Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/16/11
From Press Releases
The Lehigh women’s lacrosse team opens its season Saturday at defending MAAC champion Marist.
A season after advancing to the Patriot League Championship Game, the Mountain Hawks return 11 of 12 starters from a squad which won its first eight games and finished 14-4. They also return all six of their All-Patriot League performers, including WomensLacrosse.com Second Team All-American Lauren Dykstra.
“One of our biggest goals is to establish consistency with this program,” said Lehigh coach Jill Redfern (Ursinus College), who is 25-10 in her first two seasons at Lehigh. “We had a couple excellent, outstanding wins last year coupled with some bad losses.
“We’re hoping to even that out and really be a steady team who competes well every time out?”
Leading the attack unit is junior Kelly Draper and sophomore Megan Kelly. A First Team All-League honoree last season, Draper finished third on the team in scoring with 54 points (35 goals, 19 assists). She also scooped up 25 ground balls and caused 12 turnovers. A former Patriot League Rookie of the Year, Draper will be counted on for veteran leadership at the position.
Also projected to start is Kelly, who enjoyed a stellar freshman campaign in 2010, posting 33 points via 27 goals and six assists. She played in all 18 games (starting 17), while recording 21 ground balls.
Two freshmen appear to be in the lead to fill the other attacking position – Chelsea Retaleato and Taylor Cummins. Also vying for time on attack are sophomore Anna Patterson and freshmen Caitlin Keefe and Kate Cooper.
Undoubtedly the team’s strongest and most experienced position, the midfield features senior co-captains, Dykstra and Allison Thomas (Conestoga), who are both coming off First Team All-Patriot League seasons.
“They play a huge amount of minutes for us and they’re both highly productive in all statistical categories,” said Redfern. “They’re workhorses.”
Dykstra has enjoyed one of the strongest careers in school history as she enters 2011 as the nation’s second leading active scorer with 185 career goals, only one behind the current leader. Dykstra is also the nation’s active leader in ground balls with 174. She is a crucial part of draw controls as well, recording 111 over her first three seasons.
Thomas has made a tremendous impact in her three years thus far in the Lehigh Valley. She enters the season with 106 career points (78 goals, 28 assists), while starting all 52 games. Thomas has posted 18 or more goals each season. Hard work led to a breakout junior campaign, which featured 54 points via 38 goals and 16 assists. Despite her impressive statistics, it’s her intangibles that truly make her valuable.
“Allison is a little bit of an unsung hero on our team,” said Redfern. “She’s an incredibly powerful player and a relentless competitor.?
Joining Dykstra and Thomas in the midfield is another All-Patriot League honoree in sophomore Julie McBrien, who is making the move from defense. McBrien started all 18 games at defense a season ago, recording 23 ground balls and 10 caused turnovers in helping the Mountain Hawks allow fewer than nine goals per game. In the end, her skillset made the position change easy.
Lehigh returns a core group of defenders, led by First Team All-League honoree Leigh Ann Torcivia, who finished her sophomore season with a team-high 17 caused turnovers and finished second with 45 ground balls.
Also returning is senior Kindall Healy and sophomore (and Second Team All-Patriot League performer) Kenzie Dambach.
Sophomore Alissa Hardiman, who saw her fair share of action in 2010, will also see significant playing time as will junior Anna Pierce. Hardiman finished last season with 11 ground balls and five caused turnovers.
The goaltending position features a battle between returning sophomore MaryLeah DiNisco and freshman Alexandra Fitzpatrick. Both bring a number of positives to the table.
DiNisco played in 15 games a year ago, starting 12, while posting a .484 save percentage and 8.36 GAA. Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick comes in with a number of skill sets that should translate to the college game.
Having the abundance of returning experience should prove beneficial for the Mountain Hawks, who look to build off of last year’s success and make 2011 even more memorable.
“It’s promising to have the large majority of our starters returning to those roles,” said Redfern. “There is no substitute for experience. We need to keep everyone healthy and on the playing field.”