By: Sarah Swift, Athletic Communications
The State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz women’s lacrosse team started its 2020 season showing true strength as a team with high hopes of advancing further than it ever had before. The Hawks earned two exciting wins early against St. Joseph’s College-Long Island on March 4 (16-11) and Hartwick College on March 7 (19-7), giving SUNY New Paltz an overall record of 2-3.
Leading the Hawks were three seniors: attackers Jenny O’Leary and Emily Puciloski, and midfielder Jahna Beiling who finished their careers with a total of 20 wins and were projected to be the winningest senior class in program history (competing against 22 wins by Erin Tornatore and Erica Cummings 2010-2013) before having to end their senior season after five games due to unforeseen circumstances. Additionally, the SUNY New Paltz women’s lacrosse’s seniors were a part of the first ever team in program history to make it into the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Championship Tournament in the 2019 season.
“These three players were truly tested over their four years. They have been through much of the rebuilding of this program,” Hawks coach Keith Detelj said. “I believe that we would not be as far along as we are now without their determination, humility, and open minds to a vision to make ‘firsts for the program.’”
#2 Jennifer O’Leary
O’Leary started her journey off as a midfielder for her first two years as a Hawk. She contributed a combined four goals, fired 24 shots, enjoyed 17 ground balls, and was named to the SUNYAC Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll concluding her sophomore year. At the beginning of her upperclassman career, O’ Leary transitioned to attack, appearing in every single game her junior year and all five games that made up her senior season run. In her 2019 and 2020 seasons, O’Leary contributed a combined 23 goals and 10 assists, recorded 25 draw controls and collected 23 caused turnovers. O’Leary finished her career with an impressive 56.6 shooting percentage, which proved how much of a reliable and valuable force she was on attack.
“Jenny was a true competitor that never complained. A gritty, and clutch player in the parts of the game that you take for granted,” Detelj said. “A needed ground ball or clear or assist, a defensive knockdown or ground ball — it is hard to teach that competitiveness and a player that just loves to search and make those plays.”
Being a part of the SUNY New Paltz women’s lacrosse program was a remarkable experience for O’Leary. Reflecting on her time as a Hawk and the bonds she made with her teammates throughout her career, the special impact SUNY New Paltz women’s lacrosse had on her was clear.
“I have made countless memories on this team. It’s really hard to choose only a few,” she said. “My absolute favorite memory was last year when we beat Buffalo State in overtime in order to make the playoffs for the first time in program history. The team really came together that day to do something special for each other and for the program. Being on the field during that win was an amazing feeling that I will never forget.
“…Also, freshman year we had an awesome overtime win that I will always remember because it meant a lot to the team at that point in time too. That was a bunch of the older girls first SUNYAC win, so it was also pretty awesome to be on the field for that. Last season, we stopped at Lake Placid after one of our games to tour the town and the Olympic Center which was a lot of fun. One of our inspirations last year was the movie Miracle and a lot of the museum had those exhibits. It was pretty cool to be in an Olympic town together. Along with all the memories we made on the field during the games, we made a ton of memories that I will never forget just being with each other on bus rides or hanging out as friends.
“I will miss everything about being on SUNY New Paltz [women’s lacrosse]. It’s hard accepting that I won’t play another college lacrosse game with my best friends again. There’s no better feeling than walking off the field with your team after a win. Our team is so special, and our program is rising every year. It was amazing to be on the team throughout a time of growth. Most of all I will miss seeing the girls I can call my family, and my coaches every day. Everyone has made me a better player and person. There are some things that sports give you, that nothing else can and I will miss it so much.
“The bonds I have made being a part of this program are amazing. Each and every year I have met people that are so supportive and care about the team and everyone on it. I am lucky to say that every single teammate on New Paltz Women’s Lacrosse I’ve ever had is my friend. I’ve considered my teammates my family every year. We were always so close. We all helped each other through it all and made each other better every day. They have impacted my life by influencing and motivating me to improve in every way possible. I hope I did the same to the younger girls on this team. And I know the relationships didn’t stop when the older girls have graduated and they won’t stop after I graduate. I am so happy to have made lifelong friends through this program.”
#11 Jahna Beiling
Beiling was a force coming into SUNY New Paltz as a freshman and continued to lead the Hawks throughout her campaign. She appeared in all 49 games throughout her four-year career, collected a combined 79 ground balls, and caused 77 turnovers against her opponents. Yet, in addition to the impressive stats she enjoyed during her time on the turf, Beiling had an impressive record-breaking career in more aspects than one.
In SUNY New Paltz women’s lacrosse history, Beiling is currently ranked fourth in season-high caused turnovers with 26 (which she earned during her 2019 season) and was one of the only Hawks in SUNY New Paltz women’s lacrosse history to collect the most caused turnovers in a game (6), which she earned April 2017 against The College at Brockport. Moreover, Beiling is ranked second in all-time caused turnovers (77), was an All-SUNYAC Second-Team selection in 2019 and was named the team’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) her sophomore year. As well as performing skillfully on the field, Beiling excelled academically and was named to the SUNYAC Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll her sophomore and junior year.
