The women’s lacrosse team is confident coming off a bit of a mixed season last year. Last year’s squad demonstrated it could compete with the best, recording wins against multiple ranked teams including then-No. 6 Penn State. However, the year did not end how it wanted with the Tigers losing both of their postseason contests in double-time, the latter of which was a 10-9 loss to No. 8 Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Tigers have put last season behind them, however, and are ready for a fresh start. They go into the season ranked 16th in the IWLCA preseason poll and will have many chances to move up in the polls as they have six other ranked teams on their schedule.
Junior attack Erin McMunn is expected to be a huge part of the Tigers’ offense. She led the Ivy League in points last year with 69. Her 40 goals were fourth best in the league while her 29 assists were second-best. This helped earn her first-team All-Ivy honors and the Ivy League Attacker of the Year award, making her only the second sophomore to ever win the award.
Senior middie Sarah Lloyd, sophomore defender Liz Bannantine and senior goalkeeper Caroline Franke are all also returning members who earned All-Ivy honors.
Head coach Chris Sailer also mentioned sophomore middie Anya Gersoff as a player to watch.
“We expected a lot of her as a freshman, but she missed the fall due to field hockey, and this year, with a season of lax under her belt, she’s really coming on strong,” Sailer said. “We’ve moved her position to midfield, so she still has a lot to learn on the defensive side of the ball, but she should be a critical player for us.”
Sailer also mentioned that senior attack Mary-Kate Sivilli and senior defender Liz Cutting are playing exceptionally well and have also stepped up as on-field leaders to help share the leadership role with senior captains middie Sarah Lloyd and defender Colleen Smith.
The team lost five players this year, including their third- and fourth- leading scorers in attack Jaci Gassaway ’13 and middie Charlotte Davis ’13, respectively.
The team took in seven new freshmen, three of which are expected to start the Tigers’ first game. The group of freshmen includes three defenders, three midfielders and a goalkeeper.
“We had high expectations for this year’s freshman class, and they have certainly lived up to the advance billing,” Sailer said. “Our freshmen are an athletic group, and they’ve been doing a great job learning from the upperclassmen and the coaching staff, picking up our systems and contributing on the field.”
“I’d say this team is pretty different from last year’s team, but in a very good way,” McMunn added regarding how the team has changed as a whole. “We were a very talented, driven team last year with great leadership in our senior class, and I think that is something that this year’s returners have been able to carry over, but I think we’ve done it with a different mentality.”
Both McMunn and Sailer mentioned the team’s new motto of “The Power of Now.”
“This year is all about loving the game and being in the now, and I think that’s a mentality that our senior leaders have really embraced,” McMunn said. “We’re driven this year very much so by our love of playing the game, and I think that’s what’s going to be the difference maker for us.”
Sailer mentioned that while the team does have long-term goals such as winning a 10th Ivy League title and being a factor in the national championship race, it is approaching these goals by focusing on the day-to-day processes that are important in achieving these goals.
Sailer also mentioned that the attack and midfield units are looking particularly good this year.
“We are playing very well together and looking for each other a lot in our attack sets,” she said. “I expect we’ll have a lot of assisted goals again this year, with a team that loves to set each other up. Our stick work overall is solid, and we have some talented finishers on the team.”
The Tigers dominated at home last year, going undefeated in all seven contests at Sherrerd Field. If the Tigers can continue their home dominance, they could be in very good shape by the end of the regular season as they have home games against powerhouses such as Virginia, Maryland and Penn.
The Tigers are looking to improve upon their defense – an area in which the team is normally strong.
“Getting our middies playing more with the first D unit, and having that group really begin to play together as a fierce team – communicating more directly, executing the slide packages and reading the game,” Sailer mentioned as things the team needs to do. “Defense has always been a strength of our team, and this group will be ready.”
The season will start for the Tigers when they take on Loyola in Baltimore, Md. this Saturday at 1 p.m. The team’s home opener will then be the following Wednesday at 6 p.m. against Rutgers.