Shannon Stull won two games in her first two seasons playing women’s lacrosse at Goucher College.
The Gophers many times played games in those years at a disadvantage, Stull said. They weren’t being punished for committing penalties, they simply didn’t have enough players on the roster for a full lineup. Goalies soon became defenders out of necessity, Stull said.
Goucher played one game in Stull’s junior year without a coach, she said, amid the school finding a replacement for the Gophers’ third coach since 2013. The Francis Scott Key High School graduate didn’t even get to play for the college coach who recruited her, but Stull said her commitment to Goucher never wavered.
And it was paying off.
The attacker came into her senior year with 130 career goals, and helped the Gophers go from back-to-back 1-14 seasons to an 8-8 record in 2019. Stull had 14 goals and two assists this spring, and Goucher was 4-2 with Landmark Conference games about to begin.
The Gophers defeated Notre Dame of Maryland University 11-9 on March 10, but a few days later Stull and her teammates were dealing with the NCAA’s decision to cancel the remainder of all spring athletics because of the coronavirius pandemic.
“We had been working so hard, and this is the best Goucher women’s lacrosse has looked at least in the last four years that I’ve been there,” Stull said. “We were really excited. And then ... it was just, like, completely heartbreaking for something to end. I just remember calling one of my roommates ... ‘I can’t believe it’s over, for real.’ It’s just done, like that, like I’ve already played my last game.”
Goucher was going after its first winning season in the last five years, but the Gophers have had only two of them since 2006. Sarah Goodson coached Goucher in 2019 and went 8-7 (the Gophers lost their non-coached game), and seemed poised to help lead the program’s turnaround.
So did Stull, who had five goals and one assist in Goucher’s 15-5 victory March 7 over Neumann — a team that beat the Gophers 21-10 in their opener last season. Stull was 1-for-12 from the 8-meter arc this season going into the Neumann game, but she converted three of her five chances that day.
Stull recorded the eighth five-goal game of her career, and the 24th with three or more goals (it was her 29th multi-goal performance as a Gopher).
She added two goals and an assist in the Notre Dame win, the Gophers’ third in a row, before things came to a halt. But Stull said the disappointment is coupled with satisfaction in knowing the impact she left on the program.
“I loved playing for Goucher,” she said. “I was definitely preparing for lacrosse to end anyways, and it going to be super tough, but I still thought I had a solid month, probably a little longer. I’ve been a captain since I was a sophomore. I’ve been a captain for three years, I’ve been an on-field and off-field leaders ... it has been great. I love my teammates.”
Goucher’s two losses this season came by a combined three goals, which had the Gophers feeling optimistic about their chances for success in 2020. Spring break plans to Florida were still intact a few days before the NCAA made its ruling, but Stull said she and her teammates held out hope of resuming the season when the Landmark Conference released a statement March 13 saying it would postpone events for several weeks.
“We had [time] to get faster and get stronger on our own, and then go back and show the conference ... what we really were made of,” Stull said, not knowing then what was to come days later.
Stull was fourth in the team in points (16) and also led the squad with six free-position goals. She added 12 ground balls, four draw controls, and three caused turnovers.
The NCAA’s governing body for college athletics ruled March 13 that seniors who played a spring sport could be granted an extra year of eligibility for 2021, but Stull said she’ll likely pass with graduation coming in May. She’s a special education major who said she’ll be focused on getting a job later this year.
Stull won’t be forgetting her lacrosse career anytime soon, however.
Stull played in 52 games and started them all, and finished with 146 career points. Her chances of climbing into Goucher’s top seven all-time scorers were dashed prematurely, but Stull said she doesn’t have regrets.