PEABODY — It’s always tough to take over a program as a first-time head coach. As a matter of fact, the only thing that could possibly make it tougher would be to take over a program as a first-time head coach with a roster full of brand-new players. Well, that’s exactly the situation that Bishop Fenwick girls lacrosse coach Lindsey Congdon found herself in this season.
Congdon, an Exeter, N.H. native and a 2017 graduate of Gordon College, had no prior head coaching experience before taking over the Fenwick program as she just finished up her own lacrosse career in the spring of 2017. She did have some experience in a coaching capacity as one of the instructors at Origins Lacrosse, an offseason skills camp for youth and rising high school lacrosse players directed by Gordon men’s lacrosse coach Warren Schumate.
“It’s just a lot of learning on both sides, for me and for the players,” Congdon said. “Obviously I used to play, so I still have more of a player’s mindset, but now I’m learning more of the coaching aspect of the game.”
That very thing may be what makes Congdon such a good choice to take over such a young Fenwick team. The Crusaders had 17 brand-new players on the team at the start of this season, returning only six players from the 2017 squad that went 12-8 and lost to Ipswich in the state tournament.
“It’s a bit of a tough balance, because you want to focus on building a team but you also want to make it fun for the newer players,” Congdon said. “Luckily, our players have demonstrated a lot of commitment to getting better and being a part of a team, so things have been off to a good start in that respect.”
Helping lead the way for the Crusaders are those six returning players, chief among them the three senior captains. Colbi Flickinger, Fran Carpinella and Brigid Waldron, all among the team’s top scorers, have helped Congdon teach the younger players some of the finer points of the game.
“They’re such a great asset for me,” Congdon said of her three captains. “We have sort of an open-door policy where they can come to me and let me know some of the things I can do to make our practices or our games more productive for our team. I couldn’t ask for a better group to have on and off the field.”
Other key contributors on this year’s team are senior Rachel Boylan, sophomore Cailyn Wesley and freshman Brynn Bertucci.
But, as with any young team on the rise, wins have sometimes been hard to come by. Fenwick is 3-8 this season and has had some trouble putting a consistent, 50-minute lacrosse game together.
Despite the tough start to the season and the dwindling likelihood of a state tournament berth, things are looking up for the Crusaders. They recently played one of their best games of the season, albeit in a loss to rival St. Mary’s, where they battled back from a five-goal deficit, forced triple overtime and had a couple of chances to win. That opened Congdon’s eyes to her team’s mental toughness and its unwillingness to give up in a game, and she hopes that attitude will continue.
“I was just very impressed with the way our team kept competing no matter what,” Congdon said after the St. Mary’s game. “There was just a ton of hustle and heart on both ends of the field today, and that will help us a lot going forward.”
Fenwick plays next against Arlington Catholic Monday.