One often unmentioned and under-appreciated part of a lacrosse team, or any team for that matter, is the defense. This year, the defense of Pomona-Pitzer’s women’s lacrosse team, anchored by returning players Maddy Noble PI ’12 and Alison Kent PI ‘12, and newcomers Gianou Knox PI ’13, Claire Mueller PO ’13, and goalie Julia “Wallace” Behr PO ‘10, were unsure of what to expect as the season started. The defense was hit hard by the graduation of three key defensive players, leaving a young and somewhat inexperienced group to take up the reins.
Mueller, who started playing lacrosse for the first time at the beginning of the season in February, said, “The way we play now is completely different from the way we played in our first game. I didn’t even know what a slide was then.”
Fortunately for the team, Mueller’s speed and athleticism have allowed her to pick up the game quickly.
Each member of the defense felt she had the skills to succeed, but knew the group would need to come together as a team
“In the beginning, communication was a huge problem,” Kent said, “But as we practiced together more, we formed a tight-knit group of the four low-defenders and we learned to work together.”
Noble was also quick to point to first-year goalie Behr for her leadership.
“Wallace has stepped up significantly, not only as a goalie, but as a leader of the defense,” Noble said. “She has the ability to change the mentality of the defense when we need it most.”
With no prior experience as a goalie or even as a lacrosse player, Wallace said that when her friend and team captain Kira Watson PO ’10 first suggested that she should play for the team, she said, “No, that’s insane, I’m not an athlete!”
Wallace had not participated in competitive sports since early high school. But Watson finally convinced her to come to a practice during fall ball, and Wallace realized how much she missed being on a team.
At the time, the team was in desperate need of a goalie. Wallace agreed to try it out.
“Once I started, I never stopped,” Wallace said.
Learning to play was pretty rough. Her teammates said that one day Wallace wore a tie-dye shirt to practice and it matched her skin because of all the bruises she had accumulated.
“Getting better pads was crucial,” Wallace said. “Now I wear softball-catcher shin and knee guards. The learning curve was pretty steep; I still have a lot to learn, but as I learn more and get better, it becomes more fun. The team has always been very appreciative of me volunteering, and they always support me even if I’m sucking.”
The team is definitely appreciative of her presence, not only for playing in the goal, but also for the comic relief she provides.
“She’s hilarious. She makes practice really fun,” said Martha Marich PO ’12. “I don’t understand how other goalies aren’t amazing, because they’ve been playing for like 15 times longer than Wallace and she’s still better than them.”
Emily Haynes PI ’13 shared that Wallace’s first team goal was: “I wanna have some fire in the cage.”
On a more solemn note, Knox said the team is going to miss Wallace next year.
“We’re really sad that we only have her for one year,” Knox said.
Luckily, the rest of the defense will be intact next year —expect them work better together as a unit with an additional year of experience under their belts.