A year after losing the MASCAC, James Rippey and the Framingham women’s lacrosse team are back.
With 30 seconds remaining in last year’s MASCAC Championship game against Westfield State, the Rams allowed a goal that ended the match 13-12 and left fans and players shocked and stunned.
“When the final whistle blew, I think I personally was just kind of in a state of denial. I just felt like it should’ve been ours and was a tough one to swallow,” Senior Captain Grace Gamache said. “The loss definitely hurt for days to follow and still does. I kept replaying the game over and over, thinking of “what ifs” and if I could’ve done more.”
But on Feb. 22, the reigning MASCAC Regular Season Champions will have a shot to redeem themselves.
Led by Gamache, who has set a handful of records the last couple of seasons, the Rams are already getting ready.
“We have definitely been doing what we need to do in the off-season to get ready for this spring. Girls are constantly in the gym either running, playing wall ball, shooting around, or getting a lift in,” Gamache said. “Everyone came into this semester ready for the season and ready to compete, and I think that all starts in the off season. We are a new team and it’s a new season, so we are all very excited about that.”
Framingham brought in some new faces this year in the form of 10 freshmen. The new additions have bolstered the team’s offensive depth, and by bringing in keeper Alexis Burleigh, they now have a second option in net with the departure of previous starter Indigo Fox Tree-McGrath.
“We have a great freshman class that can step up and fill the roles of the seniors we lost,” Gamache said.
Along with the incoming freshmen, there are many key players returning this year, mainly the team’s four captains.
The four leading the team into the new season are Gamache, Nicole Pacheco, Jenna McMahon, and Casey Bradley.
Gamache, who has been on the team for four years, set two school records last year, holds 12 in total, and is tied for one. She also became one of two players in MASCAC history with fifty-plus goals and assists in the same season her sophomore year.
“Grace has certainly been one of the top players in the MASCAC since she stepped foot on campus freshman year. Her first year she was asked to do a lot individually and we didn’t have a complete group on the offensive end who could create, distribute, and score like we do now,” Head Coach James Rippey said. “Last year, we had more players emerge on the circle for us and we didn’t have to use her as much there. We were able to increase her role as a playmaker and distributor because we had more players step up who could finish in the biggest moments of the season.”
Pacheco follows right behind Gamache with five school records. And just like Gamache, she is entering her first season as a captain.
“Being a captain is truly an honor. We have such a great group that makes being a captain fun,” Pacheco said. “It’s also so crazy to think that four years ago, I was looking up to my captains. So, to think a group of dedicated girls are doing the same to me is a pretty good feeling.”
Along with them, Casey Bradley is entering her second season as a captain as she looks to continue holding down the defensive side of the field. Jenna McMahon is aiming to join Gamache and Pacheco on the offensive side for another year, as the three have combined for 332 points over the last two seasons.
Gamache, Pacheco, and Bradley – along with Jennifer Buckley, Morgan Begley, and Emily Burnett – are all seniors this year, so this is their final shot at the MASCAC.
“This senior class has worked tirelessly on and off the field since their freshman year in shaping this program,” Rippey said. “We’d all love to see them go out as MASCAC tournament champs and earn the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament berth.”
“This team is looking like MASCAC Champions. We are all competitors and I know that we are all striving for this as a goal. We compete day after day, wake up early, and push ourselves to be the best FSU Lacrosse team,” Pacheco said. “I’m beyond excited to have one last ride here as a part of the FSU Women’s Lacrosse team. It’s going to be quite the performance for you all to come watch.”
And with the season quickly approaching, the championship loss last year is fueling the team for another run at the title.
“We definitely have some unfinished business to take care of and I think we are ready for the challenge,” Gamache said. “The one-goal loss really stung, and I think stayed with everyone for a while. That loss is in the back of all of our minds, and it is giving everyone a little push because we don’t want to experience that again.”