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New Coach and New Season for SAU Women’s Lacrosse

(Photo courtesy of Paige Bily) 

As Saint Ambrose Women’s lacrosse looks ahead at their 2023-2024 spring season, players say they have a lot of exciting opportunities. New head coach, Katie Baranski is stepping into the role to lead this team to success. 

With Baranski stepping in partially during the 2022-2023 season, she led her team to eight wins and losses. Now, with the official title of head coach and a full season ahead, the team and herself say they have high hopes. 

Coach Baranski is an alum from Saint Ambrose, “I was drawn to St. Ambrose University to coach lacrosse due to my personal connection with the university. Prior to returning as a coach, I had the privilege of playing as a student-athlete. I not only played lacrosse here, but pursued degrees in both Graphic Design and Art History.”  

Junior Abigail Taaffe detailed her initial thoughts on getting a new head coach, “It was a bit of a worry, but exciting to hear that it was Coach Katie. Not only would she be our first women’s coach, but she’s played before, so she understands what it’s like being a female student athlete.” 

Junior Abigail Messina agrees, “I am very excited to have Coach Katie to help bring the program together.”

Preseason this year was a little different for the women’s lacrosse team. Coach Katie has taken a different approach with her team, which the players seem to enjoy. 

According to Baranski, “In preparation for this season, we focused on a variety of activities with an emphasis on conditioning and weightlifting. We understand the significance of physical preparedness and endurance in competitive sports.” 

Abbygayle Vanderwarren, a first-year student-athlete for the team mentions, “We got the work done that we needed to do for the season, and I think that we are as prepared as we can be going into a new season with new players. [Baranski] even let us have our entire winter break instead of moving back in early.” 

The coach also ensures her players focus on academics.

“I hold high expectations for my players on and off the field. It is important to me that they not only excel in their athletic performance but also prioritize their academic success. I am proud to say that the students on our team embody these qualities effortlessly,” said Coach Katie Baranski.

It is understood by her players what her expectations are. As Messina describes, “She expects 110% while still having fun. She pushes us towards success in the things that we do.” 

Vanderwarren agrees, “She helps us know how much of an asset we are on the team. I believe that she expects us to help each other with everything that comes with a sports season.” 

The 2023-2024 Women’s Lacrosse team has high hopes for their season and many personal goals that they would like to achieve. 

“I would definitely like to get better at more offensive roles as they have intimidated me from the past even before I got to St. Ambrose,” says Taaffe who plays a defensive role. 

Messina adds, “My personal goal is to be a starter and become better at the sport as a whole since it is only my second year playing.” 

Finally, Vanderwarren says she’s excited about the season, “Coming into college lacrosse, I was not going to play and I want to have a clean slate and a new perspective on things. With a new coach and new team, it is going really well for me.” 

Katie Baranski is excited to take on this new role and lead her team to many victories. “It’s a fulfilling journey to guide and mentor the next generation of student-athletes while being in a place that I hold dear to my heart.”

St. Ambrose Women’s Lacrosse kicks off their season February 24th vs. Lewis University.

To see more from the women’s lacrosse team, watch their episode of Inside SAU Athletics here.