BIDDEFORD, ME- UNE women’s lacrosse team has made it through a hardship of struggles in the 2019 season, only to prepare them for what the upcoming 2020 spring season will bring to them. They are hungry and ready to win as they start strong.
University of New England’s women’s lacrosse head coach Sue Estabrook is moving into her 20th season as a collegiate head coach as she leads her team of twenty-six into their upcoming spring season. Estabrook and the team faced an abundance of challenges during the 2019 season, as she was going through chemo to beat her breast cancer. Captain Anna Stowell said they definitely struggled not having their head coach with them one hundred percent of the time but they didn’t want that to “reflect how they played or practiced as a team”.
There was a lot of weight put onto the assistant coaches Gina Newsome and Jackie Lingyak as Estabrook had to take time off from practices to rest. “Jakie and Gina both stepped up hugely and it really was a whole team effort,” said Stowell. The assistants handled the pressure very well and were able to delicate practices and lifts between the team. “They both really stepped up to the plate and did well, and didn’t hesitate to be one of the ones to run practice” sophomore Nicole Corriveau said. All the coaches were able to communicate with Estabrook after practice about what they did and what their plan would be for the next practice.
Estabrook, in her now 19th season as the head coach of the women’s team here at UNE, was able to communicate from home with the other coaches to plan and perform practices when she was unable to make it out of the house. Unfortunately for the team, Gina will not be returning to the 2020 season with the girls, but new assistant coach Erica Letellier will be stepping into her place.
Erica is the product of Biddeford schools and has coaching experience in the past. The entirety of the team was challenged with saddening news of coaches cancer that also affected everyone that cared for Estabrook, as it was hard to go through practices without their head coach.
The hours that the team put in for not only their lifts and practices but also the caretaking and heartfelt communication with the coach are uncountable. The team pulled together ten total wins out of their eighteen games 2019 season. As the team sat 6-2 in the conference, Stowell stated that “Last [season] we learned what mental toughness was, we learned how to rely on each other no one could tell us how to do what we do”.
The wins that the girls got were able to bring them into the playoffs as they faced teams that had very similar competitiveness. “It was difficult being in a leadership position,” stated Stowell talking about how they made it to the CCC, “but everyone working as a team put everyone in the same boat”.
The girls were able to make it to the Commonwealth Coast Conference semifinals as they won against Salve Regina with a whopping 26 to 10, moving them on where they lost a very close game to Roger Williams 16 to 14. If they had won the game against Roger Williams they would have made it to the finals to play against one of the top teams in the league, Endicott. As it was frustrating and sad to lose in the semifinals the girls still proud of themselves for making it so far with such a hard build-up of a season. They are looking into a stronger 2020 season, as it is quickly approaching.
The girls are moving forward with Estabrook and returning captain Anna Stowell, followed by her two new partners Casey Conwell and Molly Comelo.
After losing six seniors, the team is looking stronger than ever, coming back with nine incoming freshmen on the team. “[T]otally fresh, talented”, said Stowell about the new players coming on to the team, “it’s like a breath of fresh air”. As well as Estabrook being happy and healthy back with the team for every practice. The girls will start their 2020 season off with their first game against Saint Josephs on March 1st here in Biddeford on the Blue Bolt Field. The season has come about fast, but the girls are eager and ready to take on all the challenges the 2020 season brings their way. As Stowell said, “I am very excited to see where this season goes, we have a much stronger mentality, we have seen it so much worse and we are excited to see what we can do with what we have”