Women’s Athletics shines with championships, individual success and academic excellence

Coming off the 50th anniversary of Division III College Athletics and Title IX, Worcester State University’s Women’s Athletics programs have made tremendous strides to level the playing field for treatment, recognition, and resources for female athletes. The drive and ability to win is infectious across Lancer women’s athletics with teams and individuals consistently winning championships and making NCAA tournament appearances, all while succeeding in the classroom.

Thanks to trailblazers worldwide who fight for equal treatment and the persistent dedication of players and coaches, female athletes are being promoted and recognized for their accomplishments more than ever. Karen Tessmer, associate athletic director and women’s basketball head coach, says that it is important to keep fighting for the recognition of women in sports, as it is easy for them to be overshadowed by male athletes.

“We need to give recognition to our talented women’s teams. And I think Worcester State’s doing it,” Tessmer said. “It’s the right thing to do to make sure that every student athlete has the same experience and that they’re getting the recognition they deserve. And it should be regardless of their gender or their sport.”

As Worcester State Athletics has set a solid foundation for their female athletes, there has been notable success across all its programs this past year both on and off the field. Young talent is prominent in women’s soccer and basketball, school records are being broken by our female track and field athletes, and the ice hockey and field hockey teams were recently crowned conference champions.

“I think women have a lot of pride too. They want to be good, and they want to represent Worcester State and win championships,” Tessmer said, noting that it is all done for the love of the game.

Off the field, female athletes have performed in the classroom as well. Of the 193 female athletes at Worcester State, 83% achieved a GPA of 3.2 or above in the fall 2023 semester. Last year, the cumulative GPA average for all women’s team was a 3.50 while 165 female athletes made MASCAC All-Academic Teams this past fall. Many of these women are taking difficult majors as well, such as nursing, occupational therapy, and communication science disorders.

“We have kids that have tough schedules, balancing labs and their sports. And I will say our student athletes have really stepped up,” Tessmer said.

As a woman in a leadership role, Tessmer is able to provide a valuable perspective and ensure people are paying attention to women in sports. At Worcester State University, it is impossible to miss all the great things our women’s teams are accomplishing. Here are highlights from fall 2023 and spring 2024.

Field Hockey

Championships have been no stranger to our women’s teams this year, with field hockey earning one for themselves. Head coach and Lancer field hockey alumna Sophia Monopoli had her hands full at the beginning of fall 2023, being hired just two and half weeks before preseason. Despite these uncertainties, Monopoli would lead the Lancers to win the inaugural MASCAC Field Hockey Championship in November 2023, posting a 9-1 conference record while doing so.

Monopoli returned to Worcester State after a prolific four-year career as a starting forward for the Lancers where she was a member of the first ever Little East Conference Championship team in 2019 and was named to the Little East All-Conference team that same year. She finished her career as a Lancer with 70 games played, recording 21 goals and 18 assists. As the new head coach, she knew how crucial it was to gain trust from her players while also maintaining personal connections.

“I am clearly pretty young when it comes to being a head coach and it’s kind of tricky finding that balance of connecting with them and making sure they know I understand, so that’s really what I focused on the most – finding that medium and making sure that they know I can relate very personally to them, especially because I was a player at Worcester State,” Monopoli said.

Alongside the championship, the Lancers would also lead the conference in nearly every offensive category and saw six players earn spots on MASCAC All-Conference teams. The 9-1 conference record came by grinding out three overtime wins and scoring 51 goals in 20 games.

“They want to win. They want to play field hockey. They love the sport – every single one of them. They also love and respect each other. It all really intertwines with one another and it works and they’re incredible,” Monopoli said of her team.

The offensive success in part was due to senior Grace Adams, who was awarded MASCAC Offensive Player of the Year and NFHCA All Region Second Team. Adams would start in all 41 career games, scoring 30 goals and 8 assists. Despite the accolades, Adams’ sole focus was on the team. For her, achieving that championship feeling as a team, alongside the women she loves. was much more meaningful than any personal triumph.

“I still get chills thinking about it because you hear about it, and then you finally do it and you’re like, ‘Wow, that’s the best feeling in the world,’” Adams said.

