Ex-KP Star Woodall Excels In Lacrosse at Westfield State

Ken Hamwey Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
July, 2018
Article Body: 

Maria Woodall excelled as a goaltender when she played lacrosse at King Philip Regional and she’s still getting high marks for her efforts at the college level.
The Norfolk native had a dynamic junior season at Westfield State University where she led the Owls to their second straight league championship. Woodall was chosen Player of the Week three times and Player of the Year in the Massachusetts Small College Athletic Conference (MASCAC). Selected as the Owls’ team MVP, she also was named the MVP in the MASCAC’s Tournament final where Westfield State defeated Framingham State. She also was chosen a MASCAC first-team all-star.
The 21-year-old Woodall, however, prefers to deflect any praise to her teammates, specifically her defense. “All the honors and accolades are a tribute to my teammates and our strong defensive players,’’ she emphasized. “And, coach Jess Pechulis deserves some credit. He’s trusted my decision-making ability and shown confidence in my play.’’
Woodall, who hopes to pursue a career in law enforcement, split her sophomore season as a starter, then took on the net-minding duties full-time in the spring. Her goals-against average was 9.06 and her save percentage was 53.5. She also set a school record for saves in a season. The old record was 160 and she had 198.
“Stats don’t really matter; it’s winning that counts,’’ Woodall noted.
At Westfield State, winning has become a way of life in women’s lacrosse. During Woodall’s sophomore season, the Owls won the MASCAC title by eliminating Bridgewater State in the tourney final and last spring Framingham State fell victim in the final.
“The victory over Bridgewater was my best game so far,’’ Woodall said. “I gave up only five goals and made 15 saves. There was a lot of pressure and a lot at stake in that match. What was rewarding was beating them in the tourney final after we lost to them during the regular season.’’
Last spring’s triumph over Framingham State gave the Owls their second consecutive conference crown and Woodall rates that achievement as her top thrill. “I was humbled and happy to be part of two straight league titles,’’ she said. “Again, it’s my teammates who deserve the credit. They’re so supportive and capable.’’
Woodall, however, has been a key cog in helping the Owls get to a pair of NCAA Division 3 Tournaments. Last spring, Westfield State beat Morrisville in the tourney’s first round, then was eliminated by eventual champ Gettysburg. In 2017, the Owls again split a pair of tourney games, losing in the second round to Hobart.
“The goals for my senior year are to again win the conference tourney and to get back to the NCAAs,’’ Woodall said. “And, on a personal scale, I’d like to capture all-American honors. Team success and an all-American nod would be a great way to end my college career. The world is my oyster. I’m hoping the best is yet to come.’’
At King Philip, Woodall was a goaltender in field hockey and lacrosse. She fared well in lacrosse, becoming a captain in her senior year and selected as the team MVP. She was chosen twice as a Hockomock League all-star. “I played lacrosse for (coach) Julie Pasquantonio,’’ Woodall noted. “We had winning teams but we always were second in the Hockomock League behind Franklin.’’
Woodall enjoys playing goal in spite of the pressure that accompanies that position.
“I like being in goal because I don’t have to run,’’ she said jokingly. “Actually, I enjoy it very much. It’s thrilling to make big stops and to rely on your instincts and lacrosse IQ for success. I think that being left-handed is a plus because it forces opponents to shoot differently. The sport is exciting because it’s all about speed and intensity. And, there’s such a team aspect, too.’’
Two areas where Woodall will work hard to improve on is her stick quickness to the ball and stopping low shots. “It’s all about practice and repetition,’’ she emphasized. “I can do better with my stick and I also want to improve on low shots to my weak side.’’
Woodall is majoring in both criminal justice and political science. A good student, she’s planning on a career in the court system or in law enforcement. For the present, however, it’ll be a mix of academics and lacrosse.
“I’m working out and keeping in shape for the summer,’’ she said. “When school starts, we’ll be practicing sporadically and playing in scrimmages. The winter will involve more conditioning and our season will start in March with a trip to Florida.’’
A lot has happened for Woodall since she started playing lacrosse at the age of 10 in the King Philip youth program. “I have to credit my older brother (Joe) for getting my parents to enroll us in the youth program,’’ she said.
Woodall’s senior year should generate more success in lacrosse at Westfield State. The Owls have been dominant lately and their goaltender definitely deserves some of the credit.
Maria Woodall excelled at KP but now she’s taken her game to a higher level and she’s experiencing lots of team and individual success.