GENEVA — Aside from the blustery winds and frigid temperatures, spring was in the air Saturday afternoon on the grounds of Geneva’s sports-enthused college campus.
The William Smith lacrosse team played its long-awaited home opener against Liberty League opponent Bard. In the end, No. 18 William Smith pulled ahead early and won decisively, 19-4.
William Smith sophomore Sadie Mapstone, who attended Romulus High School and played lacrosse at Mynderse Academy, is grateful for the chance to live out her childhood dream in her hometown.
“I remember being in second grade and telling my best friend that I was going to play lacrosse for William Smith,” Mapstone said. “To have the chance to play for Coach (Anne) Phillips and these girls is amazing. It has surpassed every expectation that I had.”
Mapstone has learned a lot from her classmate Ellie Burns, and it has driven her to succeed.
“Ellie is one of the hardest workers I know,” Mapstone said. “She does so well on the crease. The ball always seems to find her stick and end up in the back of the net.”
“Sadie is such a grinder,” Burns countered. “Coach always calls her the garbage pickup because she always gets after the ball. In the off-season, she is my prime motivator. I need her by my side to improve and get through our workouts. It is a privilege to play with her.”
As Mapstone was quick to add: “More than any team that I’ve ever played on, we play not just for our school, we play for each other.”
William Smith (3-2) came into the matchup stinging from an 11-10 loss to No. 17 St. John Fisher Friday. After a string of four straight road games to begin the 2019 campaign — their scheduled home opener against Geneseo was postponed twice — the Herons were anxious to show off their skills at Boswell Field, albeit in front of a smaller-than-expected crowd due to the Upstate New York weather.
Burns, who tore her ACL and played all of last season in an ankle brace, looks at this year as one of liberation and potential.
“We are all learning to be gritty and tough together, and while it has been a learning curve because we all so young, we have a lot of fun together,” she said.
“I have never had a team that has been successful without having team chemistry,” Phillips said. “Talent alone is not enough.”
The maturation of youth will help determine how William Smith performs this season. The Herons feature 21 players on a roster of 26 that are either freshmen or sophomores.
Bizzer Gahagan is the lone senior on the 2019 roster.
Last season, the Herons were a perfect 9-0 at home, and were successful in building upon a recent track record of winning. The team has won three Liberty League championships in Phillips’ four seasons.
“We set some goals early on this season, and we’ve played some tough games already where we had a chance to score in the final seconds,” said Phillips, alluding to Friday’s final-minute loss to the Cardinals.
This current sophomore class was the first class that Phillips recruited — “and they are extremely selfless and have allowed me to set the expectations very high. With players like Sadie coming into her own and Ellie finding her stride, especially after overcoming a difficult injury, we can go far.”
Piercing through Saturday’s occasional snow flurries, Burns fired home a shot into the back of the net to give the Herons the first goal with 27:24 on the game clock. Burns accounted for three goals before the 15-minute mark in the first half, and garnered her fourth hat trick in five games.
The Herons had a 5-0 scoring run to open the contest on goals from sophomores Rachel Yackel (25:14) and Anne Murphy (20:40), and junior Katie Consoli (21:50), after Burns’ opening two scores. After Burns found the net at 17:33, Burns and sophomore teammate Delia Lawver gave the Herons a 7-1 advantage, scoring within 2 minutes of each other. Mapstone, a Geneva native, assisted Burns on her next goal, and with it the team led by 7.
The Raptors (2-2) had several opportunities on fast breaks coming out of face-offs, but were unable to convert after having a number of shots either hit the post or get blocked and covered up by sophomore goalie Jules Kennedy.
Junior Nicki Santora and freshman Lily Madden scored just before the break, and the Herons trotted into the locker room with a 10-1 lead. William Smith outshot the Raptors 20-5 in the first 30 minutes.
Coming out of the gates the Herons added an insurance goal off the stick of Mekayla Montgomery right before the Raptors went on a 3-goal scoring run to make it an 11-4 deficit. Freshman Payton McMahon got the Herons on the scoreboard once again at 20:30, sparking an 8-0 outburst to finish the contest.
“We did a solid job on not giving up 8-meter shots, and we really performed well in terms of ball control and offense,” Phillips analyzed. “This was a great way for us to respond and build some early-season confidence.”