With a team built around trust, resilience, and belief in one another, Monopoli is looking ahead as prep work for the 2024 season has already begun, reminding her team that in order to stay at the top, they must continue to work hard and remain level headed. Most importantly, Monopoli is dedicated to making sure every player has a positive experience as a Lancer.

“Their overall experience is my number one concern, whether it’s field hockey or school, it all matters to me,” she said. “That was my biggest thing going into this is just them knowing that I care.”

The women’s ice hockey team is the three-time ECHA Conference champion.

Women’s Ice Hockey

Starting with the most recent triumph, Worcester State Women’s Ice Hockey has accomplished the extraordinary, winning their third ECHA Championship in a row by defeating Rivier 2-1 in a thrilling overtime battle. Joining as an official sport in 2021, the Lancers have wasted no time in building a dynasty, led by senior Cassidhe Wozniak and first-year standout Fiona Hatton, who scored the winning goal in overtime off an assist from Wozniak. Hatton said it was exciting to score the goal, but it took everyone to make it happen.

“Our entire team and staff worked tirelessly this season to make this moment a reality; everyone earned this,” Hatton said. Her undeniable dominance this season has also earned her the title of ECHA Rookie of the Year.

Now a senior, Wozniak has continued to build an extensive resume in her playing career. This season, she has scored 16 goals and recorded 13 assists in just 26 games. Wozniak was named ECHA First Team All-Conference at the conclusion of the season. Reflecting on her career as a Lancer, Wozniak is grateful for the experience she had, knowing that not all athletes can say they are a three time champion.

“I feel lucky and grateful to have been a part of such a strong and successful program. Not many athletes get to experience what it is like to win a championship at this level and to have done it three times in a row is truly something special,” Wozniak said.

Goaltender Kelsey Czerniawski was named the ECHA MVP of the championship tournament allowing just a single goal in two games while captain Katie Puumala was named ECHA Player of the Year, leading the conference with 11 goals and 10 assists for 21 points. Puumala, now a graduate student, has been a part of the program from the start and helped it get off the ground as a leader of the team.

“Being one of the team leaders and helping the team to a third straight championship title is a highlight and the best feeling to end my college career on. I feel so proud of everyone for all of the hard work that resulted in us bringing home the trophy,” Puumala said.

The Lancers will join the MASCAC next year looking to make another statement and continue their dominance under head coach Eliza Kelley, who was just named ECHA Coach of the Year following the championship win.

“We want to represent the University well. We want to give the campus community something to celebrate. We want to honor our program by continuing the winning culture we are establishing,” Kelley said.

Jadah Stokes

Women’s Indoor Track & Field

On top of winning championships, Worcester State female athletes are also breaking school records and achieving individual success. Making her mark clear this season for Worcester State’s indoor track and field team is freshman Jadah Stokes. Stokes, who throws shot put and weight throw for the Lancers, has claimed MASCAC Rookie of the Week honors six times this season. Stokes has shaken off the initial first-year nerves, saying her season is going really well thus far.

Ciara Adu-Addo

“I was nervous to compete at the collegiate level at first, but as the season goes on, I’ve come to learn that many of my opponents share my feelings, so I’ve decided to simply go out there and give it my all,” Stokes said.

One of Stokes best performances this season was during the week of February 13 when she claimed the top spots in shot put and weight throw at MASCAC Championships. She threw an 11.48m shotput and 13.90m weight throw to reach first in each event.

“I put a lot of effort into my practice sessions every week to get ready for the competition. Whether it’s lifting or throwing, I know that giving it my all will benefit me in the long term and during competition,” Stokes said.

Stokes recently accomplished school history at the New England DIII Indoor Track Championships in Boston, alongside teammate and first year, Ciara Adu-Addo. At the event, Stokes and Adu-Addo broke school records in their respective events. Stokes threw a 12.49m shot put, while Adu-Addo posted a 5.54m long jump. Looking ahead, Stokes says she is excited to keep competing for the Lancers, and hopes to continue growing the women’s throwing team.

“I’m excited to train hard in both indoor and outdoor track and field at Worcester State in the coming years, as well as to perform well in my outdoor track season. In the next three years, I also hope to help grow our women’s throwing team,” Stokes said.

Women’s Soccer

Worcester State women’s soccer has plenty of young talent this season. Posting a 5-2 conference record this past fall and making a trip to the MASCAC semi-finals, the Lancers made a competitive conference run and is one of the youngest teams on campus. Welcoming 14 freshmen this past year, some of them earning starting roles, the Lancers are building a solid foundation for next season.

