After her first year coaching the Eastern Michigan University’s women’s club lacrosse team, head coach Erin Maturo has learned more of what to expect from the team but is still preparing for next year.
“I was just hoping to learn as much as I could about the team, the school/club life, and prep for the following season,” Maturo said about her expectations. “I’d say we almost met expectations, but I’m learning and so are the girls.”
While she doesn’t have much time under her belt with the team, she’s been observant.
“I gathered that the girls were much more focused on making the program a staple on campus and in our division,” Maturo said.
The Eagles were unable to play teams like Michigan State University or the University of Michigan but they did see some competition.
“We played Oakland University and they are a powerhouse,” Maturo said.
The team wasn’t loaded with players so any type of rest was welcome when it came to competition time.
“Lineup changes were minimal because we only have 14 members, but I’d say the nicest thing was being able to move people into midfield positions even if that wasn’t their ‘thing’ because we simply didn’t have any subs to give them a break,” Maturo said.
“Instead we would just swap positions on the field to give each other a quick rest.”
Even with the rests, or lack thereof, Maturo notes that the lacrosse members always stayed strong.
“Well, Courtney [Berry] and Naomi [Harwood] worked their butts off as captains/ managers,” Maturo said. “But really props go out to every girl for being up super late for practices, for practicing in a gym when the bubble/Bowen weren’t available. We are really good at rolling with the punches and ‘making it work.”
One of the obstacles the team will have to face is the loss of half of its already small squad.
“I mentioned Courtney and Naomi, but Jamilia [Brown] has some wicked speed, Nicole [Neveaux] is sweet in goal, Mana [Saito] is back in Japan, Madoka [Kondo] is so quick, and Asani [Palamaru] is awesome all around. These ladies set the tone of the team and set the bar high for fighting for what you want,” Maturo said.
Maturo plans to counteract this loss with the recruitment of more players. With opportunities like Fajita Fest this September, the team is looking to replenish its losses and even go beyond. Maturo is working to connect with many high school coaches to increase awareness about the team.
“Putting the word out has been a big part of drawing interest,” Maturo said. “We don’t have cuts, and if you pay your dues, you’re on the team. The commitment level is high and I expect to see players at every practice and every event, but the reward is more than worth it.
Maturo said current and prospective members should be using their summer to get in shape for the next season.
“It is always difficult, as a coach, to teach skills if everyone isn’t in top shape,” Maturo said. “We were ok on our fitness, but with limited practice times this winter/spring, it’s all on the individual to come in ready to rock for fall ball!”
Maturo even expects the team to join her in Ann Arbor where she coaches a high school club team and assist with coaching and scrimmages.
“I know EMU can be a competitor in the WCLA and it will take work, but the time is now,” Maturo said.
Follow Raven Gardiner on Twitter: @R_Gardiner14