IMPROVING SITUATION: Jessica Frieder guards the goal this season for the Dartmouth College women’s lacrosse team. Frieder, a former standout lacrosse and soccer goalie at Princeton Day School, started all 14 games for the Big Green this spring in her senior campaign, posting a 10.60 goals against average and making 101 saves. Frieder, who had only made five appearances in her first three seasons at Dartmouth, won the team’s Most Improved Player award. (Photo Courtesy of John and Matt Risley/Dartmouth Athletics)
In her first three seasons with the Dartmouth College women’s lacrosse team, Jessica Frieder played in just five games, seeing a total of 46 seconds playing time as a sophomore and junior in her back-up goalie spot.
Despite her lack of game action, Frieder still felt very much a part of the team.
“I was behind Kristen Giovanniello, who was All-Ivy League and a great player,” said Frieder, a former Princeton Day School standout who was a star goalie in both soccer and lacrosse for the Panthers.
“I took pride in being in practice and working hard and helping the team. I was on the field every day, I was just not in 16 days. There are 30 players on the team and not everyone is going to be on the field in the games. It is not about playing time but preparing the team to play. It is a team effort and I never felt like I wasn’t a part of the wins.”
With Giovanniello graduating in 2014, Frieder earned the starting job this spring for her senior campaign.
“I think coming into the season I was nervous; I hadn’t had the playing time,” said Frieder
“As a senior leader, the defense was young and I was able to guide them. When I got the start, I kept in there.”
Frieder showed her leadership in an 8-5 loss to Princeton on March 7, making 12 saves as the Big Green nearly upset the eventual Ivy league champion Tigers.
“It was a lot of fun for me, I was very excited to play against my hometown team and show them what I could do,” said Frieder.
“Princeton and Dartmouth have a great rivalry, the girls always get excited for that one. It was the first Ivy game and we were coming out of the gates. We played really well, we just didn’t come out on top. Princeton was my breakout game. I was pretty confident after that. I was able to command the defense; I was seeing the ball well and making saves.”
While the defeat to Princeton was part of Dartmouth’s nine-game losing streak to start the season, Frieder and her teammates weren’t discouraged.
“We had a tough start but we had a really tough schedule,” said Frieder. “We were making progress every game, we were playing better each time out.”
On April 4, the Big Green broke through with a 10-9 overtime win against Cornell, triggering a late-season run which saw Dartmouth go 3-2 in its final five games to end the spring at 3-11 overall and 3-4 Ivy.
“I think that was a turning point, to finally get that win, especially in overtime; Cornell was a great team,” said Frieder.
“We just connected, we clicked. We were more consistent. Before that we were playing well for 15 minutes at a time. In the Cornell game, we played well for 60 minutes. It was a confidence builder.”
Frieder and her classmates ended their careers on a high note with a 9-8 overtime win against Columbia in the regular season finale.
“We were so determined to win, there was never a doubt in our minds,” said Frieder, who made nine saves in the victory.
“It was not as smooth as we wanted it to be. We had to fight hard and it was great to pull it out. There were definitely tears after the game, it was bittersweet. I really loved being on the team. It was sad to be done.”
While it was sad to be finished, Frieder can look back on a lot of happy times over the last four years.
“We had great careers; we won the Ivy tournament and we went to two NCAAs,” said Frieder.
“The seven of us grew together from the experiences we shared with the team. We played with a lot of heart. We were supportive of each other and we were role models to the underclassmen. We would work hard in practice.”
Frieder’s hard work paid off as she won the team’s Most Improved Player award.
“That was great, it was voted on by my teammates,” said Frieder, who started all 14 games this spring for the Big Green, posting a 10.60 goals against average and making 101 saves. “It was nice to see that they respected me. They showed confidence in me.”
Going through the ups and downs of her college lacrosse career has given Frieder extra confidence as she heads into life after Dartmouth.
“I learned so much from playing the last four years; I am grateful for the opportunity,” said Frieder, a geography major who is looking to get into the business world after graduating in mid-June.
“I loved being at the school; everyone was supportive. I was in close contact with the alums, they kept in touch. They were always sending e-mails and texts. You feel like you are part of something bigger than yourself. I learned life values that will help me in the real world. There were tough times, tough practices. You learn to be mentally tough playing in the cold like that.”