Women's Lacrosse: Man Valley graduate Steph Colson, Gettysburg gunning for third straight national championship

Women's Lacrosse: Man Valley graduate Steph Colson, Gettysburg gunning for third straight national championship
Gettysburg College senior Steph Colson, a Manchester Valley High School graduate, has the Bullets gunning for a third consecutive NCAA Division III women's lacrosse national championship. (Courtesy photo/Gettysburg Athletics/David Sinclair)

Steph Colson hasn’t dealt with too many losses over the last six years.

But when faced with defeat, Colson seems to make the most of the situation.


In her final two seasons at Manchester Valley High School, Colson helped the Mavericks go 37-1 and win two of their three consecutive state championships. The two-time all-county pick then took her game to Gettysburg College, a perennial Division III national title contender.

She arrived in 2016. Since then, the Bullets are 70-9 with the last two national championships in tow — they’re 52-3 with Colson on the field, 18-6 without.

Colson became a starter in 2017 and came back after missing six weeks because of an injury to guide Gettysburg to the championship. She netted the game-winner in the Bullets’ 6-5 victory over The College of New Jersey in the national final, then earned Most Outstanding Performer of the NCAA tournament.

Colson turned even more heads during her junior season — the midfielder led Gettysburg in points and ground balls, set a program and Centennial Conference record in draw controls, and added another MOP award upon the Bullets’ second national title in as many years.

After the season, Colson won the inaugural Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association Division III Player of the Year award.

Now she’s a senior, and once again leading the Bullets toward the playoffs and a shot at three national championships in a row. With her college career in its final months, Colson said she’s doing her best to “embrace every single second of it, because it’s really flying by.”

Time apparently seems to go fast when you’re piling up wins and accomplishments.

Gettysburg (11-1) is ranked second in the IWLCA’s latest D-III coaches poll, and it trying to defend its Centennial Conference championship. But the Bullets suffered their first loss of the season April 3 when Franklin & Marshall, then ranked No. 7, edged them 9-6 in Lancaster, Pa.

Colson and her teammates are familiar with the feeling — the Diplomats beat Gettysburg 8-4 last spring, but the Bullets went 13-1 the rest of the way and captured the national crown.

“If you haven’t lost in a little bit, it’s even harder. But we look at it and we try to learn from it,” Colson said. “We say we have short-term memories … champions have short-term memories, I guess. It definitely builds a little bit more character and little bit more grit, which I think is good for any team. I think it’s better in the long run, because you learn from it.”

Colson displays her lacrosse talent all over the field, which Gettysburg coach Carol Cantele said is her midfielder’s biggest strength. Cantele said watching Colson improve her dodging ability throughout her college career has made her become even more dangerous on offense — when the reigning national player of the year starts to make a move toward the goal, opposing defenses are bound to take notice.

“It’s almost as if she has a whole different … gear that has only gotten better over her four years,” Cantele said. “She has a way of dumping [the ball] to the player whose defender just slid off to cover her. It’s pretty remarkable. … ‘Catch her if you can.’”

Gettysburg enjoyed a 20-10 win over Haverford on Saturday, but Colson sat out her third game in a row while dealing with a minor injury. She has 20 goals and 16 assists in nine games (all starts), with 45 draw controls, 16 ground balls, and 11 caused turnovers.

Last season, Colson totaled 140 draws, setting program and conference records in the process. She finished the year with 76 points, 53 ground balls, and 25 caused TOs.


Colson has 93 goals and 49 assists in her college career that spans 55 games.

The Bullets lost to F&M in the 2017 Centennial Conference title game before winning five straight in the NCAA tourney to win their first national crown in six years. Cantele, who surpassed 400 career wins earlier this spring, said she thinks Gettysburg will be back on track in time for the playoffs.

Colson and teammate Liza Barr, a junior, recently landed on the IWLCA’s Midseason All-America team. Barr went into Saturday’s game leading the Centennial with 63 points, a career high.

Kerry McKeever, a sophomore, was second on the Bullets in scoring as of Saturday.

No doubt they’re benefiting from Colson being on the field.

“She’s just such a reliable player that we are blessed to have on our side of the field,” Cantele said. “She is one of those players that not only shines herself, but plays in a way that makes so many people around her shine. She has great sense of timing of when to hold the ball, when to distribute the ball. She’s a complete player, both offensively and defensively.”

Colson said she’s doing her best to take it all in with college coming to an end soon. When Cantele told the Bullets at the beginning of the season to play this one for the seniors, Colson said it hit her that finally she was one of those veterans. Capping her career with another national championship would be sweet, but Colson said her lacrosse experience has been about so much more.

“I love the team. Even if we wouldn’t have won, I would have loved the team,” Colson said. “I love my coaches. I love the school. I love that I’ve gotten to go abroad — this sounds like a D-III advertisement, but I got to do a bunch of different things that I’ve loved so much.

“It doesn’t always work like that for a lot of people, but it worked out really well for me.”

Gettysburg is 52-3 over the last three-plus seasons when senior Steph Colson, a Manchester Valley High School graduate, is on the field for the Bullets.
Gettysburg is 52-3 over the last three-plus seasons when senior Steph Colson, a Manchester Valley High School graduate, is on the field for the Bullets. (Courtesy photo/Gettysburg Athletics/David Sinclair)