going to look at Loyola and gravitate toward reading articles, hearing about our stats, records broken, or games that are won. For all that you are going to read about them and the success and all the ways they are winning on the field is tenfold off the field, and that is what a lot of people do not get to see or hear and do not recognize about this group.”  

There are many words Adams would use to describe the 2023 season but overall, it was fun. She thinks of their trip to Northwestern that ended in a loss on the field but a win in building connections. Adams says it was one of the best trips they had together, and she loved watching the team live in the moment and just enjoy their time together.     

She said, “I think this is a group that loved being on the field practicing and they loved working hard in the weight room. They found fun and enjoyment and joy and passion in doing those things but doing them together.”  

“Competitive” is another word that Adams uses to describe the season. She believes they were not just competitive as lacrosse players, but also strived for their best in everything. That is something that stands out to Adams as a great quality in the team, as it has helped them in their previous accomplishments, and will give them even more strength in the future.        

She said, “They want to be the best students, the best people, the best lacrosse players, and that was very evident in how they painted this season each individually but brought that into everything they did and in a healthy way. I think that being able to have fun while being competitive is where we landed.”  

Be sure to come and pack the stands at Ridley Athletic Complex to cheer on women’s lacrosse in 2024. Next season’s schedule is yet to be announced, but you can keep up with the team all year round through their Instagram.

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