MCLA adds women's lacrosse


Throughout high school, Rebecca M. Pike '15 of Troy, N.Y., (center, above) participated in one of the fastest growing sports in the country - women's lacrosse. With this week's announcement that MCLA added women's lacrosse to its Division III sports line up, this student-athlete - who also plays soccer - is enthusiastic about the opportunity to compete in both sports.

"I am very passionate about lacrosse and am very excited to start playing," Pike said. "It's an incredible game to play and watch - you can learn so much from it. Lacrosse becoming an official varsity sport for women is something I have been anticipating since my freshman year."

Pike's teammate on the soccer team, Natalie Caney '17 of Belchertown, Mass., (second from right, above) will join her on the lacrosse field.

"I love lacrosse because it has some of the same aspects as soccer," Caney said. "It's also fun to play with something other than a soccer ball. Using a stick is a challenge, and I love a challenge. I love that I can have a sport to play other than soccer. I wouldn't have chosen any other sport besides lacrosse."

Over recent years, a number of Berkshire County high schools have added lacrosse as a varsity sport. Popular across Massachusetts, many high schools in New York State also include lacrosse in their athletics programs. In fact, no sport has grown faster at the high school level over the last 10 years than lacrosse. It's also the fastest-growing sport over recent years at the NCAA level.

Like Caney and Pike, Kaitlyn Brown '16 of Adams, Mass., (far right, top photo) who attended Hoosac Valley High School, played lacrosse from her freshman to her senior year. At nearby Hoosick Falls Central High School, Rachel Green '17 of Petersburg, N.Y., (third from the left, top photo) also played lacrosse throughout her high school career.

"It is very exciting that we are an official sport," Green said. "We have all worked very hard to reach this step. Now that we are here, it feels very rewarding. Being on the lacrosse field is an unexplainable feeling. When we are out there it is like nothing else matters besides the game and our teammates."

"It means a lot that lacrosse has been added to the line-up, because we all really wanted it to happen," Brown added.

While Pike, Caney, Brown and Green are experienced lacrosse players, many of the 18 women that belong to MCLA's lacrosse club are first-time players.

"This club season is all about fundamental skill building as we elevate our presence in the MASCAC for 2014-15," said Kaylyn Smith, interim head coach of the women's lacrosse club.

The team's new coach, Dr. Maria Bartini, a psychology professor at MCLA, also is passionate about lacrosse. She, too, played the sport in high school. She went on to play NCAA Division I lacrosse at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., throughout her four-year undergraduate program.

"I discovered that lacrosse combined elements of both soccer and basketball, so I was hooked," Bartini said. "It's a fast-paced game with lots of scoring and running, which just fits with my high-energy personality. I'm very excited to have this new opportunity."

"I am very grateful that I get to play one more time before I graduate college and start a new chapter in my life," Pike said. "What better way to close my senior year of college than with the sport I love."

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