The end of the women’s lacrosse team’s first season


Kent State’s Dix Stadium.

Sean Fitzgerald

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The Kent State Women’s Lacrosse team is wrapping up its inaugural season.

It’s a cold, windy mid-April afternoon outside Dix Stadium, as puffy white clouds are scattered about the blue sky.

In years past, no one would be inside the stadium doing anything around this time of year. But now, the Kent State Women’s Lacrosse team is practicing on the clean turf field, emblazoned with the Flashes logo at midfield, with goalie nets set up in both end zones.

With lacrosse increasing in popularity in the U.S., Kent State is the latest Northeast Ohio school to add the sport, with Akron starting a women’s program next year, and Youngstown State in 2021.

It’s been a trying first season for the Flashes, having won only two matches with a roster of 24 freshmen and two sophomores. Though for midfielder Madison Rapier, she couldn’t be any happier about being on the team.

“Honestly, I’ve always, like, had a dream of playing D1 lacrosse ever since like freshman year of high school,” Rapier said. “And just like finding out Kent State was having a first-year program my freshman year of college was so exciting.”

Rapier and the other girls on the team were recruited very early on in their junior and senior years of high school. For Rapier, the call came out of nowhere.

“Honestly, I was really surprised because I was in a club game when my coach pulled me out and was like, ‘Hey, somebody’s on the phone for you. Like, they want to talk to you.’ And it was coach Tierney,” she said. “So I called her back and she was like, ‘I would love if you would come to play for me.’ I was… so excited. Like I was so surprised, and it was something that I had wanted for so long and it was happening. I was kind of just, like, in awe,” Rapier said.

Despite only having two wins and losing 11 games, the team is very close knit, and the players rely on each other to get through the rough times.

“Having so many people I can be close to … We kind of have a support system, so knowing that when we’re going through rough times, we always have somebody we can fall back on,” Rapier said. “And everybody has each other’s backs. It’s literally like a big sports system; we’re like a big family. We all love each other, and we can always lean on each other for all that support.”

Head Coach Brianne Tierney is another reason the girls have kept battling through the season and even has coaching roots that extend through her family to help her push through the adversity.

“There’s a number of people in my family who are in the coaching world,” Tierney said.

One of them is her husband, Cleveland State Men’s Lacrosse coach Dylan Sheridan.

“I grew up on a field,” Brianne said. My dad was the men’s lacrosse coach at Princeton University for a long time. Now he’s at the University of Denver.

As a woman head coach, Brianne said it has its ups and downs.

“But I think it’s how you look at it, and the challenges are also the great things that we’ll probably look back on in four or five years that we’ll laugh at,” Tierney said. “And I think there’s a lot of growth that we can get excited about. This is a good group. There’s no group I’d rather lose with, and certainly win with, but the wins are easy and I’m excited about the future of our 26 kids.”

Coaching a young team comprised of mostly freshmen players, her squad will have a big advantage over the competition in future seasons.

“I think that’s going to be the greatest part of it, Right? This freshman class, by the time they’re seniors, they’ll have more in-game experience as a group than any other team in the country,” Brianne said.

In this trying first season, having Brianne’s influence and support has been crucial for the young players such as Rapier.

“She has definitely been a rock on our team. She always has everyone’s back and … she never loses her love for the game,” Rapier said. “Of course, we’re a first-year team, we can have setbacks. We’re learning how to do everything and she’s always just there, always supportive, always ready for the next game, always ready to get better. She’s never getting down on herself or down on anyone.”

For now, the team continues to work through the remainder of its season as eyes begin to look forward to next season.

Sean Fitzgerald is a Kent State journalism student. Contact him at [email protected].