Back From Injury, Sam Fiedler Playing Key Role For Loyola Women’s Lacrosse

At a recent practice, the Loyola women’s lacrosse team finished stretching, began its traditional rhythmic clapping, gathered in a tight circle and let loose the kind of inspiring chant that so many teams shout in unison to motivate themselves.

“Wine Merchant!” the players yelled.

Wait. What?

“I say it in the most endearing way, and I tell it to them to their face, but they’re probably one of the weirdest groups I’ve ever coached,” 14th-year Greyhounds coach Jen Adams joked.

They’re also one of Adams’ best groups, which is saying something for a program that has averaged 13.7 victories the last 12 full seasons. Loyola has won 13 of its first 14 games this year, and the Greyhounds look ready to be a serious threat in the Patriot League tournament and beyond.

Loyola is a talented, driven team that can find inspiration even from ordering takeout from its favorite deli, hence that chant.

“We do have some random chants sometimes,” Loyola graduate student Sam Fiedler admitted sheepishly. “If you were watching us from afar, you’d wonder what was going on out there, the way we all yell and break into dancing and things like that. We have a lot of fun.”

Fiedler said she doesn’t dance as much as some, and despite being a team leader, she’s not as vocal as many of her teammates. She’s simply a steady rock on a team that’s rolling.

The Reisterstown, Md., product is third on the high-scoring squad with 46 points on 26 goals and 20 assists. Fellow grad student Livy Rosenzweig is leading the team in goals with 48, and freshman Georgia Latch is tops on the team in assists with 25. It’s a small sample size but highlights the diversity Adams nourishes and believes is part of Loyola’s success.

The team’s five grad students and five seniors are part of that success, too.

“Our experience is playing out very well for us and I think it has been fun for the older girls to take the younger ones under their wings and show them the way,” the coach said. “It has helped kind of [reinforce] our culture and make sure it is where it needs to be after COVID.”

Fiedler has seen the same thing, too.

“The young girls have really added something with their different personalities and the way they push the older [players],” she said. “They’ve come in and filled in some gaps and now we’re all just having fun and being out there with our friends, bringing the hard work and positivity every day.”

That fun, hard work and positivity translated to nine consecutive wins to start the season before Syracuse knocked Loyola from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 14-13 decision. The Greyhounds bounced back the next game, with 11 different players scoring in a 21-7 victory against Holy Cross.

“It has been incredible for us to have that kind of depth [in scoring],” said Adams. “It takes some pressure off Livy and Sam, coming back, getting her feet back under her after her injury. Every game, it’s someone new stepping up for us and that’s a very good sign.”

Having Fiedler back from an Achilles injury is also very good. A 2021 Tewaaraton Award Watch List candidate, Fiedler scored multiple goals in her first 10 games before she went down with the injury on April 16, 2021. Her .667 shooting percentage was the third highest in Division I lacrosse. The Greyhounds were on a seven-game winning streak when she was lost for the season.

Fiedler knew immediately that she had a “big problem” when she went down untouched against Bucknell a year ago. It was such a sudden pain that she thought someone had kicked her. Surgery followed on the torn Achilles and then a hard summer back home rehabbing four to five hours a day.

When school started in the fall, Fiedler still couldn’t run but she was at every practice and worked all the way back into the lineup by the time the season opened at Johns Hopkins Feb. 19.

“She missed a whole fall being around this group,” Adams said of Fiedler. “We talk about connection, but she hadn’t played with the players like Sydni Black [now in a larger role] and Georgia Latch, so Sam is finding her way. We still have a lot of games to play and she’s just scratching the surface.”

Fiedler started slowly this spring but had four goals in a rout of Penn State March 5 and the go-ahead score against Florida March 11. Fiedler has become the sixth midfielder in Loyola history to score 150 career goals and she’s still climbing the all-time lists, leading by example and providing a steadying influence for her diverse and eclectic teammates.

“She’s a leader, more by example and I think her teammates have been inspired by her example working so hard to get back,” Adams said. “She’s soft-spoken, but she plays loud.”

So does her teammate and close friend Rosenzweig, a three-time All-American and Katonah, N.Y., native. The two feed off each other. For instance, Fiedler has an instinctive ability to cut and find openings for Rosenzweig to feed her the ball out of constant double teams and overplays teams use to slow down the perennial Patriot League all-star.

“Livy is one of my best friends and so fun to play with because she’s so unselfish,” Fiedler said. “She’s so good going to goal, so quick and such a dynamic threat. I think we’ve worked so well together over the years because we have a bond on and off the field.”

Adams would smile if she heard those words. It’s that “connection” to which she often refers regarding her team, the secret ingredient in the Loyola lacrosse recipe.

“As people continue to figure out their roles you see them getting more confident. That’s resulting in a lot of goals and production,” Adams said. “I know when we’re scouting other teams, the further we have to go down and look at matchups and worry about [scorers] the harder it becomes. I think about that with our team. Where do you draw the line? That’s one of the big reasons we’ve been successful.”

Meanwhile, the team’s veteran foundation has allowed Loyola coaches to try new things, tweaking offensive and defensive schemes with experienced players able to grasp more and do more. It has been a byproduct of these COVID years, keeping a group together, even one as diverse, and yes, “weird” as these Greyhounds.

Veterans like Fiedler have been vital, with their experience, joy and competitiveness trickling down throughout the program. Adams remembers recruiting Fiedler at Garrison Forest High School, and how effortless she made it look while leaving an “imprint on every part of the game.” Despite a diminutive 5-foot, 6-inch frame, Fiedler often leads the team in the weight room. She has a “competitiveness and scrap built in,” Adams said. “We didn’t have to teach her.”

Fiedler’s just happy to be back on the field now.

“It’s just so great to be playing again,” Fiedler said. “That’s something I think about when times aren’t so good like a loss or a bad day in practice. I just try to remember, ‘I’m out here and I wasn’t for so long.’ It has really been fun the way things are clicking.”

For Fiedler and a hungry Loyola team, things are clicking. Right down to celebrating the next meal.

All statistics are entering play against Bucknell April 20.

Photo Credit: Larry French

Issue 274: April/May 2022

Originally published April 20, 2022

Mike Ashley

See all posts by Mike Ashley. Follow Mike Ashley on Twitter at @lrgsptswrtr