SCHENECTADY — The sky grew dark well before 4 p.m. Friday. Wind gusts reached speeds that made a large tree limb crack near Frank Bailey Field on Union’s campus during the women’s lacrosse game against St. Lawrence.
But senior attack Lindsay Gerrato said she would have played through anything, even a wacky upstate March blizzard. Sophomore Sydney McPartlon chimed in that a downpour wouldn’t have stopped her.
The Dutchwomen were the first Union intercollegiate team to compete in 380 days, and they were just ready to get out there and grab a season-opening win. And win they did, 18-14 over the Saints, the front end of a home-and-home series this weekend.
“To come out as a senior with a huge senior class that is ready to play and is ready to finish off strong, you couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season,” Gerrato said. “I think it’s going to be a really good one.”
Gerrato picked up where she left off last season, scoring a game-high six goals and adding an assist. Her seven points are a career high. Grace Heiting, McPartlon, Isabel Bush and Anna Smith had two goals apiece.
Union sports information director Steve Sheridan said the athletic department had been planning for the return of competition for months. It planned for fall, for winter, and for spring. When the Liberty League announced it would compete this season, it was a matter of now it knew it could officially plan to play.
Head coach Abi Jackson said there has been a certain amount of apprehension amongst the spring sport coaches since the Liberty League announced that it would return to competition this spring. Everyday came with uncertainty about who was still practicing, and whether team’s seasons were going to happen.
Then teams were “falling off the board,” Jackson said. Baseball’s doubleheader on Saturday at home against St. Lawrence was canceled, women’s tennis’ trip to Vassar on Saturday came down and so did men’s lacrosse’s trip to Trinity College on Sunday. Other teams began wondering where the other shoe was going to drop on them.
But, it never came for women’s lacrosse before Friday.
The men’s and women’s lacrosse teams were the last teams to compete for the garnet and black before life started to be altered by the novel coronavirus pandemic. It was March 11, 2020, the same day the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.
The women played four games, while the men got in five. McPartlon had two goals in that final game against Stevenson to bring her season. But that would be it for the Niskayuna graduate. The start to her four years was not at all what she expected, but has given her a new perspective.
“It’s unreal, really, given what’s going on in the world,” she said. “You never know what the next day’s going to bring, and getting to come out and play the game that we all love with people that we all love and support each other, it’s honestly the best scenario we could have this year for the entire team.”
Jackson is beginning her 11th campaign at Union. Usually a scouting report fanatic, focusing a lot of preparation around knowing the other team, this year she has made practices much more about her team learning its systems and skills and what they can control.
“The focus on them, I think, goes hand in hand with that mental stress that everybody’s sort of dealing with,” Jackson said, “and not having to worry about the outside things but this is what you’re working for, this is what you have been working for is this moment where you need to catch the ball or find the net or hit your teammate or win a ground ball or something like that.”
Jackson understands that this season comes with challenges on the periphery for her student-athletes, as well as her and her staff, that need to be kept in perspective when also working towards getting her team performing at its peak.
“It’s been a little bit of an emotional rollercoaster for the team and the staff, too,” she said. “We’re coming to practice and, if it’s a fitness day, we’re ready to get after them and have a really hard practice, but also remembering that people are stressed if someone they know tests positive thinking, ‘Should I go quarantine? Am I going to get pulled into quarantine?’ ”
Halftime score: Union led 9-5. St. Lawrence scoring: Wells 0-1, Silvia 4-1, Allan 2-1, Burke 1-1, Powell 5-0, Arakelian 2-2. Union scoring: Heiting 2-1, McPartlon 2-1, Cronin 1-1, Bush 2-1, L. Gerrato 6-1, Truini 1-0, Hultgren 0-3, Smith 2-0, Nelson 1-0. Goalies: St. Lawrence, Lynn, 11 saves. Union, Paszek, 5 saves.