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Captains senior defender Ellen O’Callaghan (left) and junior attacker Nicole Miles (right) during the game against Delaware on Feb. 19 at Franklin Field. Credit: Samantha Turner

After a decisive victory against Delaware to open the season, Penn women's lacrosse came up just short to No. 24 Johns Hopkins on Saturday, losing 10-8. Through two games, the Quakers' season is only barely underway, but the team has high hopes for what's to come.

The DP sat down with the team's captains, senior defender Ellen O’Callaghan and junior attacker Niki Miles, to get their perspectives on the season.

The team started the season off with a strong win against Delaware. How did that play into your motivations and mindsets for the rest of the season?

Ellen O’Callaghan: The win against Delaware was a confidence boost for our team and was clear proof of the things we are capable of. Being the first official game of this season, first college game for many of my teammates, and first game in a very long time, it felt great to be back out there and have fun.

Nicole Miles: It was exciting to see some of our younger girls see the field for the first time, score big goals, and celebrate all together. Moving forward, our mindset will continue to [be to] grow each day and learn from our successes.

Your most recent game against Johns Hopkins resulted in a close loss. How is the team rebounding from that? What are you focusing on for the coming week and season in general?

EO: Johns Hopkins is a good game every year and was a good test for our team. Although I think the game should have gone differently, I am happy we were able to see our mistakes now, instead of later on this season. We are using this game as a lesson as well as fuel for games to come. Taking it one day at a time, we are focusing on not making the same mistakes.

NM: We definitely saw some areas that we need to improve on to be the team that we can be. This team is going to rebound this week by implementing improvements from the coaches efficiently, taking care of the ball better, and holding one another accountable.

You’re coming off of a season that, while with a winning record, was canceled after five games. How has this affected your expectations for this year?

NM: Our expectations are the same as they are every year. An Ivy League championship and an NCAA championship. Our 2019 team was extremely talented and stacked with awarded veterans, and now we are also stacked. The difference now is that we are currently in the process of learning a lot every day and everyone is coming out with a passion to represent Penn lacrosse that we had all admired for so long and defined who we are as a program.

EO: I do think we all recognize how different this year will naturally be. We didn’t have the season other conferences had and basically have one class with full-season experience. There are going to be challenges that we wouldn’t normally face, and it’s going to take some time for some of our inexperience to wear off. That being said, our goals and standards stay high. Yes, things might be different, but we have the talent to hold these high expectations.

Could you talk about the overall atmosphere on the team and how it has grown or changed since you started playing?

EO: Our team is incredibly close and I think that has always been a strength of ours. What we have grown in and what will distinguish us is our ability to use how close we are to hold each other accountable. We can be hard on each other and say the tough thing because we have built this trust. [That] will make a difference this season.

NM: The team is fun and competitive, and the locker room is full of smiles. As I have moved from being a freshman trying to figure out a role on the team to now a more experienced junior, I think I have grown to understand the importance of relationships on the team. That has been one of our staples this year: being connected and trusting one another to make mistakes, to grow, and hold one another accountable.

What are you and the team most looking forward to this season?

NM: We are looking forward to each day and taking it one day at a time. The Ivy League canceling spring sports for two seasons in a row highlighted what it is that we truly enjoy and love to do, and that is play lacrosse and compete. Whether it is practice when it is 30 degrees or a sunny game against Northwestern, we are grateful to be playing again and doing what we do best. For me, I look forward to the traditions and the opportunity that we have to finally compete and contend for a national title.

EO: I’m looking forward to soaking up every moment. Highs and lows, I am just simply grateful to have the opportunity to play again. Beyond that, I can’t wait to see how our team grows as individuals and as a collective.

What do you and the team hope to accomplish?

NM: As a team, we hope to accomplish the little things every day. This is an important message, as we all have so many goals and we definitely have the potential. It is going to be a necessity that we break down those goals into actionable changes and improve each time we come out. I also hope that we enjoy it in the process and understand how the journey to get here has been different for each girl.

EO: I hope most of all that we improve every day. I hope that we surprise people by remaking a name for ourselves in the Ivy League and nationally [and] that we have pride in this program that stays long after I am gone.