Women's Lacrosse Opens 2012 Season with Road Battles Versus West Virginia Wesleyan and Wheeling Jesuit
Thursday, March 1, 2012 - New Castle, DE
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Coming into a new season, the Wilmington University lacrosse program has a mix of experienced players and a group of new faces to get accustomed too. The biggest name change for the team happens to be at the top of the roster, as the Wildcats appointed former assistant coach Jackie Trainer to the head coach position at the start of the fall season.
After having a full non-championship season with the team, the first-year head coach is fully expecting different outcomes for the 2012 squad.
“We fully expect to make the conference (Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference) tournament this year,” Trainer said after a strong fall season and spring preseason. “We are going to improve every game and if we play for a full 60 minutes every game, we will see our team grow throughout the season.”
Accompanied by second year assistant coach Steve Shipe and newcomer Katie McCool, Trainer and the coaching staff will lean on the 13 returnees to bounce back from a 4-13 overall record in 2011.
The core of the returning experience is on the defensive side of the ball, a group that Trainer is confident can shoulder the bulk of the attention.
Senior captain Jessica Graybeal will lead the defensive group in 2012 and is the lone returning Wildcat that was named to last season’s All-CACC First Team. While switching to defense only last year, Graybeal started all 17 games, and finished with a team leading 27 caused turnovers, 20 ground balls, 17 draw controls, four goals and two assists.
Graybeal will team up with newcomer Allison Kern, who transferred from NCAA Division III Christopher Newport, to head the experienced backfield. Kern started 18 games last year, picking up 16 grounds balls while causing 10 turnovers for the Captains.
Brittany Rhodes and Rachel Burley will also step into a dominant starting role on the defense this season. Rhodes played in 15 games last season, causing 15 turnovers and grabbing 18 ground balls.
Also playing key roles on defense will Sarah Lindler and Monica Weil. The sophomores add great speed to the team and will fight for time off the bench to change the tempo of each game.
Transitioning the ball from the defensive unit to the attack will be vital for the Wildcats, but Trainer will draw upon more experience to get the job done.
Senior captain Rebecca Guethler and classmate Kory Webster return for their final seasons in the midfield. Guethler started all 17 games last year and was second on the team in caused turnovers with 23. She scored 16 goals and added six assists last year as well. Webster started six games last year before a knee injury sidelined her for the rest of the campaign. Now healthy, Webster will look to build off her eight goals, four assists and 11 draw controls from a year ago.
Junior Molly Taylor and sophomores Meggan Apgar and Jessica Stratton also return for another season as a Wildcat. Apgar will look to be the specialist in the circle on draws, after winning 31 a season ago. Taylor started 16 games a year ago, scoring 17 goals and again will look to use her speed and smart game sense in the midfield attack. Stratton played in 16 games last season, scoring four goals and four assists while picking up 19 ground balls.
Newcomers Rebekah McCurry and junior transfer Jaclyn Hall will also see time in the midfield this season. McCurry will also be used on the draw while Trainer will look to use Hall’s height and emerging leadership on the outside.
The third of the field with the least collective experience is the attacking third, but Trainer brings a talented group to the offense. Senior captain Liz Case is the team’s returning leading scorer, tallying 21 goals while dishing out a team high 23 assists last year. Case was named a 2011 All-CACC Second Team member last season.
“Although Liz is our leading returning scorer, the offense is not only going to go through her,” Trainer said of the offense. “We have so many other players that can score this year.”
Two of those scoring threats will be freshmen Ashley Kroll and Megan Keffer. Kroll will team up with Case on the low attack and has shown the hard work and dedication to be a key contributor. Keffer looks to be Trainer’s “change-up” off the bench, and will also contribute with her speed in the midfield.
The lone sophomore of the group, Chelsie Maher, played in 10 games last season, scoring four goals and added one assist. Freshmen Jackie Mayhart and Allison Sain will also work into the mix off the bench on offense.
The final blockade to keep the ball out of the cage will rely on two individuals. Sophomore Corrine Dries played every minute of every game last season, and returns to the Wildcats after making 154 saves a year ago. Junior transfer Kaitlyn Hall will also fight for playing time in goal, as each player had fed off each other during preseason.
Trainer’s decision in goal may come down to who the team is playing and the offensive style of the opposition. Both goalies provide strong qualities that could be tailored towards different styles of play.
Although only in her first year, Trainer expects the team to grow and improve from last season’s results.
“We have leadership at every position of the field,” the coach said of her returning players. “We have a captain and returners at every end of the field. We have experience coming back that knows the CACC and have started before. Now I want our new girls to come out and make an impact and not play like newcomers. If they play with confidence and are aggressive, we will be successful.”
Trainer concluded, “We have put the time and work in. They have been doing things they have not done in the past and we are excited to get into the season and conference play.”