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These two look for three

The women's lacrosse team looks for a threepeat in the GNAC

By Shane Gorman
On March 9, 2012


When Coach Beth Van Parys tried to describe the Fitzpatrick sisters in one word, she found it impossible.

Mollie and Grace Fitzpatrick, from Falmouth, Maine, will be taking the field this spring as midfielders for the women's lacrosse team for the last time together.

 "It's great playing with my sister because we have so much fun together at practice and in the games," said Mollie Fitzpatrick, 21, a senior psychology major from Falmouth, Maine. "She's a really good lacrosse player so it's fun to watch and play with her.

"Playing on the same team with my older sister has been a plus because coming in as a freshman I was scared of a new different atmosphere," Grace said. "I look up to her in a way because she did it all on her own, but playing with her on the team really means a lot."

"They have a really solid relationship in terms that they are able to compete neck and neck with each other and go at it and get in each other's faces while being competitive,  but at the end of the day they're sisters and they love each other," said Van Parys, the third-year coach for the Cadets.

"Underneath it all, there is a little competition between us," Grace said. "Sometimes in practice we will push each other really hard to see how far each of us can go."

Though the sisters displayed matching cleats last season, they are easily distinguished.

"Our style of play is different and similar at the same time," said Grace, 19, a sophomore construction engineering management major. "I know what she wants to do and what she is going to do, so I will adjust to how she's playing and she will adjust to how I am playing."

"They both have their own individual flare and individual style with how they do things, like how they take their shots, how they hold their sticks and the type of dodges that they like to do," Van Parys said. "I think the biggest similarity you can see between the two is that they go hard and they play hard and they want to win, and they do whatever they can and they want to do whatever they can to be successful."

The sisters hope that this last season together will be a memorable and successful one.

The Norwich women's lacrosse team is aiming to win its third league championship as it starts the season playing against Emmanuel College on March 20 on the road, according to Mollie Fitzpatrick.

The team has been preparing all fall and winter, training hard for what the upcoming season has to offer .

"Pre-season workouts were a lot harder than they have been in the past," said Lori Baldassara, 21, a senior business major from Manchester, N.H. "We worked a lot on our footwork and leg muscles, and did constant workouts with very little time to rest."

"Our pre-season allows for a long period of time to develop strong team chemistry," said Meghan Kennedy, 22, a senior political science major from Lowell, Mass. "The team gets to do things like pool workouts and interval training that consists of different stations."

 "I liked how different each one was because we were never bored with the same routine," said Jill Balasco, 21, a senior criminal justice major from Barrington, R.I.

The team has been training for longer than the season will last, however it will help the team in the long run because every game is critical in such a short season, according to Kennedy.

New players were introduced to the team during the pre-season and have proved to be an asset.

"The team has a lot of new and young players so the biggest thing is probably developing an understanding of each individual's playing style," Balasco said. "Our underclassmen have a lot of talent and potential to really uphold the success of our program."

"We've got a few players coming in and we have a mix in experience and skill levels and we have some players who will be ready to step in immediately and be an impact on the field," Van Parys said. "Everybody in the freshman class is contributing to the team atmosphere and is doing a great job."

Now that the team is in-season, it is shifting focus from working out and conditioning to strategy and game situations.

"During the fall, it's a little bit more in an individual basis and getting some workouts and stick-skill stuff done," Van Parys said.  "We've started off with practice every day for five to six days a week, mixing a lot of conditioning and stick work and passing and getting into building in our defense right away and building the offense so we can be successful."

"We have been concentrating a lot on defense because it is really important in such a high scoring game," said Grace. "If we have good defense, then it will generate better offense for us and the scoring will come together."

Defense is important to any team's success in any team sport, and the position that sets the tone for the defense in lacrosse is the goalie, according to Grace.

"As a goalie, to prepare for games, I tell myself to stop every shot that comes at me. The more confident I am, the better I play," Kennedy said. "When I get scored on, I tell myself how I could have made the save, then move on and prepare myself for the next shot."

The women will have to stay focused and healthy during spring break because their first game is just three days after returning, according to Balasco.

 "We are going to be busy right away. We play on Tuesday the 20th at Emmanuel in Boston for a night game then we play on Wednesday and it's supposed to be a home game kind of TBA whether there is a change of venue," Van Parys said.

The team's ultimate goal is to come together to be one strong unit for the whole season, and to win its third league title in a row.

"We have won the championship in 2010 and 2011 and this year going into 2012 would be a possible third one in a row and that is definitely a goal for everybody. And the next step up is to perform even better than we did in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament's first round," Van Parys said.

Though this could be the third year of dominating the  Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC), the team is going to have to stay focused.

"We've got a strong group of returners coming back with a lot of leadership," Van Parys said. "They've experienced all those championships and what it took to get there. I think it's definitely exciting with the group that we have, the new players coming in."

"We have to work on staying together as a team when things start to get tough towards the end of season," Baldassara said. "We are such a close team that we need to make sure it stays that way until the last second of the final game."

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