Women's Lacrosse 2013 Season Outlook
In her first year at the helm of the Wilmington University women’s lacrosse program, head coach Jackie Trainer helped lead her team to a five game improvement from the 2011 season.
Now in her second year in 2013, Trainer returns nearly her entire roster from a team that went 9-8 overall in 2012, earning the number four seed in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament at year’s end.
The Wildcats return 15 letterwinners from last year’s squad, including seven of its top 10 goal scorers, and their First Team All-CACC net minder.
Assistant coach Steve Shipe also returns for his second season with the Wildcats, again working with the goalkeepers and molding them into the quarterbacks of the defense. Joining the staff and coaching the current athletes on draws and in the attacking third is former First Team All-CACC performer Jess Graybeal.
“We want to build off the success of last year,” Trainer said. “I feel people were surprised by our improvements last year and now I don’t think teams are going to overlook us on their schedule this time around.”
Much like last year with the offense recording seven different players who tallied 20 or more goals, the points are going to be a balanced attack with all eight offensive starters returning to the field. Leading scorer Liz Case returns as a graduate student for her final season at low attack, as she recorded a team high 35 goals and 30 assists to earn First Team All-CACC status. Molly Taylor also returns as a graduate student to team up with sophomore Ashley Kroll on attack, with each Taylor and Kroll recording 21 goals a season ago. Sophomore Alli Sain returns and junior Penelope Fantis joins the team and will be counted on off the bench in the upper third of the field.
The midfield is also formed by an experienced group of returners, anchored by 2012 All-CACC members Jaclyn Hall and Brittany Rhodes. Hall was third on the team a year ago with 23 goals and second in points with 29, garnering Second Team All-CACC accolades while Rhodes, spending much of her time in the defensive third of the field, scored four goals and added two assists but was fourth on the team with 30 ground balls.
Joining Hall and Rhodes in the midfield will be sophomores Rebekah McCurry, and Megan Keffer, as well as junior Jessica Stratton. Keffer was second on the team with 24 goals in 2012 and stuck her nose in on draws, finishing with a team’s second best 29 controls. McCurry and Stratton turned it on late in the season last year, as both recorded a hat trick in the CACC Semifinals against eventual Tournament Champion Holy Family.
A bulk of the defensive third that was second in the CACC in goals against and goals against average also returns in 2013, anchored by First Team All-CACC senior goalkeeper Kaitlyn Hall. Junior net minder Corinne Dries returns after an injury plagued sophomore season to battle for minutes in the cage. Dries also has the ability to step out in front of the crease and help the defense off the bench in 2013.
In front of the net, Honorable Mention All-CACC honoree Ali Kern returns for her junior season, leading the team with 19 caused turnovers last year. Juniors Rachel Burley and Sarah Lindler also return to the defensive unit that allowed fewer than 12 goals per game. Junior Chelsie Maher will be counted on off the bench for the Wildcats, adding depth to the strong defensive group.
“All of our units have worked together in the past in game situations,” Trainer said of her experienced group. “They are all familiar with one another on the field and we didn’t really have to mix any new faces into the already talented group. We have a balanced attack with multiple and versatile scorers which doesn’t allow other teams to focus in and stop one player.”
Although the product on the field comes with experience and tons of game action, the second year head coach is more worried about what is off the field once the game gets under way.
“If we have a concern going into the season, it’s that our depth is not where it needs to be,” continued Trainer. “We are thin on the bench, but our girls are in great shape heading into the season. Our veteran leadership on the field will have to be the key this year.”
The Wildcats will play their first season on the newly built WU Athletic Complex in Newark, a new fully sized turf field that also plays home to the men’s and women’s soccer teams in the fall. After placing fourth in the CACC a season ago and with the addition of Nyack , the conference has split into two divisions for the upcoming season. The Wildcats will have to fight past Chestnut Hill, Holy Family, and Philadelphia to earn on of the two South Division playoff spots to make the CACC Tournament in 2013.
“We’re excited for the challenge of having a very strong South Division this year,” the coach said of the conference. “It will help us leading into the Tournament at the end of the season. I’m excited the CACC and the sport are picking up steam, and I’m glad the CACC is growing and hopefully this leads to us playing a bigger role in the NCAA.”
The reigning CACC Coach of the Year concluded, “We’re picking up where we left off last year and we’re improving every week. The ultimate goal is to win the CACC Championship. The girls were disappointed to stop in the semifinals last year and they are hungry to take it a step further.”