From left, freshmen goalkeeper Samantha Sagi, pitcher Peter Woltersdorf and goalkeeper James Spence. All three athletes played important roles on their teams during their freshmen campaigns. (Ben Wang, Lexy King/B&W Staff, Courtesy of Lehigh Sports)

Freshman athletes share their first-year team experiences

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Freshmen pitcher Peter Woltersdorf and lacrosse goalkeepers Samantha Sagi and James Spence each had different first-year experiences but all played important roles on their teams.

Attending Lehigh made sense to Woltersdorf for several reasons. He said he always wanted to play Division I baseball, and by choosing Lehigh, he was able to stay close his New Jersey home while pursuing his academic interests, finance and accounting.

The standout freshman said one of his favorite parts of being a Mountain Hawk is being part of a high-performing groups of athletes and students.

“I feel like this adds an extra level of respect to both the athletics program and university in general,” Woltersdorf said.

Woltersdorf took advantage of his first year at Lehigh, rotating in the pitching lineup fairly often throughout the year, throwing a no-hitter against St. Peter’s University and earning Patriot League Rookie of the Week twice.

Though Woltersdorf is happy and excited about the success he found during his freshman campaign, he recognizes there are areas in which he can improve.

“I know that I need to continue developing a change-up,” Woltersdorf said. “Adding another pitch to your arsenal is always helpful in keeping hitters off balance and getting them out. I also need to work on having more consistent command of my pitches and having the ability to throw the ball exactly where I want to in the strike zone.”

Woltersdorf said he hopes to grow into one of the team’s starting pitchers and help lead the Mountain Hawks to the postseason, which they missed this year.

While Woltersdorf has his eyes set on starting for the program, both Sagi and Spence were immediately thrown into starting positions before making their debuts as Lehigh lacrosse players.

Sagi chose to come to Lehigh so she could attend a top engineering school and join a competitive women’s lacrosse program. She expected to compete against some of the best women’s lacrosse teams in the country but was surprised when she was chosen to start and defend the goal.

“This season was and was not what I expected,” Sagi said. “I knew coming in the team was super focused on doing well and having fun, but I didn’t expect I would be able to contribute right away, but with the support of the coaches and teammates, I was able to do the best I could.”

Spence said he had an amazing first season as the starting goalie for the Lehigh men’s lacrosse team. Despite his first season ending in a loss at the Patriot League championships, he said he was happy with how much the team accomplished.

To Spence, the standout moment of the season was the team’s overtime win at the Patriot League semifinals.

“It was a rough start, but we as a defense adapted and had a great second half, and I thought as a team it was one of our best games we played all season,” Spence said. “It was also cool because (Lucas), my older brother, scored the game-winning goal in overtime to take us to the Patriot League championships.”

One of Sagi’s favorite memories of her freshman campaign was the women’s lacrosse team’s game against Penn State.

“They were ranked 18th in the nation at the time, and we were able to hang with them throughout the entire game,” Sagi said. “We ended up losing by one, but it set the tone for the year that we can challenge and maybe beat a top-20 team.”

Moving forward, Sagi has high hopes for the Mountain Hawks and is excited to grow with the young team to become part of a winning dynasty for years to come.

Spence said he is focused on making another championship run, but this time winning it with the teammates he considers family.

“The guys from day one took us in like brothers and made us feel a part of something special,” Spence said.

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