SHO TIME: Shoshi Henderson heads upfield in game this spring in her freshman season for the Pomona-Pitzer College women’s lacrosse team. Former Princeton High star Henderson came up big for the Sagehens in her debut campaign, tallying 132 points on 42 goals and 90 assists to help Pomona-Pitzer go 18-1 and advance to the Sweet 16 of the 2022 NCAA Division III Tournament. In the process, Henderson broke the Sagehens’ single-season record for points and assists and broke the NCAA Division III record for assists in a season. (Photo provided by Pomona-Pitzer College Athletics)
By Bill Alden
Shoshi Henderson wasn’t sure how much she would contribute in her freshman season this spring with the Pomona-Pitzer College women’s lacrosse team.
“My goal was to be on the field, I wanted some playing time,” said Henderson, a former Princeton High standout. “I wanted to fit in, I wanted to make a difference.”
Henderson didn’t waste any time making a difference, tallying two goals in the first 2:11 of the season opener against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) on February 23, ending up with three goals and seven assists on the day as the Sagehens prevailed 15-7.
“I was, this is my first college game, that is kind of crazy,” said 5’7 attacker Henderson. “I am pretty nervous about this, I am starting. All I want to do is just help in any way I can. I had two fast break goals right off the bat which is so fun. I had a hat trick in the first quarter. I was in shock. That game opened my eyes, like wow this could be a really good season, not only for me personally but for the team. We crushed CMS, which is unheard of.”
It turned out to be a great season for both Henderson and the Sagehens as she tallied 132 points on 42 goals and 90 assists, helping the team go 18-1 and advance to the Sweet 16 of the 2022 NCAA Division III Tournament. In the process, Henderson broke the Sagehens’ single-season record for points and assists and broke the NCAA Division III record for assists in a season.
While Pomona-Pitzer kept rolling after the opener, it wasn’t always a smooth ride.
“We definitely had some ups and downs, we had a couple of injuries,” said Henderson. “I was the only attacker who never missed a game with injury so we had a lot of different players filling in spots all over the field. We had so much depth that it never really mattered too, too much. We definitely gained confidence.”
For Henderson, a key confidence builder came when she tallied four goals and four assists in a 19-4 win at Colorado College in early March.
“I was the most nervous I have been because I had been doing so well up to that point,” said Henderson. “First of all it was snowing, it was really cold. That was our first game against a team that was supposed to be really good and in the first quarter I was super nervous. In the second quarter, I had three goals and I was good to go. We ended up crushing them and I think for me personally and the team, that was another boost for us.”
As the season went on, Henderson overcame her nerves, getting more and more comfortable with the college game.
“It is much faster game, we have a shot clock so that leads to that,” said Henderson.
“It is also the amount of what you prepare for every game. We really focused on ourselves more than on other teams but having a scout for every single game and coming in having an offensive plan was something I had not had before. It was OK, we were going to this until there is 50 seconds left on the shot clock and then we are going to run this play. At 20 seconds you can start looking for other things. There was a lot of structure but there was freedom. I really, really enjoyed it.”
While Henderson was initially torn between D-I and D-III programs when she looked at continuing her lax career at the next level, Pomona emerged as the top choice.
“It ended up being that I just felt like Pomona was a really, really good fit,” said Henderson. “I emailed the coach (Sarah Queener) and she is probably one of the nicest people I have ever talked to. She is an amazing coach and she was super excited about me in the recruiting process. She showed a lot of interest which feels good. Right off the bat, just getting on campus immediately I loved everybody I met who was on the team. They became my best friends.”
The Sagehens enjoyed an exciting playoff run, defeating rival CMS 15-11 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) postseason tournament championship game and then topping the Athenas again, 16-8, in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
While Henderson and her teammates weren’t thrilled to see neighbor CMS, which is located adjacent to the Pomona-Pitzer campus, in the NCAA tournament, they took care of business.
“We beat them three other times, what is one more, we can do it,” said Henderson. “We came into it more like think about how much they are dreading having to play us again because we have already beaten them three times. It was a really hot day and they had to play the first round the day before. They seemed deflated. We came out guns blazing, we wanted to go to Boston and play Tufts.”
Suffering their only defeat of the season, the Sagehens fell 18-10 to the third-seeded Jumbos, digging an early 9-1 hole in the first quarter that proved to be too much to overcome.
“We hadn’t really encountered a team like Tufts,” said Henderson. “We really held our own. It was really only the first quarter where they really beat us. We tied them in the second, third, and fourth quarters. Even though our season ended there, that was another major boost. If we just got our act together at the start of the game, we would have been right in there.”
After the season, Henderson got some major boosts as she was named the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Athlete of the Year and earned Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) First Team All-West Region honors.
“It was really special, honestly I could not have imagined it,” said Henderson. “I was confident in my abilities. I wanted to be able to play and make an impact but I had no idea that it would be at the level that I did. It is so special to me to get those awards and these records. It is also because of how amazing the team was. Most of it is assisting and I could not have done that without how good the other players were.”
In Henderson’s view, her success was definitely the product of a group effort.
“At one point we were leading the country in assists per game so that is everybody,” said Henderson. “That was our team culture to play like that, to move the ball. Everybody scores, everybody is involved. There were so many people who could be productive. To have my name in the NCAA record books is pretty cool.”
Looking ahead, Henderson is confident that Pomona-Pitzer will keep producing.
“We made so much progress and it is really motivating,” said Henderson. “Pomona is getting more and more attention. People want to come and we are getting better and better recruits. It is so exciting.”
This summer, Henderson is focused on making progress on and off the field.
“I want to work on driving to goal; it is fun to score but that is how you make the best opportunities for others,” said Henderson. “I want to work on just continuing to be a leader on this team and keeping the team culture really positive. We did well this year with that. We have some younger players coming in and we only lost four seniors. We are definitely very confident in our team next year.”