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College preview: @LehighWLacrosse looks to contend in Patriot League

Thursday, 16th February 2017

Categories College, Girl's/Women's, Posted 2/16/17
From Press Release

The Lehigh women’s lacrosse team finished last season with a stellar 13-5 record. The Mountain Haws won 10 straight home games (a streak that’s still active and a school record in the Patriot League era), earned a home game in the league quarterfinals and won a postseason game for the first time since 2010.

Julianne D’Orazio

Lehigh eventually fell just short to top-seeded Loyola in the Patriot League Semifinals, its second slim defeat to the Greyhounds of the year.

Most of last season’s key contributors return in 2017. With an additional year of experience under their belt, and a talented group of freshmen, the Mountain Hawks look to continue raising their play this season.

“The team has learned they can play against top competition,” said Jill Redfern (Ursinus), who is entering her ninth season as Lehigh head coach. “They know that they’re capable of winning; it’s just a matter of staying healthy and getting some momentum. Things need to line up and come together within a season. We certainly have experience in the upper classes that should be a big benefit.”

Lehigh is led by three senior co-captains, who were all All-Patriot League honorees last season: Allison LaBeau, Julianne D’Orazio (Merion Mercy) and Lauren Beausoleil.

“They’re the ones driving the team, they know what it takes to be in those close games and they know where we want to be at the end of the season,” said associate head coach Shannon McHugh. “They’re definitely the ones pushing everybody else to get better every day, working hard and knowing that it will be worth it in the end.”

“The senior leaders are willing to take a large share of the responsibility for the team performance,” said Redfern. “They know they need to deliver big games for our team to be successful.”

Positional Breakdown

LaBeau, the 2016 Patriot League Attacker of the Year and preseason Offensive Player of the Year, leads the charge after posting 80 points last season behind 46 goals and 34 assists. An All-Region honoree as well, she finished the year eighth nationally in points per game.

“Coach Sammy (Cermack) has worked very hard to help Alli expand her game, so we are excited to see even more variety from her this season,” said Redfern.

Sophomore Courtney Henig will join LaBeau on the attacking unit. Henig finished third on the team with 35 points (29 goals, six assists).

Someone who’s contributed in many facets, Beausoleil leads the midfield unit. Last season, she earned All-League honors for the first time, finishing second on the Mountain Hawks with 38 points (29 goals, nine assists), second in groundballs (29), third in caused turnovers (16) and third in draw controls (29).

“Our midfield is definitely a strength of this team,” said Redfern. “Beausoleil has the most experience at midfield, has played the most minutes there and has the greatest leadership role at the position.” 15862

After a breakout sophomore campaign with 31 points (20 goals, 11 assists), junior Haley Wentzel (Boyertown) looks to play a key role in transition for the Mountain Hawks. Meanwhile, D’Orazio and junior Kierstyn Voiro (Moorestown) are two-way midfielders, serving as anchors defensively who can also join the attack. Last season, D’Orazio returned from injury with a vengeance, earning first team All-Patriot League and second team All-Region while posting 20 points (17 goals, three assists), a team-leading 44 groundballs, team-leading 37 caused turnovers and 30 draw controls (second on the Mountain Hawks). D’Orazio’s 37 caused turnovers stood top 10 in Patriot League history.

Junior Kayleen Kelly returns as a markup defender, and on the draw, after leading the Mountain Hawks with 41 draw controls in 2016. Other experienced defensive players expected to play significant minutes are sophomore Mary Ellen Carron, who started all 18 games as a freshman, and junior Alexis King.

Anchoring the backline will be two very strong goalkeepers in senior Taylor Tvedt and junior Elizabeth Nussbaum. Tvedt returns with the most experience as a two-year starter who led the Patriot League with a 7.75 goals against average last season. However, Nussbaum has made strides this preseason which will allow her to challenge her for the starting spot.

It’s an exciting time within the Lehigh women’s lacrosse program. The Mountain Hawks have made three straight Patriot League Tournaments and look to continue, and improve upon, their past success.

“The goal is always to get to the postseason because there’s no winning a championship until you get there,” said Redfern. “That’s job one. Making gains game-to-game will be paramount.”

The focus is to get better every day. The 2017 Mountain Hawks look to focus on the process, and the results will come.

All of college lacrosse will have to get used to the shot clock in 2017. With a more fast-paced game, the Mountain Hawks are well-positioned to have success. Players like D’Orazio and Voiro, whose main focus is defense, look to thrive in the transition game.

“You have to be constantly aware of the shot clock,” said Redfern. “There’s urgency to get back on defense, stop fast breaks and there’s urgency to push fast break. The shot clock certainly adds a new dimension to decision-making.”

Although the majority of last year’s roster returns, this is a new team.

“Each year is a new team, with its own identity and goals,” said Redfern.

The 2017 team includes nine newcomers. 15370
Julianne D’Orazio

“The freshman class has continued to get better from the fall to the spring,” said McHugh. “They step on the field with the job of just getting better every day, which is nice to see.”

“The newcomers are spirited and focused on team goals,” said Redfern. “They’re physically prepared and contributing in practice each day.”

Lehigh will look to acclimate its freshmen, but they shouldn’t need to be thrown to the fire since the Mountain Hawks are led by so many experienced upperclassmen. Lehigh has the mix to be very successful.

The Mountain Hawks will be tested, beginning the year at reigning National Semifinalist Penn State, Lehigh’s first of 10 road games on the year.

“The schedule is tough,” said Redfern. “Whenever you have more road games than you have home games, it’s a challenge. This team understands winning is hard and every game will be a battle.”



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