First Meeting of 2021-22 Season a Precursor to SJU's A-10 Title


Taylor Newman-Farr nearing the end of her time at Saint Joseph’s, secured her first-ever championship in any sport with Sunday’s win.

Shortly after winning the Atlantic 10 championship Sunday, Saint Joseph’s loaded up the bus and traveled back to Philadelphia.

On board, graduate attacker Rilea Fusco turned to coach Alex Kahoe, telling her that she had gotten an alert. Her phone screen lit up with a reminder that read “A-10 champions.”

Kahoe had forgotten about the alert, but as soon as Fusco showed her, the memory returned. During the first meeting of the 2021-22 season, she had told her team to program a notification for the afternoon of May 1.

“I said, ‘I want you to put in your phone ‘A-10 champions’ because that’s what we’re going to be,” Kahoe said. “This team has bought in and focused on this goal [since the beginning].”

Months later, the alert held true. The Hawks, seeded third in the A-10 tournament, accomplished the seemingly improbable. Down went No. 2 Richmond, which defeated Saint Joseph’s by 14 goals just a month ago. Then fell No. 1 UMass, which took down the Hawks by a six-goal margin when the programs met barely two weeks prior.

For Saint Joseph’s, the victories were tied to two words: “Staying disciplined.” It’s been a defining focus for the team throughout the season, Kahoe said. The mindset emphasizes focusing on the game plan, looking out for the little things and connecting with each other on and off the field.

In the ups and downs of the weekend’s matchups, Kahoe said this discipline anchored the Hawks.

Against Richmond, Saint Joseph’s was up by just one goal for the final nine minutes of the game. Graduate defender Taylor Newman-Farr said staying disciplined and “focusing on the controllables” were keys to dominating that stretch.

Up by just one goal at halftime against UMass, the Hawks controlled the second half and outscored the Minutewomen 8-3. Kahoe found discipline key to its second-half dominance, trying to tackle the little things and focusing on each opportunity presented.

This mindset carried all the way to the final minutes against the Minutewomen. Newman-Farr said she continued to tell teammates to stay disciplined even as the Hawks began to pull away in the fourth quarter.

Once the clock hit zero against the Minutewomen, Saint Joseph’s was finally able to embrace the moment. The Hawks had won their first-ever A-10 title ever, taking down UMass 15-11. Kahoe called the win “surreal,” crediting years of Saint Joseph’s alumni who helped build the program’s foundation.

Beyond “staying disciplined,” Newman-Farr said the Hawks were buoyed by a desire to keep their season alive and play like they had nothing to lose. Newman-Farr, nearing the end of her time at Saint Joseph’s, secured her first-ever championship in any sport with Sunday’s win.

“I’m still in shock,” Newman-Farr said. “It feels like it was a daydream that happened. It was electric. I have never seen every single other person on the team so excited and happy. It was great to see a smile on everyone’s face.”

Now, having grabbed the A-10’s automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament, the Hawks await their fate on Selection Sunday.

After soaking in the championship, Newman-Farr said the team has embraced having new days to play together. At this point, with no opponent set in stone, she said Saint Joseph’s is continuing to focus on what it can control and playing with no regrets.

Kahoe said she’s also emphasized recovery after the tournament, too. Saint Joseph’s played three games in four days, and she wants to ensure her players take care of themselves ahead of the NCAA tournament. Beyond that, she wants her team to take in the moment.

“This is when we’re playing some of our best lacrosse,” Kahoe said. “We want to keep that going and have fun while we’re doing it. This is a great time for everything to be coming together [and] being at [our] best.”

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