Women’s lacrosse prepares for 2023 season with high expectations


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Brian Bloom, Staff Writer

Grand Valley State University women’s lacrosse secured the GLIAC Championship for the second season in a row last season, but would fall in and the NCAA DII Midwest Regional Championship.

Despite this, the team was able to reflect on a record-breaking season that saw them boast a 19-2 record, the most wins in a season in the program’s history.

“(The Midwest Regional) was a hard battle, we left everything out on the field,” said senior co-captain Molly Bursinger. “We proved something last season even though it ended in a loss. It showed us that we have the potential to be a national championship team.”

Coming into this season, the team has lofty expectations and the recognition from preseason polls to back their confidence.

GVSU was ranked No. 1 in the GLIAC preseason poll, No. 5 in the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) and No. 5 in the USA Lacrosse Magazine poll and boasts five preseason All-Americans: Bursinger, juniors Aislynn Alkire (co-captain) and Audrey Maloney, senior Shae Strehl and graduate student Maggie Hammer.

With the hype that is being built during the offseason, Head Coach Mackenzie Lawler has her team more motivated than ever to build off what was started in recent seasons.

“We want to lead the conference, that’s our base level goal, but (we want to know) what more we can achieve this year,” Lawler said. “We faced some adversity with a couple of players out with COVID, and this team is really hungry to prove that we deserve the number five ranking and get to the Final Four.”

Alkire said the loss to UIndy in the regional match, the team that dealt them their only two losses last season, fueled a fire under the team while also allowing them to create a stronger identity.

“Every team dreams of winning the national championship, (and) last season showed us that we are capable, we have the talent we need, and it showed us that we’re way closer (to championship contention) than we thought,” Alkire said.

Trying times can bring a team much closer, and the Lakers realized all opportunities while on and off the pitch bring strong team chemistry into a new season.

“Year after year we’ve had different challenges that have brought us closer together,” Hammer said. “This year our fire is the drive and trust we have in each other and ourselves, and the confidence that we can compete for a national championship.”

However, the road to success is never guaranteed and the first stretch of games will be tough for the Lakers to get through as four of their first six games are against ranked opponents – including a rematch against UIndy.

Despite the tough schedule, Lawler’s philosophy going into the season is much the same as last year, only this time the squad has deep postseason DNA.

“Last year was such a record-breaking year, winning the most games in a season, the most in a row, winning the regular season and conference tournament and getting that first NCAA win,” Lawler said. “Our team knows the steps we had to make last year to achieve that and have been really focused on wanting to make that next step and get to the Final Four.”

Bursinger said the team strives to be elite and has bought into the culture Lawler and assistant coach Nora Boerger have built since taking over the program five seasons ago.

“The team we have now compared to when I started four years ago is astronomically different,” Bursinger said. “Coach (Lawler) coming in and building the culture has been unbelievable. We have our team pillars of elite; we want to be an elite team and every player to be elite. Every player on the team has bought into that.”

GVSU is preparing to face Flagler College and Rollins University this week (Feb. 16 and 18) and the team is ready for the action.

“Flagler and Rollins have both already played two games, so we’re trying to prepare for game situations,” Lawler said. “We’re confident. We’re practicing against players on the number five team in the country, so it’s a really competitive practice environment.”


*Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:57 p.m. Feb. 13, 2023 to fix an error that originally stated the team lost in the 2022 GLIAC Championship.