Women's Lacrosse 2013 Season Outlook
After missing the postseason in 2012 the Princeton women's lacrosse team will use that as its biggest motivator heading into the 2013 season. Getting back on top of the Ivy League as well as being a national contender will be built around maintaining consistency and building on success.
"Last year, our biggest problem was with consistency," head coach Chris Sailer said. "We had some great wins followed by backbreaking losses. Coming off such a strong 2011 season, I think we just expected we'd be really good in 2012. It was a tough pill to swallow being left out of the postseason tournaments, but a huge motivator heading into 2013. This year's group has learned a lot from that experience. They understand that getting better as a team is a daily commitment, and they have impressed me with their intensity and focus. Our leadership has been excellent, and the team has bought in. We're betting we'll turn some heads in 2013, as we reassert ourselves as a dominant program in the Ivies and the nation."
The Tigers have gotten a jump start on team bonding, filling in gaps left by the Class of 2012 and finding new leaders to guide this year's team after an international trip in October. Princeton traveled to Malta and England during the University's fall break.
"Our trip to Malta and London was so great for this team," Sailer said. "To travel abroad together and experience new cultures and sights as a team had a profoundly positive effect on this group, cementing relationships and cohesiveness, and creating lifelong memories. We had so much fun together on the trip, and even now, months later, we constantly laugh and tell stories of our adventures. In terms of team bonding, we couldn't have asked for a better experience. On the competitive side, being able to continue our training after fall ball and compete so well against the English national teams has given us an edge in our preparation and our confidence as we head into preseason."
Senior co-captain Jaci Gassaway and sophomore Erin McMunn will provide a huge 1-2 punch for the Tigers on offense. Gassaway led the team in scoring last year with 54 points on 38 goals and 16 assists. McMunn led the team in assists with 30 and added 18 goals for 48 points. During fall ball, McMunn showed new confidence in shooting and will be a scoring threat as well.
Senior Sam Ellis was in double digits in scoring with 16 points on nine goals and seven assists last season. Sailer will be counting on her to play a major role in this year's attacking unit. Junior Mary-Kate Sivilli made eight starts and played in all but one game. She scored 10 goals and added nine assists in 2012, and according to Sailer, she's emerging as a big threat in 2013. Classmate Grace Bowen saw limited time in 2012 but made it count, scoring on both of her shots on goal. Another player looking to make an impact on offense is sophomore Erika Grabbi.
There will be brand new faces on offense as well, with freshmen Alexandra Bruno, Anya Gersoff and Stephanie Paloscio all in the mix for significant playing time. Bruno ranked No. 3 on the Top 25 Rising Freshman list put out by Inside Lacrosse this summer. Against the English national teams this fall, Bruno led the rookies in scoring and was fourth overall with six goals and one assist for seven points. Paloscio was also an active scorer in London collecting four points. Gersoff, a top recruit out of Colorado, is coming off of a national championship with the Princeton field hockey team. She's been getting more and more comfortable on the lacrosse field every day, and should be a big contributor this spring.
The top Tiger midfield unit is talented and tested. Senior Charlotte Davis will be a leader in organizing the unit. She was fourth on the team in scoring last year with 20 goals and five helpers, and was solid on defense and through transition for the Tigers.
Controlling the center circle is the duo of junior Sarah Lloyd and sophomore Erin Slifer. Lloyd led the team in draws last season with 43, and was second in caused turnovers with 13 and fourth in ground balls with 22. Lloyd was fifth on the team in scoring with 22 points on 17 goals and five assists. Slifer was second on the team in draws with 35, while picking up 12 ground balls. She also scored 10 goals and added seven assists for 17 points.
Other players looking for time in midfield are freshman Anna Menke, sophomore Blake Dietrick and junior Kellie Ragg. Menke proved strong around the center circle, winning six draws in matches against England. Dietrich, a member of the women's basketball team, won't join the squad until her winter season is complete. She was an all-star in both sports in high school and was recruited by Sailer, but focused only on basketball in her freshman year.
The defense should be the backbone of the Tigers this year. Headlining the unit is senior co-captain Caroline Rehfuss, who has been a starter since her freshman year. Rehfuss is playing with fire and intelligence, and seems poised for a standout season. She was third on the team in caused turnovers last year with 11, fifth in ground balls with 15 and had five draw controls. Rehfuss also gets involved offensively as she scored on her only shot of the goal of the season and assisted on three goals.
Another solid contributor on defense is junior Colleen Smith. A physically strong and aggressive player, Smith appeared in every game last year and had 12 ground balls, eight draws and five caused turnovers.
Senior Jenna Davis, who has battled injuries nearly her entire collegiate career, showed major talent in London. She led the team in caused turnovers with six, while adding four grounds balls. Davis played in just one game last year, the season opener where she suffered a season-ending injury. Sailer may also use her at midfield, to give depth to that unit.
Junior Liz Cutting has asserted herself on the field this year, and should help fill the shoes of graduated defenders and All-America . Junior Erin Williams, who played well this fall after seeing limited time in 2012, and freshman Liz Bannantine, ranked No. 11 on the Inside Lacrosse Top 25 Rising Freshman list, will battle for a starting position as well.
Rounding out the defense are sophomores Jess Nelson and Erin Curley, both of whom are much improved from 2012, and freshmen Maddy Lynch and Tate Crosby, who is on the mend from an injury suffered this fall.
One of the biggest question marks Tiger fans had last year was who would fill the big shoes left by All-America Erin Tochihara in goal. Freshman Annie Woehling dispatched any concerns as soon as the season got underway. She began her career with a career-best 2.40 goals against average at Villanova with two caused turnovers. Woehling started in all 15 games last year and made 101 saves for a .412 save percentage and a 9.50 GAA She is not easily intimidated as she made a season-high 13 saves in a 9-7 win over No. 10 Virginia and had five ground balls against the Cavaliers. Backing her up is junior Caroline Franke who has seen time in each of the last two years. A talented goalie in her own right, Franke should be ready when called on this season.
Princeton opens the season hosting Villanova on Feb. 23. The Tigers will host six other opponents on the brand new Sherrerd Field at Class of 1952 Stadium, including first-year program USC on March 3. Non-conference games at home include: Johns Hopkins on March 23 and Penn State on April 27. Ivy League teams coming to Princeton include: Brown on March 9, Columbia on March 27 and Harvard on April 13.