Women's Lacrosse Prepares for 2014 Season

Contact: Mike O'Brien

PRESEASON HIGHLIGHT VIDEO

Ludlow2.jpgSEASON OUTLOOK   
Amherst is poised for a successful 2014 campaign after posting a 9-6 overall record and 5-5 NESCAC mark last spring. Despite the loss of three key seniors, head coach Christine Paradis returns one of the most experienced squads in recent years and is optimistic with the return of depth and leadership in key positions at both ends of the field.

“The combination of depth, talent and determination should prove to be key as we set our goals to go further in the NESCAC tournament and ultimately look to extend our postseason,” said Paradis. “The squad is maintaining its focus on the present moment and working hard each day.”

The experienced roster features 11 returning players (including five senior captains) and a nine-member sophomore class that saw plenty of action a year ago. Amherst’s experience and depth will be crucial to the team’s success as they face another difficult task of competing in one of the league’s premier conferences. The NESCAC features six programs ranked in the top-20 nationally and four NCAA tournament teams from a year ago. Heading into the season, Amherst ranks No. 14 in the IWLCA National Preseason Division III Poll.

“Every game in the NESCAC is a grind, you can’t overlook any team” said Paradis. “Anything can happen on any given day.”

Amherst opens the 2014 season on the road and will head to Maine to face Bates March 11th. They return to action March 5th for their home opener against Babson before consecutive games against 2013 NCAA tournament teams, No. 8 Bowdoin at home on March 8th followed by Springfield on March 13th. Five days later, they head to Orlando, Fla. for their spring break trip to face William Smith and No. 15 Hamilton.

Upon their arrival back to Massachusetts, Amherst will head to Wheaton before hosting back-to-back games at Gooding Field against No. 3 Middlebury and Little Three rival Wesleyan. Amherst is then faced with the difficult task of playing No. 9 Colby on the road, the team that knocked them out of the conference championship last year. They return home for two more NESCAC games against Conn. College and Tufts and conclude the regular season with three consecutive road games at Skidmore, Williams, and at 2013 NCAA runner-up, No. 2 Trinity College.

Philie2.jpgATTACK    
Despite the difficult task of replacing All-American Hillary Densen, the team returns a solid core of attackers. Headlining the group are senior captains Caroline Holliday, Elizabeth Ludlow, Krista Zsitvay and Alex Philie. The talented group returns with incredible experience and great leadership abilities. Philie was one of two Amherst players to record double-digit points (18) and assists (10) in 2013, earning her Second Team All-Conference and All-America honors, as well as a First Team All-Region laurel. The two-time all-conference and all-region selection also led the team in draw controls (46), and looks to play both attack and midfield this season.

Joining them will be Priscilla Tyler ’15, the team’s leading goal scorer a year ago. Tyler totaled 27 goals as a sophomore and ranked sixth in the NESCAC in shot percentage (62.8). Her incredible 2013 season was capped off with a Second Team All-Region selection.

Adding depth up front will be Sarah Spector ’15 and sophomores Devin O’Connor and Rachel Passarelli. All three will look to have a more significant role in the team’s attack this season while O’Connor and Passarelli may drop back to the midfield on occasion. Paradis is also excited for the contributions of talented first-year attackers Coco Kusiak, Claire Cagnassola, Jaqui Roth and Kate Wyeth.

MIDFIELD  
When Philie isn’t on the attack, the All-American will lead a talented and experienced midfield unit. Joining her is fellow captain Krista Zsitvay ’14 as well as Meghan Mills ’15 and Mia Haughton ’16. Zsitvay looks incredibly strong this preseason after being injured for most of 2013, and looks to make a significant impact in her senior season. Mills, a First Team All-Region selection as a sophomore last year, was fifth on the team in scoring (15 goals) and second in draw controls (31), while Haughton started 12 games as a first-year and ranked third on the squad in assists (8).

Passarelli and O’Connor are also expected to see time in the midfield as well as sophomores Meghan McDonough and Katie Paolano. Newcomers Hanna Krueger and Andrea Rijo will give the team depth this season in the midfield.

Fusco2.jpgDEFENSE    
After missing the entire 2013 season due to injury, Amherst welcomes back senior captain Annelies O’Dea. In her return to the field, O’Dea will be joined by a veteran and talented defense featuring juniors Heath Cockrell, Kerry Fusco and Fiona Dearth. Cockrell gives Amherst plenty of experience and talent on the defensive end as she enters her junior season. Cockrell started all 15 games a year ago and finished with 19 ground balls, tied for third most on the team. Fusco was one of five players to start all 15 games a year ago and registered 19 ground balls and 10 draw controls. Dearth also brings plenty of game experience to the lineup, starting 10 games as a sophomore while racking up 14 ground balls.

While Paolano and McDonough figure to give Amherst depth on the defensive side as well, the team will also look at sophomores Emy Kelty, Gina Lambiase and Katie Reilly to provide a presence in the back unit. First-year defender Kate Conway will also look to make contributions this season.

After a stellar first-year campaign, Christy Forrest ’16 returns to goal with high expectations. The sophomore earned First Team All-Region a year ago and ranked second in the NESCAC in save percentage (54.1). Quinn Phillips ’17 joins the team this spring to give Amherst depth at the position.

“As coaches, we expect the team to work hard, stay in the moment and challenge themselves both individually and collectively to be their best,” added Paradis. “If we do this, all things point to a successful season.”