The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Old vs. New: Men’s and women’s lacrosse host alumni game

4 min read
Four girls in lacrosse gear smile.

From left to right: Katie Blair, Ashley Firesheets, Clare Madden, Maria Schneider. | Grace Schumacher, The Weekly Ringer


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On Saturday, Sept. 24, the UMW men’s and women’s lacrosse teams went head-to-head with graduated players at their alumni scrimmage games. An annual tradition going on six years, with the exception of 2021 due to COVID-19, the exhibition marks the unofficial close of the fall ball season. 

Typically held in mid-October, alongside Fredericksburg’s Oktoberfest and other downtown activities, the event was pushed up in order to accommodate the returning alumni.

“The two teams have such a close bond,” said Maya Levin, a class of 2022 alumna. “It’s so great that we are able to share this experience together.”

The game does not count towards either team’s season record, similar to the other intra-team scrimmages held throughout the fall ball season, but still presents a good opportunity for players to practice skills, plays and working with each other on the field. 

Spectators at the Battleground Complex saw the current men’s team fight to claim victory over the alumni in an intense and fast-paced game, with the current team coming out on top 11-9. Men’s Assistant Coach Tyler Houston graduated from UMW in 2016 and played with the alumni team.

“As a team, we were practicing on tempo as an offense and defense,” said junior business administration major John Staugaitis. “We have a lot of new, offensive talent that are learning the system and working on creating camaraderie within the offense.”

The women’s team took a different approach to their scrimmage. Rather than keeping an official score, the women prioritized a more laid-back gameplay, taking full advantage of the opportunity to spend time with their graduated teammates. 

However, their competitive spirit was still present. Smack talk floats from the sideline, clashing with the lyrics of Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” blasting from a large speaker. Players seem to run on and off the field every other minute, subbing out to catch a breather. 

“I haven’t picked up my stick since my last season,” said 2022 alumna Natalie Critelli. “But we showed the girls we still got it!” 

While not all alumni played, they still took the opportunity to attend in order to support their fellow players and the program they played for during their time at UMW.

“I think it really speaks to the relationships and bonds that are built on this team,” said the men’s lacrosse Head Coach Drew Delaney.

Following the conclusion of their respective games, the men’s and women’s teams came together to celebrate their alumni at a tailgate hosted by the players’ families. This leg of the tradition allows the players to make new connections and meet past players before their time. 

“It is always fantastic to reconnect with the alumni, as well as their families, and meet new alumni that come out to the game,” said Staugaitis. “It is a great opportunity for underclassmen to form new relationships.” 

Undeclared sophomore Micaela Burneo was not only able to catch up with her recently-graduated friends, but also forged new relationships with alumni.

“I had the chance to meet some of the older players for the first time!” said Burneo. “I loved that they were able to offer insight into life after college, too.”

Sam Pugliese, an alumnus from the class of 2022, reflected on his return to Mary Washington. 

“I had a really good time with all those guys back when we played together, some of them I played with for two, three years,” said Pugliese. “It’s really nice to see everyone reconnect.”

While this was both the men’s and women’s sixth alumni game, the respective events were not merged until a couple of years ago.

“We’ve built the tradition in the past two years of doing this with the women’s lacrosse team as well,” said Delaney. “We want to try and bridge some of the other relationships we have.”

In past years, there has been a considerable turnout by alumni at this event, with the numbers of returning players close to matching that of the current team. This year’s event proved no different, welcoming back 45 alumni—25 former players from the women’s team and 20 from the men’s. 

“One of my favorite things about UMW lacrosse is the life long friendships these women form,” said the women’s Head Coach Maddie Taghon. “We had about 25 women back this year and even some of their parents. It shows how truly special their experience here is.” 

Coaches Delaney and Taghon have high hopes for the upcoming season. With a large wave of freshmen players, the upcoming spring semester promises an exciting new team dynamic and challenges. 

“Every year has changes, with a new incoming class and recent graduates,” said Taghon. “We love that about college athletics.”

Reflecting on his time on the lacrosse team, Pugliese offered words of advice for the current team. 

“Enjoy what you’re doing every day,” he said. “Some days are going to be tougher than most, but at the end of the day, it’s fun to be with everyone and you gotta cherish the memories that you make along the way.”

Alumnus Sam Pugliese talks to current players Nathan Turney and Balin Galbraith. | Grace Schumacher, The Weekly Ringer