Olivia Muscella scores twice in 17-14 loss against UConn

The captain created the Kendra’s Kindness Foundation in honor of her mother

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Maya Geer/Daily Collegian

By Sophie Weller, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team took the field for warmups in bright white shirts, with the words Kendra’s Kindness decorating the back. The Foundation was created by captain Olivia Muscella and her impact on Saturday extended far past the game itself.

“Throughout the game and all the publicity, it was a true player led initiative, with [Muscella] taking the lead on it,” head coach Angela McMahon-Serpone said. “Knowing that we are playing for something bigger than us when there’s a lot of people that would love to be out here running around that can’t be, and to not take anything for granted.”

UConn took the lead early in the fourth quarter, going ahead by two goals, but the Minutewomen (3-2) remained determined. Muscella scored a free position shot and narrowed the deficit to one with eight minutes remaining. However, her efforts were not enough to overcome the Huskies’ (4-1) lead and high pressure.

In the second period, Muscella scored her first goal of the game after receiving the ball at the top of the circle and charging towards the net, getting it past the stick of UConn goalkeeper Landyn White. She ended the half with four draw controls and caused two turnovers, including one in the final minutes where she intercepted a pass in the midfield and helped create a scoring opportunity.

“Her maturity and leadership is just amazing,” McMahon-Serpone said. “She’s such an inspiration … I think the world of her. She’s improved in every facet. She’s been an amazing captain for us.”

Muscella’s motivation was elevated throughout the game because of a special purpose.

The Head Strong Foundation was created by Nick Colleluori, who received an academic scholarship to Hofstra University for lacrosse and earned a starting role as a freshman, making significant contributions despite being new to the team. However, towards the end of the season, he started to struggle hearing play calls and cheers. After waking up one morning and being unable to hear out of his right ear, he was diagnosed with a blood cancer that affects the lymphatic system. Colleluori’s dying wish was that this foundation be continued, and his legacy helps others.

The fighter fund was created by this foundation that allowed for smaller funds to be created to support other families affected by cancer. Muscella did just that, creating Kendra’s Kindness in honor of her mother, Kendra Muscella, who was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2019 and passed away in 2020. With this foundation she has been able to host multiple events including a golf outing during Thanksgiving and Saturday’s game against UConn.

“It is unbelievable and from the day that my wife was diagnosed, the UMass family has been so supportive of us,” Michael Muscella, Muscella’s father said.

Kendra was able to attend Muscella’s freshman and sophomore season games, but after she was diagnosed during her sophomore year, her parents refused to let her come home, stating that they wanted her to play lacrosse. Kendra was known for being the Minutewomen’s biggest supporters, lining up for hugs following the game and making cookies for the players. Her spirit remains with the team throughout every matchup.

“Headstrong and Kendra’s Kindness are super special to me,” Muscella said. “It’s so awesome to know that it’s also special to [my teammates] and they’re able to help out and know the impact of their support.”

This fundraiser will go for the entire season, and the foundation has already raised over $10,000. Donations can be made here.

Sophie Weller can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @SophieeWellerr.