UWL Women’s Lacrosse Senior Spotlight


From left to right: Senior goalkeeper Ellen Coggio, junior midfielder Valerie Johnson and junior attacker Samantha Sonstegard.

Julia Van Fleet, Sports Reporter

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse women’s lacrosse team has started its second season with a record of 4-4 as of their last game on Mar. 27, 2021 against Carthage College. Despite losing that game, the Eagles have won against Augustana on Mar. 6, Augsburg University on Mar. 12, and Wartburg College on Mar. 13. 

Saturday, Mar. 27 marked the team’s Senior Day, which celebrates those who are seniors or juniors graduating early. 

The women’s lacrosse team is new to UWL’s athletic department, with the 2020 season marking the beginning of their competition before COVID-19 ended their season early. Before there was an NCAA-regulated team, UWL had a club lacrosse team that the three seniors competed on.  

While two of the seniors, Valerie Johnson and Samantha Sonstegard, both Minnesota natives, had played lacrosse from a young age, senior Ellen Coggio had not played until joining the club team in college.  

“I wanted to live my dream of playing a college sport,” said Coggio. 

Once the NCAA-regulated team was created, the three joined the team and have watched the program grow in their time as athletes.  

“It’s cool that the three of us have been here since the beginning,” said Sonstegard. 

One of their duties as upperclassmen on the team is to maintain a leadership role to guide the underclassmen.  “She [Coach Cassandra Berger] has a good group of freshmen, who are a great base for this team,” said Sonstegard. 

In the 2020-21 season, the team is rostering 16 freshmen out of the 24 total athletes. While this may be seen as a challenge to some, the seniors see this as a good opportunity for the underclassmen. “We have so many freshmen,” Coggio said. “However, they are in a great spot to contribute, which makes it really fun.” 

Johnson also sees the young team as a great aspect to the sport. “I like the girls. It has been really cool to get to know a bunch of new people,” she said.  

While none of the seniors will retain the eligibility granted with the impact of COVID-19, they all have personal and team goals for the season. 

Johnson said that her goal is to help gain team chemistry, which she says is already steadily improving. “It is such a positive environment,” Johnson said. “We are always smiling and goofing around, which makes it fun.” 

Coggio shares these sentiments, saying that freshman goalie Abi Furlano has been a bright spot for this season. “She helps me, and we are always building each other up,” said Coggio.

Sonstegard has similar goals, which is to help the program grow.  “I want all the girls to stay, and I want this team to become a family,” said Sonstegard 

After this season, Sonstegard and Johnson will graduate early in December 2021, as they both have a junior standing athletically. Both will move onto graduate school, with Sonstegard pursuing Physical Therapy and Johnson pursuing Occupational Therapy. Coggio, however, will stay an extra year at UWL and play club hockey, which she has been a part of since her freshman year.  

“I want to cool down from senior year, and just give me time to relax,” said Coggio 

Until then, the three say they want to focus on their season and make the best of it.  “I want to play every game like it is my last,” said Sonstegard

Senior goalkeeper Ellen Coggio.
Photograph of Valerie Johnson.
Junior midfielder Valerie Johnson.
Photograph of Samantha Sonstegard.
Junior attacker Samantha Sonstegard.









To view the women’s lacrosse team’s record and upcoming games, visit their website.