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College preview: @LehighWLacrosse seeks to make its mark in the Patriot League

Thursday, 11th February 2016

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Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/11/16
From press Release

The Lehigh women’s lacrosse team is poised for success. Following two consecutive Patriot League Tournament appearances, the Mountain Hawks enter the 2016 season with an impressive mix of returning standouts and talented youngsters, as they look to reach their third straight league tournament and continue their strong play.

Kendall Garden

Kendall Garden

Lehigh showed last season that it can play with some of the best teams in the nation. The Mountain Hawks defeated eventual NEC Champion Bryant on a last-second goal from junior Allison LaBeau; Lehigh also won at Big Ten opponent Rutgers on national television and stood within three goals late in the game against Loyola, a team that went on to reach the National Quarterfinals.

“Our team is building confidence each week,” said Lehigh head coach Jill Redfern (Ursinus College). “We saw multiple scoring threats throughout the fall, which is something we hope to build on. Each of our early games will provide a great opportunity for our team to grow up quickly on the defensive end.”

Beyond the returning standouts and incoming freshmen, the Mountain Hawks will also count on other players to step up into more prominent roles, including several members of the sophomore class.

“Our sophomore class has made huge gains since last year and we think several of them will have standout seasons,” said Redfern. “It’s exciting to see student-athletes stepping up, especially in our program where player development is key. We prioritize individual training and film study to allow each player to learn the college game as quickly as possible. Our staff is excited to see hard work pays off this season as many of our student-athletes will contribute in new roles”

At the Mountain Hawks’ foundation is four returning players looking to anchor their positions. LaBeau leads the way at attack. A two-time All-Patriot League honoree and former Patriot League Rookie of the Year, the junior stepped into a more offensive role last season from her midfield spot as a freshman. She posted a team-high 48 points in 2015 (34 goals, 14 assists), 10 more points than her freshman season.

“We’re looking to Alli to quarterback our attack,” said Redfern. “She’s a junior now with lots of playing minutes, especially now on the offensive end, having been there as a sophomore. Not only will we look to her for scoring production, but also as a playmaker to do a lot of our communicating on the offensive end.”

Redfern likes what she’s seeing from the attack group.

“I think our fast break is really developing and we’ve been working hard on our two-man game with a bunch of our younger players in the mix,” she said. “We’re excited to have a little more creativity on the attack end.”

Senior Kendall Garden and junior Lauren Beausoleil are top returners in the midfield; both have posted strong all-around numbers in their careers. Last season, Garden finished third on the Mountain Hawks in scoring with 34 points (24 goals, 10 assists) while Beausoleil finished fourth with 28 points (18 goals, 10 assists). The two also tied for the team lead with 30 groundballs while Garden led the way with 31 caused turnovers and Beausoleil owned a team-leading 44 draw controls.

“Kendall anchors our midfield,” said Redfern. “Defensive midfield is her greatest strength, but we’re seeing her really step up in a transition attack role this year. Beau has started since her freshman year at midfield and she plays a ton of minutes for us. Her strength is in between the lines and we rely on her presence.”

The midfield features plenty of experience, even beyond Garden and Beausoleil.

“Our midfield is our most experienced unit and it shows in communication and confidence,” said associate head coach Shannon McHugh.

On the contrary, the defense is Lehigh’s most inexperienced position following the graduation of three four-year starters Lauren Willcox (Agnes Irwin), Kelly Scott and Michelle Abramczyk. However, the Mountain Hawks feature plenty of depth, players who look to step up into bigger roles behind the lead of junior Julianne D’Orazio (Merion Mercy Academy) who returns after missing the 2015 season due to injury. D’Orazio enjoyed a strong freshman season in the midfield, recording 21 groundballs, 23 draw controls and 22 caused turnovers along with four goals.

“Julianne will contribute strongly in our midfield, but we’re also expecting her to anchor our defense,” said Redfern. “Her relationships with players in all four classes is essential and although we’re not exactly sure who’s going to be in those positions, we know we have a lot of options at line defense.”

Junior Taylor Tvedt returns in goal after a strong 2015 season which saw her post a 7.90 GAA and .420 save percentage. Last season, Lehigh’s team GAA of 8.06 stood third in the Patriot League while the Mountain Hawks’ defense also led the league in caused turnovers per game (9.71).

Along with the returners, Lehigh welcomes nine freshmen who look to make significant impacts.

The Mountain Hawks begin 2016 with a challenging season-opening opponent, Penn State, one of two Lehigh opponents to advance to the National Quarterfinals last season (along with Loyola).

“Penn State is a great team. Even though they graduated a few players, they’re fast and deep,” said Redfern. “They’ll offer great competition that will instantly make us better, just by competing against them. It’s an exciting game and we know it will provide the competitive experience we need early on.”

Feb. 12 vs. Penn State is the first of 16 games on the regular season schedule (10 at home).

“Our goal is to be our best as often as we can and we particularly want to do well at home this year,” said Redfern. “We didn’t have a great home record last season, so one goal is to defend our home turf in those 10 games. We are focused on winning the moment this spring. We know that if we do that, we will be well-positioned for a strong season.”


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