SALEM, Va. (WROC) — Coming into this season, the Roberts Wesleyan women’s lacrosse team had never won a postseason game. Now, they’re in the NCAA Division II final four.
It’s been a season to remember for the Redhawks, who have been building to this moment for years.
“We’re excited to be here,” said head coach Kristin Paolini. “But we have to focus on not just being excited to be here but we want to play through the game. We want to make sure we’re here for the entire weekend.”
After suffering losing seasons in 2016 and 2017, the Redhawks went 9-9 in 2018 followed by an 11-6 campaign in 2019. They started off 4-1 in 2020, but that season was shut down due to COVID.
Wesleyan picked up right where they left off, going 14-1 this season. They won the ECC conference championship against Mercy College, earning them the number one seed in the NCAA East Region.
A 10-7 win over Bentley gave them a berth in the final four where they’ll take on Lindenwood on Friday night.
Not many people outside the Redhawks’ locker room saw this season coming, which is something they’re just alright with.
“I think we all kind of feed off of that, we like being the underdog,” said senior midfielder Taylor Nathan, a Gates-Chili alum. “Even though we accomplish more and more, people just continue to doubt us. We are just kind of thriving off of it and it’s motivating us and we just hope to keep pushing through it.”
One of the team’s mottos this season is “do you believe in us yet?”
“We’re kind of challenging the social media world and the doubters out there,” said Paolini.
“We just love to play for each other, we love to play for our coaches,” said Nathan. “It’s pretty fun to prove everyone wrong along the way.”
While being the underdog is nice, the hope is that this becomes a trend as the Redhawks build on their season into the future.
“I’m excited for the future of the program because it’s on the map and now teams are trying to play us and try and prove themselves,” said Paolini. “I’m hoping we can just continue beyond this year.”
Roberts Wesleyan plays Lindenwood Friday night at 7:00, with the winner reaching the championship game Sunday evening at 5:00.