Cottell’s Play In Goal Key In Getting King’s To Playoffs
A look up and down the King’s women’s lacrosse roster will find a group dominated by freshmen and sophomores, with only three juniors and one senior mixed in.
But youth hasn’t been a hindrance to the Monarchs this season as they earned a fourth-place finish in the MAC Freedom conference and the spot in the conference playoffs that comes with it.
King’s plays at top-seeded Misericordia tonight at 7 p.m. in a conference semifinal.
“I thought it could be a possibility, but I don’t think it was ever a guarantee,” sophomore goalie Orla Cottell said of preseason expectations of a playoff spot. “We had to work for it, especially since we are such a young team. The majority of the players are freshmen or sophomores. Our big scorer was a freshman; I’m coming in as a sophomore. It was, ‘This is what we could reach, we have so much potential. But what really is going to happen once our feet hit the pavement?’”
The Monarchs grew as the season went on with Cottell being one of the cornerstones. In the regular-season finale, Cottell set the school’s single-season saves record with 192 stops.
“Coming into the season, I knew there was definitely some improvement from last year,” Cottell said. “Last year I was a freshman, so there’s definitely some jitters in there. I came into this season more confident, more prepared and I think overall as a team a lot of the girls I played with last spring so we were able to build a stronger connection, a stronger core defense. Having their support, their respect from last season helped me build up even more this season. They really helped me get this record, get where I am now.”
The communication factor between a goalie and her defense is a big part of coming up with any kind of stop.
“The most important thing in some sort of rush, if they’re coming down on a fast break is letting my teammates know where the ball is,” Cottell said. “I’m definitely calling that out to them, they’re calling out to me if they have someone where they’re at. So I know, maybe, ball is on the right side, I’m lining up with the cage, I’m making sure my angles there, but I’m also listening to someone on my left so I know there could be a pass, I might need to step this way. It’s definitely a communication aspect that we all know where the ball is or where the shot might come off from.”
To help make so many saves, Cottell relies on certain traits she’s delevoped over time.
“Reflexes are definitely one of the most important aspects of lacrosse,” she said. “I played tennis when I was younger, too, so I gained reflexes from that. As a goalie, it’s all about reaction time. How am I reacting? Making sure I’m reacting to where the ball’s going. Anticipation is definitely part of it as well. If I can see their eyes, if they’re focusing on a specific spot, or in practice if some of the girls always shoot to a certain angle, I know to watch this step so I’m a little ahead of the game. But, you don’t want to rely solely on that. You want to rely more on your reaction instincts to make sure your picking up the ball.”
There are certain drills Cottell goes through to make sure those instincts are in top shape.
“Before a game, (assistant coach Quincy Wilkins), she warms me up,” Cottell said. “We go over low shots, middle shots and high shots just to get me reacting to each of them. Anything like juggling, anything working on hand-eye coordination is important because it gets my body moving, gets my hands where they need to go. I’m always watching the ball when I’m doing any of these little drills.”
Tonight will be the second time in a week King’s and Misericorda faced off. Misericordia won 20-4 on April 24. Cottell thinks seeing them again so soon will help the team know what expect in Round 2.
“I think we got to see a bit more of their offense, their go-tos, whether they’re feeding from certain angles,” she said. “It gives our defense another shot to re-address situations that maybe we didn’t get the first time so we rebound from it. And our offense gets another chance to work the ball around, be a bit calmer this time and make sure we’re playing our game and not trying to one-up them.”
Regardless, Cottell said the team is excited for a chance in the playoffs.
“I think nerves always come with a big game. But I definitely think the main thing is excitement,” she said. “We played Misericordia last week and obviously it wasn’t the result we wanted, but we have another shot at them. They’re the top seed so we’re definitely the underdogs here. We’re definitely coming in to play the best we can and giving it our all, making sure we’re having fun. Even if it is the end of the season, we’re ending it well, ending it as a team.”
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