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Division II preview: WCU gears for title defense; Philadelphia U., Chestnut Hill, Holy Family enter CACC

Sunday, 1st March 2009

Categories College, Girl's/Women's  

By Chris Goldberg, posted 3/1/09

    The West Chester women’s lacrosse team has all the ingredients necessary to defend its Division II national championship.

    The Golden Rams lose only one player from their second national title team – although that one player, Steph Kienle (Henderson), was the most prolific scorer in the history of Division II.

    Kienle set NCAA scoring marks for career goals

    West Chester still returns its leading goal scorer in senior attacker Jackie Baker (Penncrest), who scored a team-high 89 goals last year and also dished out 37 assists to finish the year second on the team with 126 points. Also returning are Claire Grimwood (46g, 28a, 74 pts.) and Courtney Whiting (Downingtown East; 47g, 16a, 63 pts.), who finished third and fourth on the team, respectively, in points.

    The Rams are also strong on defense as well as All-American defender Katy Crouse (Boyertown) returns to lead the back line as does goalkeeper Mary Beth Green (Henderson), who played the majority of the minutes in net last year. All together, the Golden Rams return four All-Americans from last year, including first teamers Baker and Crouse and second teamers Whiting and Green.

   “Our strength for this year’s squad lies in our veterans,” said WCU coach Ginny Martino, who has an amazing 158-37 record in 11 years, including 26 straight conference wins. “They know what it takes to get there and now they know what it takes to win. We just need to remain focused.

    “Our weakness will be replacing that one player from last year. It wasn’t just a player; it was Steph Kienle, who meant a great deal to us. She was a great player and role model for this team. 

    “She crushed the record books along the way and now we need to replace her 389 points she accumulated over the years.  But, we do have a few players on her heels for breaking scoring records and they are anxious to begin a new season.”

    Other key returnees for the Ram offensisve attack include junior Nicole Haines (Great Valley; 48-13-61), sophomore Shannon Hayes (16,29-45), junior Gabrielle Stitz (Hatboro-Horsham; 22-18-40), senior Gina DiDomenicis (20-11-31), Jen Forney (19-5-24) and senior Kim Norsoph (Henderson; 5-12-17 in 10 games before injury). Also on the defense are all-PSAC juniors Lauren Tatios (West Chester East) and Chrissy Stokes and senior Kimberlee Hachen (North Penn).

    Martino’s Rams have reached the Division II finals in seven of the eight years the tourney has been held. This year’s team, naturally, is expected to return to the finals.

    “I think the pressure of doing well is always there with this team,” Martino said. “They know the history of the program and they really want to do their part to continue the tradition.

    “They continue to work very hard day in and day out.  Our goal will be, as always to take it one game at a time. We cannot get caught up looking at the end of the season.  We need to take care of working on our game.”

Philadelphia University

    First-year coach George Chis-Luca guides the Rams as they enter the year as the favorite in the new Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC).

    The Rams went 12-5 last year, 2-4 in the East Coast Conference. “We’re a young team, and this is a brand new sport for the conference- so our squad will be building confidence as the season goes along,” said Chis-Luca.

    A former men’s lacrosse coach, Chis-Luca makes it clear that although this is his first year as a college coach, he is well versed in the game of lacrosse.

    “The biggest coaching adjustment will be taking the strategies I’ve used for my men’s teams and incorporating them into the women’s game,” said Chis-Luca.  “Women’s lacrosse is more of a finesse sport, so our offense will be created around finesse plays.”

    The Lady Rams have three captains this year: senior defender Amanda Harding, senior Kathryn Sheehan (Penncrest) and junior attacker Lauren Woodie. Offensively, the Lady Rams will be led by junior midfielder Kathleen Maurer, who had 31 goals last season.  Joining her will be Woodie and sophomore Michelle O’Hanlon (Springfield-Delco; 15 G, 7 A).  Rounding out the midfield will be sophomore Danielle Coffaro.

    Sheehan anchors the defense, joined by Harding. In goal for the Rams will be junior keepers Katherine Sullivan and Kelly Staerk.

    Six freshmen join the Lady Ram lineup this year, and coach Chis-Luca will be looking to two of these rookies to make an impact immediately:  two-time high school Academic All-American midfielder Caribeth Shappell and All-Catholic League attacker Taylor Peltzer (Archbishop Wood).

Chestnut Hill College

    The Griffins return seven seniors and three juniors into the first season of CACC play. Headlining that group will be senior captain Katie Donovan (Archbishop Carroll), who has 187 career goals. Last year she ranked among the top 30 nationally in points (68), points-per-game (4.53), and goals-per-game (4.00). The offense also welcomes back junior sisters Carley and Maryanne Glass. Carley Glass provided 16 goals and 16 assists, while also finishing among the top 30 nationally in draw controls (46), and caused turnovers (23); she also hustled to a team-high 40 ground balls.

    The Griffins’ defense features senior defenders Leann Caldwell Mich, Rosie Gavin, Colleen Harner, and Sarah Possinger; and junior defender Kera Cathel. They will be supporting senior goalkeeper Stephanie Jordan (Souderton), who finished among the top 30 nationally in save percentage (.497), saves-per-game (15.3), saves (230), and goals-against-average (15.5).

Holy Family University

    The Tigers begin their first season of play, as a member of the CACC, under coach Meagan DiCave

    DiCave was formerly head coach at Division III Wesley College and an assistant at Harriton High. She also spent a year in the United Kingdom as a coach for Bedford High School, a member of the English Lacrosse Association. DiCave was a standout lacrosse player at Division III Virginia Wesleyan.    

    The Tigers will feature freshman goalie Melissa Jenkins, who led Interboro to a share of the Del-Val League championship last year and was a first-team selection. Nine of the 16 players on the roster are from Philadelphia.



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