Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 8/25/15
From Press Release
The Cornell women’s lacrosse team, led by Head Coach Jenny Graap (West Chester East), has announced the eight newcomers that will be added to the roster for the 2016 season. The Class of 2019 includes three high school All-Americans, three players who represented their club teams in the U.S. Lacrosse Women’s National Tournament and two who were invited to try out for the U.S. Women’s U19 National Team.
The group also features two players with family ties to Cornell lacrosse: Natalie Paletta, daughter of former men’s lacrosse Second Team All-American Steve Paletta, who captained the Big Red to a second-place finish in the NCAA tournament in 1987; and Sarah Phillips, whose grandfather, John Phillips ’58, uncle J.D. Phillips ’83 and father Andy Phillips ’84 all played lacrosse at Cornell.
In addition, five members of the Class of 2019 hail from the Tri-State area, which continues to be one of the nation’s hotbeds of lacrosse.
“Cornell’s incoming class of eight is well balanced and brings talent to all positions,” said Graap. “With Nielsen in the goal and Leska and Phillips on attack, we have the speed and flexibility to play the other five as midfielders or defenders. Coach Friedrich, Coach Moore and I are looking forward to working with and to mentoring this group of gifted scholar-athletes. We will encourage each of them to compete strongly from the outset with the goal of impacting our Big Red program in the coming season.”
Midfield/Defense — Berwyn, Penn. (Conestoga HS/Phantastix Lacrosse)
In 2013, Nicholson was selected for the Under Armour All-America Underclass Philadelphia Team before being named an All-Central League Honorable Mention and All-Main Line Honorable Mention in her senior season as captain at Conestoga High School. She was also an Academic All-American as a senior and was the recipient of her school’s Jamie O’Brien Kindem Leadership Award.
Incoming Player Biographies
Midfield — Roseland, N.J. (West Essex HS/T3 Elite North)
Berstcha captained her West Essex High School team to a Super Essex Conference Championship her senior season and was named to the All-SEC First Team and All-Essex County First Team her junior and senior years. In addition, she played with North New Jersey Team 1 at the Women’s National Tournament in 2014 and 2015. She also captained West Essex’s soccer and basketball teams and holds the school record for career points (1,217) in basketball. Berstcha was also honored as an Essex County Athlete of the Year in 2015.
Attack/Midfield — Vestal, N.Y. (Vestal HS/Star Riders Lacrosse Club)
Leska is a two-time All-American and three-time captain at Vestal High School, where she holds the records for career points (450), goals (226) and assists (224) and single-season goals (69) and assists (71). She participated in the U.S. Lacrosse Women’s National Tournament in three consecutive seasons and was selected to try out for the U.S. Women’s U19 National Team. Leska was also selected as a Section IV First Team All-Star all four years of high school.
Goalie — Darien, Conn. (Darien HS/CT Chargers, CT Grizzlies)
Nielsen, a First Team All-American, was also named First Team All-State, First Team All-Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference and First Team MSG Varsity All-Connecticut her senior season and finished high school with a .47 overall save percentage. In 2013, she was selected as a member of the Under Armour Underclass New England Team. In addition to lacrosse, Nielsen was a forward for the Darien High School hockey team. The team won the FCIAC Championship each of Nielsen’s last three years, including her senior season when she was captain and named All-FCIAC First Team.
Defense/Midfield — South Salem, N.Y. (John Jay HS/Westchester Elite Lacrosse Club)
O’Reilly captained her team at John Jay High School in Cross River, N.Y. during her senior season. She was named to the All-League team her last three seasons and the All-Section team her junior and senior years. In addition, O’Reilly, an Academic All-American, was also an All-Elite and All-State selection as captain of the John Jay field hockey team.
Defense/Midfield — Greenwich, Conn. (Greenwich HS/CT Grizzlies)
Paletta captained the Greenwich High School varsity team her senior season, when she was named to the MSG Varsity All-Connecticut Girls Lacrosse Team and was a Hearst Connecticut Media Girls Lacrosse All-Star. She was selected as a member of the All-State First Team her junior and senior seasons and was named to the All-Fairfield County Interscholastic Conference First Team her last three years at Greenwich. Her father, Steve, made a name for himself on the Big Red lacrosse team in the 1980s and her mother, Christine, was a gymnast at Cornell.
Attack — Manhasset, N.Y. (Manhasset HS/Long Island Liberty)
A New York State Champion with the Manhasset High School lacrosse team her junior year, Phillips served as captain her senior season, when she was also named to the All-County team. She also earned three letters in field hockey. Phillips is part of three generations of Cornell lacrosse players, following her grandfather, uncle and father.
Midfield — Queensbury, N.Y. (Queensbury HS/ADK Club Lacrosse)
Raymond, a First Team All-American, was the Queensbury High School captain and leading scorer her senior season, notching 59 goals in 18 games. In 2013, her sophomore year, Raymond led both her team and the Foothills Council in scoring, with 57 goals. The three-time Foothills Council First Team All-Star was named Queensbury’s Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year in 2013 and 2014. She played in the Women’s National Tournament in two consecutive seasons for the Adirondack regional team and was selected to try out for the U.S. Women’s U19 National Team. In addition to lacrosse, she was also a two-time captain and leading scorer of the Queensbury field hockey team, setting the school record for most goals (26) and assists (31) in a season and earning All-State honors in 2014. Raymond was also class president her junior and senior years and a lacrosse Academic All-American in 2014 and 2015.