By: Aiden Locke
The Brockport Golden Eagles women’s lacrosse team is entering a new era. Bryana Glasser is heading into her first season as the official head coach. She spent the 2023 season as the interim and has her team gearing up for their last run in the SUNYAC. The Golden Eagles are currently preparing for the season with “Fall ball” practices.
“It’s going really, really well, a lot of things to learn and a lot of extra time to really install our fundamentals,” Glasser said.
Last season the women’s lacrosse team saw a lot of changes with long time head coach Steve Wagner departing after having been the head coach since 2012. He had over 100 career wins. They also lost eight starters from the roster.
Glasser had a tough challenge in front of her going into the 2023 season because she wasn’t able to bring in recruits. The intake of first-years for Brockport was limited due to the coaching change. After losing a large chunk of the roster, it put the Golden Eagles behind the 8-ball for 2023. Glasser was able to get the best out of a thin roster and got the Golden Eagles into the SUNYAC playoffs with a home game vs New Paltz in round one. Brockport took care of business. They fell in the semi-finals to powerhouse Cortland, just a few days later.
“There’s a bar that we set and now we’re going to keep it there no matter what,” Glasser said. “We have a really tough schedule coming up in the spring, but it’s going to bode really well for us as we continue to grow and we continue to get better.”
The biggest news for the Golden Eagles is the return of attacker Cassidy Burnash, she had 47 goals paired with 37 assists. She was one of the premier offensive threats in the SUNYAC conference. She was selected to the All-SUNYAC first team in 2023.
“It’s amazing right, it’s so great to have her on the attack,” Glasser said. “She knows the system and what’s expected and it will help with the transition with all of our new kids.”
Burnash is returning for her fifth year of eligibility.
On the flip side, two significant losses will have to be swallowed. Midfielder Courtney Cunningham who was an All-Conference first team selection with Burnash is gone. Leaving with her is the most vocal leader they had last season, goaltender Erin Lant.
A fresh recruiting class will give the Golden Eagles much needed depth that they simply didn’t have in 2023.
“Everybody’s eager to learn, eager to get better, showing up with 110% effort and that’s all we can ask…we couldn’t be more excited about it,” Glasser said.
2023 served as a transition year for Brockport and Glasser. She came in, set her expectations and laid the foundations of the culture she wanted to build. Under these challenging circumstances, the Golden Eagles vastly out performed their expectations finishing the season 6-3 in SUNYAC play.
“It’s still a work in progress and I think as long as we all, including the staff, show up and give our best we’re going to move the dial a little bit further every day,” Glasser continued. “We just have to keep getting better every day and control the controllables and with that we’re in a position to compete.”
As this Golden Eagle team looks forward to the 2024 campaign they will have a lot of returning fire power offensively. The previously mentioned Cassidy Burnash, Alayna Foos who had 39 goals in 2023 and Julia Quinlan who emerged in the middle of 2023 with 20 goals. To pair with them, two returners headline the defensive unit.
The defensive unit had its ups and downs in 2023. It was a young group, all four were new starters and had never played together before going into the year. We saw that group continue to grow and find more and more chemistry as the year progressed. An encouraging sign even though the group will lose two starters for 2024 as Alex VanDerKar and Talyor Ford depart.
A potential concern for this Brockport unit in the preseason could be at the draw control line, with the losses of both primary draw control wingers in Courtney Cunningham and Taylor Ford. Alex VanDerKar was the teams first option to take the draw controls and with her departure, Julia Quinlan will be bumped from the second option to the first option in that role.
Another question mark for this Golden Eagle team will be in the cage with an incoming first year getting the majority of the reps so far.
“… we have a freshman in the cage,” Glasser said. “There’s going to be a lot of things that we have to look forward to and there’s a lot of growing pains that we’re going to go through and that’s okay. It’s all a part of the process,” Glasser said.
The Golden Eagles scored 176 goals while allowing 177 goals. A lot of that scoring differential came from two out of conference games against No. 10 ranked at the time William Smith College and University of Rochester. Geneseo and Cortland also did damage to that total. They are teams that should have been beating that new look Brockport team in 2023.
This team is being built on the little things and it showed on their stat sheet from 2023. They had a +35-ground ball differential (245-210), a +4-turnover differential (220-224) and an 81 clear percentage.
One of Bryana Glasser’s favorite phrases she preaches to her team is “control the controllables” which is a unique way to say, just worry about what’s in front of you. She really harps on her team about putting in the effort on the fine details and hustle plays because, at the end of the day they mean the difference at the end of games. With this core philosophy, Glasser is building her program up from the bottom up and with time this Brockport team can become a force.
The Golden Eagles start their 2024 campaign on the road on Saturday Feb. 10, 2024, with non-conference opponent St John Fisher. The Cardinals will likely be ranked in the division three top 25 rankings come the start of the season. They begin SUNYAC play on the road as well with a long trip to the Northeast to face off against Plattsburgh State on Mar. 23, 2024.