Injuries make room for new players on women’s lacrosse roster

W&L’s 11th-ranked women’s lacrosse team has recruited new players as injuries continue to plague the team


Adele Petagna, Sports Writer

The 11th-ranked women’s lacrosse team has had a whirlwind season after competing in the NCAA Final Four last spring. But now, the the team is facing unexpected adversity.

Team members have battled several injuries this season, including ACL tears, sprained ankles and back pain.

It seems to be a streak of bad luck for the team, considering that players specifically do ACL strengthening and other injury prevention during pre-season and beyond, according to attacker Rebecca Welford, ‘19.

Wellford said the injuries have given other players who usually wouldn’t get the chance to play the opportunity to step up and prove themselves.

Even W&L soccer players and swimmers are making it into the lineup.

Soccer goalie Leeann Passaro, ’20, and swimmer Bridget Bartley, ’21, were recruited by the lacrosse coach, Brooke O’Brien,  to be backup goalkeepers. Two out of the team’s three goalies suffered injuries that would put them out for the rest of the season.

Passaro said the process of joining the team happened quickly, and that she was excited and willing to help when she heard the team needed players.

Passaro’s soccer coach, Neil Cunningham, helped facilitate the transition to the lacrosse team.

Though this season is her first time playing a sport other than soccer at W&L, Passaro said she has always been involved in sports, and has played almost all of them. When she had to decide which sports to devote her time to before college, Passaro chose basketball, lacrosse and soccer.

While soccer always remained her top priority, she said she enjoyed lacrosse when she played in middle and high school.

She admitted she tried to be a lacrosse goalie on her high school team, thinking that it would be like being a soccer goalie.

But she said the net was a lot smaller and the balls come a lot faster. Back then, she said she “kind of hated it.”

Passaro said she laughs looking back on that time because of the situation she’s in now and the fact that she is really enjoying her role on the lacrosse team.

“My new teammates are awesome and so supportive,” Passaro said. “Whenever I make a save, they get really excited. They also give me little tips, words of encouragement or help inform me of all the new and complicated rules of lacrosse. I’m really grateful for their energy and kindness.”

She went on to say how helpful O’Brien has been during this process.

Passaro has not taken on the role as the team’s starting goalie, but is eager to help when she is needed.

“My role on game days is to warm up, help Elliot Gilbert (’20) prepare in any way I can, and then be a cheerful teammate throughout the game,” Passaro said. “Elliot has been trying to limit the pain in her back, so I’m there to rotate in and take some of the burden off of her.”

Passaro played 5 minutes and 39 seconds during her lacrosse debut in the Generals 23-2 victory over Shenandoah University on March 28.

Whether Passaro will continue her membership on the lacrosse team after this season is up in the air. She says it is difficult to balance soccer, school and sleep, so she is not sure if she has the time. However, if everything works out, she said she would love to take on the lacrosse player title.   

Bartley and Passaro have fit in well with their new teammates, Wellford said. She said they have been “helpful, positive and overall really courageous” to join a new sport mid-season.

Most recently, the team decisively defeated Lynchburg College 24-9 on April 3, led by Jess Castelo, ‘18, with six goals and five assists. Time in goal was split by Gilbert, ‘19, and Hannah Wiltshire, ‘18.

The Generals will return to action on Saturday, April 14 when they host Guilford College at 1 pm.