Some of the most notable first-year contributions came from the likes of Ava Lemanski, Lucy Watson, and Jessica Forbes. Lemanski would become the team’s leading goalscorer on the season, netting 7 of her own and tallying 1 assist for 15 points. Watson became a regular contributor and an integral part of the Lancer playoff run, scoring 3 goals and 1 assist. On the other hand, Forbes has proven to be both a defensive and offensive force on the pitch, frequently being switched between the defensive line and midfield. Forbes netted 3 goals, two of them against Mass Maritime in a decisive 5-0 win.

Erin Condon

Sophomore Erin Condon has proved to be the heart of the team in just her first two years. Prior to the season, she was named team captain and went on to tally 6 goals and 7 assists for the Lancers in the fall, being named to the MASCAC First Team All-Conference for the second year in a row. Condon says she is never chasing these accolades, and goes into every game day with the same mindset.

“My favorite mindset is just have fun, and I say this to the team before every game,” she said. “I’m going out there to play with some of my best friends. There’s no pressure at all to be the best. Just go out there, do your role, and have fun with it.”

Condon says a major focus this past season was team bonding and chemistry. Building connections early on and making sure every person felt heard. One of the benefits of being such a young team is that the squad is filled with contagious energy.

“I think the biggest thing about being young is that they’re hungry,” she said. “That energy and that fire was the entire year. It was contagious. They’re all so excited to be there that it almost felt like it was a new year for me too,” Condon said.

With preparations for the 2024 season already underway for Worcester State Women’s Soccer, they look to continue feeding off the youthful energy as it translates well both on and off the field.

Women’s Basketball

Lena Waldron

Continuing with the trend of young talent is Worcester State women’s basketball where first year Lena Waldron has been firing on all cylinders. Waldron was just named MASCAC Rookie of the Year after being named Rookie of the Week nine times this season. Head Coach Karen Tessmer says Waldron is coachable, wants to get better, and that the sky’s the limit for her.

“She’s going to be someone to watch from her freshman year to her senior year in basketball growth, because she has worked so hard to develop all areas of her game. She’s just so fast. She can get down the court and score in transition and she has worked on her 3-point shooting,” Tessmer said. “People who watch her as a freshman and think she’s really good, just wait until they see her in three years. She’s going to develop into an outstanding all-around player.”

Waldron has started all but two games this season, averaging 10.1 points per game and 6 rebounds per game. She scored a career high 18 points twice this season, against MCLA in a 75-25 win and Salem State in the MASCAC quarter-final matchup.

Katie Hurynowicz

Alongside Waldron, senior and captain Katie Hurynowicz had an All-Conference season, landing a spot on the MASCAC second team. Hurynowicz recorded seven double-doubles and has been a consistent force on the court for the Lancers. She averaged 17.6 points per game and 8.0 rebounds per game. As far as her leadership, Tessmer had high praise, saying she has empowered others, displayed resiliency and continuously helped the younger players of the team.

“She’s always been a competitor and that’s what I love about her. She sets the example at practice. She works so hard, she wants to win, and doesn’t back off. She’s just been a great example for her teammates,” Tessmer said.

Looking ahead, Hurynowicz plans to return for her 5th year of eligibility next season as her and the Lancers will hone in on what’s next, ready to make a competitive run.

Women’s Volleyball

Competitive playoff runs is the norm for Worcester State women’s volleyball who bring plenty of athletic prowess, with multiple standouts helping them to a 6-1 conference record in the fall. The Lancers deep playoff runs the past two seasons were made possible in part because of the team captains, graduate student Camryn Burgio and senior Maeve Cadogan.

Camryn Burgio

Burgio was an outside hitter/libero for the Lancers, leaving a strong legacy as Worcester State’s digs leader with over 1,300 digs in her collegiate career. As a result of her efforts, she was named MASCAC Defensive Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons and named to the MASCAC First Team All-Conference. Burgio found the same success off the court, graduating from the Worcester State Nursing Program and earning herself a spot on the CSC Academic All-District Team.

