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Pace women's lacrosse team

'Why Not Twice?' Pace Women Tweak Motto After 2023 Championship

November 1, 2023
Paul Ohanian
NCAA Photos

Last year, the Pace women’s lacrosse team adopted the motivational mantra of ‘Why Not Us?’ as it marched through a record-breaking 21-2 season to capture its first NCAA Division II national championship.

The Setters capped their historic run by replacing the question mark with a resounding exclamation point, downing previously unbeaten and top-ranked West Chester 19-9 in the championship game on May 21 in Indianapolis.

Coming off last year’s title, head coach Tricia Molfetta has slightly tweaked the team’s rallying cry. ‘Why Not Us?’ has given way to ‘Why Not Twice?’ as Pace begins working toward a return to the mountaintop.

“We want to stay motivated and remain hungry for more,” said Molfetta, now in her seventh year on the Pleasantville, N.Y., campus. “People are maybe thinking that it was a one-and-done thing for Pace, and they don’t believe that we are [here] to stay. We want to keep playing with a chip on our shoulder. We’re the only ones that need to believe in us.”

Mottos aside, Molfetta knows that she’s got a new group embarking on the challenge of the 2024 season.

Last year’s top three scorers — Aleya Corretjer, Emma Rafferty and Kayla Conway — are gone and were three of four All-Americans for Pace in 2023. Conway’s absence is twofold, as she was also the team’s primary draw specialist and the NCAA tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

“She was just huge for us in everything that we did,” Molfetta said, “so that’s a big hole to fill. The draw is a big piece we’re still figuring out. And along with Aleya and Emma, we lost a lot of our offensive firepower.”

Molfetta and her staff have spent the fall season trying to identify the players that will fill the gaps. She was encouraged with how the team competed against outside competition.

“I think we have a lot of kids who are hungry to prove themselves,” she said. “They have waited their turn behind these players who were really tremendous for us for years, and so, we’re calling on a lot of kids to step up.”

Senior midfielder Angelina Porcello, who tallied 65 goals and registered a team-leading 142 draw controls last year, is among the key returnees and helps set the standard.

“She’s excellent at what she does,” Molfetta said. “This kid plays hard all the time, no matter who we’re playing. She has no fear in her. The value she provides us is just her motor. We’re asking everybody to get to her level, in terms of work ethic.”

The defensive side, led by team captain Delilah Doyle and sophomore goalie Samantha Tanguay, features a strong returning corps.

“Defensively, we return everyone who played for us last year,” Molfetta said. “We have a lot of good options.”

Beyond just talent, Molfetta is quick to acknowledge the critical role that team leadership played in last year’s success. Cultivating new leaders alongside Porcello and Doyle for 2024 has also been among the fall’s priorities.

“Everything was player-driven that we did last year,” Molfetta said. “It wasn’t coming from me. Accountability and everything that we did, they were the driving force. I give them autonomy of the program because I want them to feel like they are leading the charge in whatever we accomplish.”

Last year’s championship run, fueled by a school-record 15-game winning streak at one point, included several noteworthy accomplishments beyond just hoisting the NCAA trophy. For the first time, Pace was also able to take down some of Division II’s behemoths that have traditionally had the better of the Setters.

“We circled a lot of games where we beat teams for the first time, like games against Adelphi and Le Moyne,” Molfetta said. “We were so focused on the process, and that was really special. The championship was just the icing on the cake.”

The attempt to run it back will begin on February 20 against Roberts Wesleyan. As perhaps a sign of their newfound identity as one of the top dogs in Division II, the Setters’ home schedule also includes first-time visits from traditional Top 10 programs Florida Southern and Tampa.

“We tell our players that we are the champs until someone else is named that,” Molfetta said. “I think we’re motivated for more. It’s a fun group, and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do.”