“Jahna showed leadership at a very young time in her career here. I like to compare her to Bill Russell… someone who was a quiet leader, but when she does speak everyone listens…The epitome of humility and that might look to an outsider as a weakness, but it was her biggest strength and the teams,” Detelj said. “She kept the team wanting more firsts, always tried to make the person next to her better and in a pressure situation had composure and positivity. One of the best defenders ever to come out of this program.”
There are many aspects of her career as a Hawk that Beiling will miss moving forward, but what she will miss the most is her team.
“My favorite memories are from the bus rides,” she said. “We always found ways to entertain ourselves: karaoke, heads up, bean boozled, card games,etc. One of my favorite bus rides was when we watched Miracle and spent the rest of the weekend quoting every line of the movie.
“The thing I will miss most is the comradery of my team. I developed a bond with everyone on the team and I’m gonna miss having us all in the same place every day. NPWL (New Paltz women’s lacrosse) is a community that allowed me to be a part of something bigger than myself. I’m going to miss that feeling of going to battle with my teammates and knowing each and every one of us is going to give it all we got.
“Being a part of NPWL has given me a strong bond with each of my teammates. Our connection grew stronger as we faced challenges and overcame obstacles together. We stood side by side putting in work to make each other better. Everyone brought something different to the team. We were all different people, which brought us lots of laughs and memories. We wanted to spend every moment together. Even when we weren’t on the field, we found ways to be together outside of lacrosse. We were each other’s support system. We knew when someone had an important test coming up and knew when someone needed extra encouragement to get through the week. We truly had each other’s backs. This bond has had a great impact on my life. I will model future teams and relationships after the bond this team had.”
#18 Emily Puciloski
Another essential leader on attack for SUNY New Paltz beginning her freshman year was Emily Puciloski. Puciloski showed steady progress in her play from season to season. Appearing in all 14 games her freshman year, Puciloski proved a versatile player early, contributing four goals, gathering 18 ground balls, collecting 13 caused turnovers and earning two draw controls. In her sophomore year, Puciloski improved her scoring stat line with nine goals, while also registering 18 ground balls and eight caused turnovers. During the 2019 season, Puciloski racked up 14 goals, and contributed two assists, putting in place a personal record of 16 points on the season. In her short-lived senior campaign, Puciloski appeared in all five games and collected seven ground balls with five caused turnovers. A hard worker on and off the field, Puciloski put in the work and made the grades, being named to the SUNYAC Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll her sophomore and junior seasons.
“Emily was a person that sacrificed and always put the team first. Would speak up for herself or the team, always looking to make the team better in some way. A tough protector of culture and her teammates,” Detelj said. “We were very lucky to have such a hard worker and great person. She did what was necessary for the team and did it with determination.”
Similar to how her fellow seniors felt looking back on their careers at SUNY New Paltz, Puciloski had several memories she will carry, as she moves forward to the next chapter, but will miss her team most of all.
“One of my favorite memories with NPWL has to be when we stopped in LP (Lake Placid) on our way home from our Plattsburgh game during spring break last year. Everyone was pretty bummed we were home in New Paltz the whole week then the coaches surprised us with LP and it ended up being one of the best days. Not to mention we watched Miracle like five times that year so seeing the Olympic center was pretty cool,” Puciloski said.
“While I didn’t realize it at the time, at one of my last lifts with the team I thought to myself, ‘this is what I’m going to miss the most.’ The way you have 20 girls coming together to support your every move and every decision is a feeling like none other. I’m going to miss that feeling of unwavering commitment and belongingness the most.
“The bonds made on any college sports team are incomparable, especially on ours. Between meeting some of my closest friends through this program and having a coaching staff be involved in every aspect of my college life — I know I’ll stay in contact with these people for the rest of my life. There was something very special with every group during my four years on this team and I can’t wait to see this one advance and reach that next level of potential.”
Though the end of their career was something the senior Hawks did not expect, the games they did play showed the impact they made on SUNY New Paltz women’s lacrosse. O’Leary, Beiling, and Puciloski have set a tone for future Hawks entering the program. Moving forward, SUNY New Paltz women’s lacrosse will set high standards for itself, thriving in serious competition and striving to break records the 2020 senior class contributed in setting during their run.
“All three of these seniors found their way to making this program better every year and I have no doubt they would have done it again if our season did end prematurely,” Detelj said. “They are the winningest players in SUNYAC play in the history of the program. These will be important and big shoes to fill for next year, but I am excited to see what mark and teachings they left behind. Thank you again seniors for a great four years.”
To read the original article, use the link! https://nphawks.com/news/2020/3/31/suny-new-paltz-womens-lacrosse-2020-senior-class.aspx
Photographer: Monica D’ippolito
Graphic Design: Luke Barnell