NEWTON, Mass. (BVM) – The Lasell University women’s basketball team broke the school record for most Great Northeast Athletic Conference wins on Feb. 5 with their 50-38 win over Johnson and Wales. Six GNAC wins and counting is now the new record for the Lasers program that joined the GNAC in 2007.
The team has made drastic improvements from prior seasons, which captains Meg Carroll and Peyton Young credited to the team’s chemistry.
“The team chemistry has been really good,” Carroll said. “It is a very positive atmosphere, especially with Coach Kelley [Sundberg]… she’s been a breath of fresh air.”
Carroll has been a driving force for the Lasers this season, as she won Division III National Player of the Week, something she never expected.
“It was unreal. I didn’t think that was possible,” Carroll said.
Sundberg praised the accomplishment saying, “Meg Carroll being national player of the week is an unbelievable accomplishment for her.”
Young has enjoyed the culture that Sundberg has created for the team and noted that it is different from those of years past.
“[Coach Sundberg] has created this culture that is so intertwined with each other,” Young said. “It is a good feeling because years prior I had felt that we had one team but were two separate teams. This one just feels like one big family.”
Young has played a key role for the Lasers off the bench this season. A graduate student who is accustomed to starting had her role changed after she broke her ankle in the first scrimmage of the year. When she first went to the doctors, she was told she needed surgery. Young thought it would be the end of her basketball career.
“I’m not playing basketball ever again,” Young said.
The graduate student then turned her focus to supporting her teammates.
“I love cheering for my teammates on the sideline,” Young said. “I can be effective in so many other ways than just playing.”
While Young admits “it’s a little weird” coming off the bench. She has not shied away from the role, rather she embraced it.
“When I go out, I like to make a difference,” Young said. “I hope that I’m going in to make a difference whether it is the energy, the pace, the enthusiasm, whatever it is in the moment that we need. I want to be that difference maker.”
The upperclassmen have not been the only difference makers this season as the Lasers have gotten contributions from their entire roster. Freshman Juju Nealy and Jasmine DePina have been standout players for the team throughout the season. Nealy is second on the team in points with 14.3 points per game, while DePina leads the team in rebounds, assists, and steals.
Every player on the Lasers has contributed in one way or another according to Sundberg. Young stated that Sundberg sounds like legendary New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick as she has adopted Belichick’s iconic “do your job,” phrase.
“You can lead really well with the role you have,” the Lasers coach said.
Despite the success the Lasers had early in conference play this season, the team has hit a slump that has seen them go 1-4 in their last five games. Young and Carroll chalked down the slump to exhaustion.
“I’m more tired than I’ve been in the past three years,” Carroll said.
However, she also noted the team still has the drive to work toward their goals.
“The drive is definitely still there, and I feel like it is because of the atmosphere we created as teammates and coaches,” the senior captain said.
With four conference games left the Lasers sit at 6-8 in conference and will look to pick their pace back up. Carroll wants to see the team jump off to stronger starts down the stretch.
“[We need to] keep a consistent effort and energy throughout the games,” Carroll said.
The program has taken a massive step forward this year and Carroll has enjoyed the success.
“[Breaking the GNAC wins record for the program] makes me really happy because in past years we haven’t been the strongest team,” Carroll said. “I feel like this year has been really different.”
The Lasers have taken a step in the right direction, but they know the job isn’t finished yet as they fight for a playoff spot.
“We need to find our grit somewhere,” Young said. “We are still working towards our goal and that is motivating everyone.”