During the 2020-21 academic year, women’s hockey started as Lawrence University’s 22nd varsity athletics program. Four years later, nine seniors who were present since the beginning are preparing to graduate.
Those seniors will play their final game as Vikings on Feb. 10 at the Champion Center in Appleton.
On Jan. 20, they were honored at the program’s first ever Senior Day. The LU Pep Band brought some energy as the crowd celebrated the seniors during a 4-2 win against the University of Dubuque. The game itself saw strong performances from the seniors, including goalie Sydney Seeley stopping 37 shots. In their back-to-back victories against Dubuque that weekend, seniors Delaney Kingsland, Lauren Askenazy, and Lindsey Gulliksen scored game-changing goals.
It all shows how far this class has come in four years. The nine seniors include Lauren Moravchik, an economics and German double major from Lonsdale, Minnesota; Jessie Arons, a film studies major from Palo Alto, California; Delaney Kingsland, an international relations major from Amesbury, Massachusetts; Gigi Wood, an international relations and philosophy double major from Lake Villa, Illinois; Lauren Askenazy, a biochemistry and biology double major from Albuquerque, New Mexico; Laney Martens, a biology major from Snowmass Village, Colorado; Lindsey Gulliksen, a biology major from Mount Prospect, Illinois; Molly Jastrab, a film studies major from Silver Lake, Wisconsin; and Sydney Seeley, a business & entrepreneurship and psychology double major from Prescott, Wisconsin.
The student-athletes came to Lawrence “with the understanding that we are constructing the foundation of a program that will long outlive us,” said Jastrab, a goaltender. “During the first two seasons, we were faced with unpredictable challenges that forced us to adapt and grow together. ... We are constantly working to build our culture and our community to establish a legacy that continues to fight all night as we proudly wear our blue and white.”
Being the program’s first class created challenges and opportunities.
“Our team has gone through a lot of adversity trying to make a name for ourselves in the NCHA, and I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish that feat without my teammates and coaches’ support,” said Kingsland, calling the program’s first win against Northland her favorite memory. “It was a lot of trying new things, making mistakes, and learning along the way, but we are already headed in the right direction with a very bright future for the program.”
Seeley recalled the program’s first win, coming during their second season.
“It just felt so rewarding—like our hard work over the past couple seasons had finally paid off,” she said. “There was just so much excitement during this moment and it was just so surreal and special.”
The Senior Day game saw some of the biggest crowds in the short history of the program. Kingsland believes that the fans make the biggest difference, making the “the atmosphere of the rink so intense, electrifying, and all the more enjoyable.”
Askenazy’s favorite Lawrence hockey memory is her first collegiate goal, which was also the first goal in the history of the program, coming during a game against St. Scholastica in February 2021. Moments like those were important for the team as they navigated the difficult path of establishing a program.
“We all came into the program new to playing college hockey,” Askenazy said. “However, seeing how far we have come as a program is very rewarding. It is great seeing the program our hard work has built. I am very thankful that I got the opportunity to play the sport that I love while also receiving a great education.”
There were 14 players on the team that debuted in 2021. A couple of the players were already sophomores.
“Starting from the ground level, we were all wide-eyed first-year college players taking on exceptionally skilled veteran players in a highly competitive conference,” Moravchik said. “That was a formidable challenge. Yet, we have demonstrated perseverance and determination, and our confidence and skill level has grown with each season, and we now are a competitive team. And our program, four years after that humble beginning, has a very bright future.”
The seniors will leave Lawrence knowing they’ve started something special.
“The best thing about starting a new program is there are a lot of firsts that you get to share with all of your teammates,” Martens said. “We wouldn’t have been able to start this program without those first athletes.”