The Connecticut College women´s lacrosse season has arrived and the team is ready to challenge for a post-season berth in the powerful New England Small College Athletic Conference.
Head coach Heather McClelland has assembled a roster that combines youth and experience. Led by tri-captains Abby Hill, Cookie Smith, and Kylee Yam, the Camels have worked together to develop team chemistry on and off the field. McClelland feels the team is ready to take the next step and move up in the league standings.
"We´ve got a young team but show a lot of potential and have high expectations going into this year," McClelland said. "We also have strong leadership in key areas on the field."
A good goalie is the key building block to any team´s success. In an impressive rookie season between the pipes, Ashleigh Kowtoniuk was the league leader in save percentage (.545) and in saves per game (11.14). Kowtoniuk will look to build on those numbers as the starter this spring. Kelsey Burke will back up Kowtoniuk in her first year with the program.
The Camels should be able to protect Kowtoniuk with an experienced defensive corps in place. Cookie Smith, a 2009 IWLCA All-Region standout, has corralled 60 ground balls and caused 32 turnovers during her first three years with the program. Kylee Yam enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2009 with 20 ground balls for the Camels and has the speed and open field vision to push the ball up field in the transition game.
Kristen Dirmaier is an excellent decision maker who can frustrate opponents with her tenacious style of play. Dirmaier has accounted for 56 ground balls and 23 caused turnovers and will continue to be relied upon as a seasoned stopper in the backfield.
Sophomores Dee Ezzio (six ground balls) and Grace Megaffin (seven ground balls) will both contribute to the defensive unit. Molly Murphy, a first year player, will also contend for time on the defensive side of the ball.
The Camels have speed and experience in their midfield unit. Junior Abby Hill, a 2009 IWLCA All-Region Selection, excels in all facets of the game. In just two years with the program, Hill has already racked up 66 draw controls, 46 ground balls and 32 points.
Sophomore Hope Barone buried 22 goals while winning 34 draws as one of the top newcomers to the NESCAC a year ago. Sophomore Ashleigh Crutchfield tallied 10 goals, three assists and 13 points in her rookie season and should build on those totals this spring.
Freshman Brianna Miller has the speed and stick to make an immediate impact to this group. Caroline Corbett and Cameron Flaherty will be working their way into the rotation as first year players.
On the offensive side of the ball, senior Sara Christopher should continue to be a go-to player in all situations. Christopher tallied a career-best 26 goals in her junior season and is closing in on her 100th point with 66 goals and 29 assists for 95 points. Sophomore Katelyn Driscoll is a versatile talent who notched 18 goals, 18 ground balls and five draw controls last season.
Diane Essis (three goals) and Paige Cowie (two goals) will look to take a step forward in their second year with the program. Libby Nichols, Kelsey Nickerson, Maura Brazel and Emily Hines are ready to contribute as first year players for the Camels as well.
This season, McClelland will be joined by assistant coaches Mary-Kate Geratowski and Channing Weymouth on the sidelines.
Geratowski, a 2008 graduate of Elmira, is serving as the defensive coordinator in her first year at Connecticut College. Weymouth has plenty of familiarity with the league as a 2006 graduate of Middlebury College and will be working on the offensive side of the ball.
The Camels open the season Saturday with a 12:00 p.m. game against Trinity College in New London.
March 10, 2010