Women's Lacrosse

Seniors Say Emotional Goodbye

April 27, 2007

This weekend the Massachusetts women's lacrosse team will close out another season. For the senior trio of Samantha Sepulveda, Lauren McCarthy and Erica Shapiro, it will be their last.

Sunday afternoon's game is Senior Day and the seniors want to end their UMass career with a win. UMass coach Alexis Venechanos will miss each senior for the leadership they show on and off the field.

"I think all three of them work together well because it brings something else to the program," Venechanos said. "I think each of them has improved since the beginning and they have all been getting better."

Making steps forward this season is the fifth-year goalkeeper McCarthy. She has had the longest tenure of all the players. McCarthy is a four-year starter and ranks second all-time in career saves with 430 saves.

"She's been through a lot personally with her injuries," Venechanos said. "She's seen the development of the program since day one."

McCarthy went through five knee injuries at different times through her career. The injuries have not kept her off the field as she has played in 55 career games.

"I had to sit all fall, it was the first time I had to sit and watch," McCarthy said.

She said it was one of her worst experiences because she felt that it was a setback for her. She also added that it was one of the best things that happened because she was able to see everything from a different perspective.

"I think she brings that mature sense to the team and she has tremendous respect for the program," Venechanos said. "I think a lot of the girls definitely look up to her on and off the field."

Being around for five years, McCarthy will find herself helping the coaching staff with scouting reports and instructing the team in practices. McCarthy started the year as one of the most experienced players on the team and when UMass hired Venechanos she knew she would learn a lot from the former Maryland goalkeeper.

"Having a goalie coach is amazing," McCarthy said. "I didn't really have one at all. Up until last year we did have Jen Nardi (Nardi played goalie for UMass from 1998 to 2001, and is the all-time leader in career saves with 600) come back and she worked with us a little bit, but I've never had one on one coaching goalie sessions every single day working on different things."

The trio will miss their teammates because they have been bonding and hanging out with the same people for almost four years. Day in and day out they practiced and competed.

"You get so used to having 25 girls around, [with] your friends around you every single day," McCarthy said.

McCarthy will continue to coach at lacrosse camps and is starting a new job after graduation in the Washington D.C. area for the Sam Adams Boston Beer Company.

Shapiro has battled back after tearing her ACL last year. The last two games Shapiro played the midfield for the first time in her career. She previously played three and half years as one of the team's top defensemen.

Shapiro has been a model student athlete for the team. Last season she earned a spot on the Atlantic 10 Academic All-Conference Team.

"I'm going to miss being with my best friends everyday at practice or games and seeing them all the time," Shapiro said. "I'm going to miss the competition of games and the excitement of it."

"She brings a lot of passion to the game," Venechanos said. "She definitely wears UMass on her sleeves everyday [and] she does anything for the team."

She scored her first career goal last week against St. Bonaventure. She also recorded a career high with two assists against Duquense.

"I've had a lot of fun playing midfield because I did score my first goal the other day," Shapiro said. "It's new, once you get to senior year you've been doing it for a long time so things become routine and it's nice to still be learning as you go out."

Shapiro is going to work in a financial development program in North Reading.

Samantha Sepulveda is one of the fastest players on the team. Known to her teammates as Sammy, she is one of the vocal leaders on the team. At midfield Sepulveda ranks third all-time in career draw controls with 76 and is seventh all-time in career ground balls with 92.

As a freshman she was just an average student, but she has progressed as a senior by posting the highest GPA on team.

"She's a spark plug, [she] brings a lot to our team that we don't have, she's really intense, she's fast," Venechanos said about Sepulveda.

Her biggest accomplishment in her career at UMass is the excitement of winning big games. This season, the best win for her was at Boston College. The Minutewomen won in overtime, 10-9. Sepulveda picked up four groundballs in the victory.

Even with all the exciting wins and the competitive games, Sepulveda will miss her teammates the most.

"[I will] definitely [miss] the team and definitely the fact that you go out there every single day and forget about school, forget about every problem, you just step on that field and it's just lacrosse and your teammates around, that's it, that's the only thing that matters," she said.

After graduation Sepulveda is going to take some time off and travel. In September she is going to have a job in business management in New York. She will continue to work in lacrosse, coaching at camps in the summer. She still plays lacrosse in a pick-up games.

The senior trio wants to win the next two games, but not just to win for themselves, they want the success to carry over for next year.

Steve Games can be reached at sgames@student.umass.edu.




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