Maeve Cadogan

Cadogan played as a middle blocker for the Lancers, and she left her mark on the program by becoming Worcester State’s career block assist leader with 144 to her name. Her efforts also earned her a spot on the MASCAC Second Team All-Conference.

Looking to build and cement their own legacies in the upcoming season is junior Angela Colonis and freshman Beatrice Gamboa-Estrella. Colonis is a steady presence for the Lancers, becoming a reliable setter for the team and named to the MASCAC First Team All-Conference. She has recorded 1,211 career assists so far in her career. Off the court, she was named to the CSC Academic All-District Team for her academic successes in the nursing program. Estrella is another player to watch this upcoming fall, as she looks to accomplish even more on the court after becoming a regular starter for the Lancers in her freshman season, being named MASCAC Rookie of the Week twice.

Women’s Lacrosse

Worcester State University Women’s Lacrosse finished last season with a 5-2 conference record, making a trip to the MASCAC semi-finals led by Shea Jarvis, graduate student and returning captain of the Lancers, as well as standout midfielder, McKayla Fisher.

Shea Jarvis

Jarvis has been a key attacking presence for the Lancers, starting all 19 games in her senior season last spring. She totaled 47 goals and 20 assists for 67 points last year, ultimately helping her reach 100 career points and 100 career goals as a collegiate athlete.

Splitting the captain duties with Jarvis this season are seniors Sarah Melanson and Hannah Leahy, and junior Ava Gesner. Continuing a tradition, they have come up with a motto for the team as they look to continue building off successes from last season.

“Every year we have a motto going into the season and this year the captains chose ‘More.’ They want to give more each and every day at practice, in games, in the locker room, in the weight room and in the classroom,” said head coach Kelly Downs.

McKayla Fisher

With just one season under her belt, sophomore McKayla Fisher has already cemented herself as a pivotal player for the Lancers. Last season, Fisher was named MASCAC Rookie of the Week three times. She scored 28 goals and 22 assists for 50 points last season, earning her a spot on the MASCAC All-Conference Second Team. Also a part of the nursing program, Fisher finds success off the field, earning her a spot on the MASCAC All-Academic Team in 2023.

With the veteran presence and energizing young talent this team possesses, Coach Downs is looking forward to the 2024 season.

“The energy going into the year has a different vibe about it which is exciting. They have their mind set on a MASCAC championship so we’re excited to get started to work towards that goal,” Downs said.


Worcester State Softball kicked off the 2024 season in Florida over spring break, bringing home five wins as sophomore Bella Gasbarro and senior Emily Bartlett return after having dominant performances last season.

Bartlett has started off the season strong at the mound, being named MASCAC Pitcher of the Week after several convincing performances over a long stretch of games. She tallied 28 strikeouts and appeared in 4 games, two of them being complete. Bartlett is also rising in the record books as she now has the fourth most strikeouts in Lancer history with 400 and counting.

Gasbarro saw a return as well after a standout freshman year in 2023. Appearing in all 11 games over spring break, she tallied 16 RBI’s, 6 runs, and a 0.486 batting average to start off the season. Coach Keri Bianchini is excited to have these standouts back and continue building off these early performances.

“Last year we had a relatively young team and accomplished a lot of goals offensively so it is exciting to have them back, working hard and ready to pick up where we left off,” said Head Coach Keri Bianchini.

Gasbarro, who is an infielder,had an impressive first year with the Lancers. She maintained a batting average of .409 (5th in the MASCAC), as well as totaling 33 RBI’s on the season. These performances earned her a spot on the MASCAC First Team All-Conference and the NFCA All-Region Second Team. Off the field, Gasbarro’s academic successes are just as impressive, being named to the MASCAC All-Academic Team.

Captain and pitcher Emily Bartlett continues to own the mound after a standout junior season. Last year, Bartlett recorded 145 strikeouts, leading the MASCAC. Her statistics were impressive enough to claim a spot on the MASCAC Second Team All-Conference. Bartlett also made the MASCAC All-Academic Team and is in the Chi Alpha Sigma National Honor Society for her academic excellence.

Last season, five other Lancers joined Gasbarro and Bartlett on MASCAC All-Conference teams. This amount of representation from the MASCAC is a testament to the depth and talent of the team.

“We have a lot of depth returning this season and are looking forward to building off of last year’s success and in particular with our strong hitting,” Bianchini said.