By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/16/10
Like any team with a first-year coach, the transition to a new system has meant a significant change for the Delaware women’s lacrosse team.
But the players themselves will tell you the future under new Blue Hens coach Kateri Linville is bright.
Today Delaware tied one of last year’s Final Four teams, Syracuse, 14-14, in a Fall
Ball game held at Radnor High, a venue used for the third straight year by Division
The game served as a homecoming for a number of Delaware and Syracuse players who graduated from Philly schools. It also showcased the new Blue Hen squad under Linville, a 2003 Delaware grad who was an assistant at Notre Dame and has the task of replacing the highly-successful Kim Ciarrocca (Plymouth Whitemarsh grad).
“It has been such a huge transition, but she (Linville) is one of the best coaches I have ever had,” said Delaware senior Julianna Jeffers, a Springfield-Delco graduate who paced the Hens’ attack. “She knows what she is doing, she has a mission and sets goals, and we are out to accomplish them.
“I wouldn’t expect anything less than a league title, and in the future she is going to have a lot of championships.”
On Friday the Hens fell, 21-8, to host Maryland, the 2010 national champion, at College Park. The team bused back up to Radnor today with 19 players, including Jeffers, junior midfielder and returning starter Kalyn McDonough (Unionville), and two other Philly grads that had strong games, sophomore defender Kendall Bailey (Central Bucks East) and freshman midfielder Bridget Burns (Notre Dame Academy).
Also on the roster are Philly freshmen Shannon Burns (Springfield-Delco), Abbie Hartman (North Penn), Casey Rooney (Merion Mercy) and Chelsea Fay (Vaille Maria Academy). One more Blue Hen making a homecoming, literally, was Delaware assistant coach Kristin Hopson – a 2003 Radnor grad and member of three District 1 championship teams.
Syracuse featured junior midfielder Heather Wentz (unionville) as well as freshmen Kasey Mock (Pottstown, defender) and Amy Cross (Upper Dublin, midfielder).
In today’s game – played before a healthy crowd – Syracuse held an 11-8 lead until the Hens tallied six straight goals. Syracuse, though, recovered and tied it in the last 20 seconds.
“We had huge competition last night and this totally set us up for today,” said Jeffers, who was the team’s second leading scorer last year with 25 goals. “It’s been a great weekend. It’s awesome to be able to play in the local area with our family and our fans.
“My mom, my brother, my dad, and one of best friends from home are here. And a lot of alumni came back. It’s great that Delaware lacrosse is getting this kind of exposure.”
The Hens, who were 6-10 last year, continue their Fall Ball slate next week when they play in the George Mason Tournament. The following week they close up at the Georgetown tournament with the host Hoyas as well as Duke and Florida.
McDonough, who played at Richmond as a freshman before transferring to Delaware her sophomore year, said Linville has high expectations.
“The coaches are really expecting a lot from us and we’re pushing it hard,” said McDonough. “We’re expecting a great year.
“There’s always going to be bumps in the road with the learning curve and I think we’re getting over that hump now.”
Linville said it’s been a dream to come back to her alma mater as head coach.
“It’s been a great transition,” she said. “I think Delaware is excited about lacrosse.
“For me it’s an awesome opportunity to come back as an alum and challenge this program to be a championship program. We just faced two Final Four teams this weekend. We competed with confidence and today we put 14 goals in the back of the net; now we just have to win the games.”