Montclair State Women’s Lacrosse Hopes To Capitalize Off Historic 2021 Season

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Published February 9, 2022
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The Montclarion
Senior defender Katherine Yarusso is one of the team's key returners this year. Corey Annan | The Montclarion

After coming off of one of the best seasons in its program’s history, the Montclair State University women’s lacrosse team is hoping to seal the deal with a championship in 2022.

Just last season, the Red Hawks finished with an overall record of 8-1, an undefeated regular season for the first time in program history. The only loss for this team came from The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) championship game in a crushing 16-6 defeat at home.

The Red Hawks led the NJAC in fewest goals allowed and turnovers caused. Corey Annan | The Montclarion

The Red Hawks led the NJAC in fewest goals allowed and turnovers caused.
Corey Annan | The Montclarion

Despite the loss, this program had reached a level of success in 2021 that surprised many. Montclair State won the NJAC regular-season championship for the first time in school history and their 2021 NJAC Title game appearance marked their first since 2017.

Although the NJAC trophy was not captured, Montclair State still had some accomplishments to be proud of. Perhaps the most notable one was actually beating TCNJ on April 3, 2021. For the first time in school history, the Red Hawks ended a 22-game losing streak to the Lions with a 10-9 victory.

Senior attacks Rhiannon Brown & Kaitlyn Arcede celebrate a goal scored. Corey Annan | The Montclarion

Senior attacks Rhiannon Brown and Kaitlyn Arcede celebrate a goal scored.
Corey Annan | The Montclarion

Senior attack Rhiannon Brown is returning for her fifth season with the team. She spoke on what it was like to win the game.

“Beating TCNJ last year in the first game was one of the most amazing moments in my entire lacrosse [career],” Brown said.

The Red Hawks will begin the 2022 season ranked No. 19 in the Nike / USA Lacrosse Magazine Top 20 poll. Last season, the team finished 18th in the final poll.

Montclair State is set to open the regular season at home on Feb. 26 as they host Haverford College at 1 p.m. Their first NJAC contest will be against No. 11 ranked TCNJ on April 9, a highly anticipated rematch from last season’s title game.

Losing players such as perennial all-conference star Megan Mahlstadt and All-Americans Brittany Costigan and Meghan Gorman will be tough to replace, but many key pieces are still intact.

“A lot of our base is still there so my expectations are pretty high and I still think we can compete at the level we were able to last season,” Brown said. “And (we) can be as successful and even more successful because we still have the strong base that we had last season as well as a fresh group of transfers and freshmen who are equally competitive.”

This year’s squad is arguably just as talented as last season, and that might bring certain expectations considering they ranked second in the conference in goals per game with 14.5 and also finished first in the conference in assists per game with 7.8 just one year ago.

Junior midfielder Amber Gonzales scored four goals in the Red Hawks historic victory over Stockton. Corey Annan | The Montclarion

Junior midfielder Amber Gonzalez scored four goals in the Red Hawks historic victory over Stockton University.
Corey Annan | The Montclarion

With senior midfielders Amber Gonzalez and Tristin Konen still on the team, they shouldn’t have any issues finding the back of the net. Konen is coming off a monster season, having scored 32 goals, which lead the team that season.

Players such as Brown and Gonzalez were vital to last season’s success. However, the two of them might see an increase in opportunity in terms of scoring goals with Mahlstadt being gone.

To top that off, the Red Hawks are led by head coach Nicol Parcelluzzi, who is the all-time most winningest coach in program history. This upcoming season will be Parcelluzzi’s 17th season, holding an overall record of 170-85.

Defensively, senior Katherine Yarusso (12 ground balls and eight caused turnovers in 2021) will headline this defensive unit that will be looking to replace Gorman’s leadership and clutch play. Another player to look out for will be sophomore Cristina Torsiello, who won NJAC Defensive Rookie Of The Week last season.

Senior defender Kaitlin Zazzaro, who is returning to the program after a year hiatus, spoke about how talented the team really is.

“Everyone on our team can play really well,” Zazzaro said. “No matter who is in, it’s going to work. You can throw anyone in and you know that they are going to go out and do their job.”

Tristen Konen scored 32 goals last season, tied for second in the NJAC.

Tristin Konen scored 32 goals last season, tied for second in the NJAC.
Corey Annan | The Montclarion

Last year’s tournament run is only going to help this season’s chances even more. Now that the Red Hawks have more experience in bigger games, they are as confident as ever. Konen reflected on last season and how she plans to move forward.

“Playing in the NJAC tournament was a great experience,” Konen said. “Every game we had to give 100% to keep the season going. The season didn’t end the way we had hoped it would (but) watching [TCNJ] celebrate the championship win on our home turf left me the drive to want to work harder and be even more competitive this season.”

As the season inches closer, it’s only a matter of time until we get to see how great this Red Hawk team can truly be.

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