When the Harvard women’s lacrosse team takes the field this Sunday in its season opener against No. 13 Stanford, there will be quite a few fresh faces in crimson. In total, 11 Crimson freshmen will make their collegiate debut.
And if Harvard is to contend in the Ivy League, its rookies will need to rise to the occasion.
This fact is not lost on the squad’s veterans, who expect the class of 2014 to play a key role from the get-go.
“People are going to be called on to step up no matter what class they’re in, no matter what game it is,” junior tri-captain Melanie Baskind said.
While such lofty expectations might trouble some rookies, the Harvard freshmen claim they are ready to contribute.
One rookie expected to make an immediate impact on the field this season is Jenn Leffew. An attacker and midfielder from Vero Beach, Fla., Leffew has already earned the admiration of her more experienced teammates.
“I love Leffew,” sophomore attacker Jennifer VanderMeulen said. “We work really well together. She sees the field fantastically. She knows how to finish the ball, and her whole field sense is great. She’s an amazing feeder, and that’s why I love her.”
VanderMeulen made an impact of her own as a first-year player, taking home the 2010 Ivy League Rookie of the Year award after leading the conference in goals. VanderMeulen is eager to see if Leffew can carry on the tradition this season.
“I already told her, ‘Leffew, we’ve got to keep [the Rookie of the Year title] in the family. I’m going to need to pass it down to you, so you better have a good season,’” VanderMeulen said with a smile.
If Leffew hopes to earn the title this season, she will need to make a quick adjustment to the collegiate game—something all of Harvard’s freshmen acknowledge as a challenge.
“The biggest transition was the pace, the speed of play,” freshman defender Alexa Buckley said. “It all took some getting used to, but the upperclassmen made the transition easier. They made us feel like we were a part of the team.”
With junior defender Chelsea Bowen nursing an injury, Buckley is expected to get a lot of playing time this season. She will be called upon to bolster the Crimson defense, and her teammates believe she is ready for the task.
“She’s definitely made an impact on the defense,” VanderMeulen said. “She’s one of those freshmen who is going to take a leading role.”
The potential for making an impact on the field is what made many of the freshmen choose Harvard over offers from other schools.
Freshman midfielder and defender Lauren Tomkinson passed up offers from Cornell and Penn to play for the Crimson. Tomkinson wanted the opportunity to be a part of the growing program under Harvard coach Lisa Miller. She and her classmates are happy with their choice to join the Crimson and have already developed a strong bond.
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