Jan. 31, 2009
ORLANDO, Fla. - The Maryland women's lacrosse team is poised to kick off its preseason Sunday when it battles the U.S. National Team in Orlando.
Below is this year's outlook for the Terps.
The 2009 Maryland women's lacrosse team is focused on two things for the upcoming campaign - this season and this team. The squad lost a solid group of seniors from a year ago, but the cupboard is far from bare for the Terps, who have their sights set on their 19th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
"We are going to be a quick, athletic team that is going to compete hard every single day," head coach Cathy Reese, who is in her third season at the helm of the program, said. "Our strength and experience is going to be in the midfield, but I believe we are strong top to bottom."
Maryland's attack, though youth-laden, features a pair of players with international experience. Australian National Team member Sarah Mollison will lead the group after tallying 14 points in her first year in College Park. Mollison will be joined by a pair of dynamic freshman with the addition of Kari Ellen Johnson and Kristy Black. Johnson is a U.S. U-19 player that is a tremendous finisher while Black brings a smart, creative attack to the Terps.
"Sarah is fast, smart, aggressive and quick and we will really be looking to her for leadership in our attack," Reese said. "Kari Ellen and Kristy will also be impact players for us as we strive for a smart, dynamic and explosive offense." Returning for Maryland this season is Ali Perkins and Jenny Collins. Perkins is a great passer while Collins, a red shirt junior, brings experience to the Terrapin attack.
"Ali has good sight from behind the cage and really sets us up well," Reese said. "Jenny is a strong crease dodger and one of our most explosive attackers." Ellen Cook, Colleen Dawson and Alex Mavris will all add depth to the offense.
"Ellen sees the field well, Colleen is a great finisher and Alex has a strong challenge to goal," Reese said. "These three players will help us create a balance offense" Reese said.
Led by All-American and All-ACC honoree Caitlyn McFadden and Amanda Spinnenweber, the Maryland midfield is poised to be one of the best in the nation in 2009. The duo, along with defender Karissa Taylor, will represent the Terps as captains this season. McFadden, a U.S. National Team member, is the Terps top returning scorer after putting up 27 goals and 27 assists last season. Spinnenweber returns as a starter, registering 18 goals and 13 assists a year ago.
"Caitlyn has tremendous field vision and good stick work," Reese said. "Amanda is a hard worker that is good on both ends of the field."
Laura Merrifield brings even more international experience to the midfield, having competed with the England National Team. Merrifield appeared in 17 games as a freshman, tallying ten goals. The sister tandem of Brittany and Brandi Jones will also see significant action for Maryland.
"Laura has great size and speed and does whatever it takes to be successful," Reese said. "Brandi is quick and athletic and Brittany is a fit player with an ability to find openings in small spaces."
Helen McCutcheon will also aid in the Terrapin midfield by using her speed.
"Helen is a hard worker who will be a fast addition to our midfield," Reese said.
The Terrapin defense should be sturdy again this season, with two returning starters and a solid core of returning players in addition to landing one of the top transfers in the country.
Karissa Taylor and Katie Gallagher helped lead the Terps to 18 wins last season as members of Maryland's backline. Alexcia Niumatalolo played significant minutes for the Terps last season as a freshman. Sophomore Brittany Poist led the nation in caused turnovers at Louisville in 2008 and will bring experience to the Terps.
"Karissa is quick with the potential to help us in the midfield as well and Katie is a strong player and great in 1 v. 1 situations," Reese said. "Alexcia is very athletic and has developed more confidence heading into her sophomore year and Poist is a quick defender with good instincts."
Abby Caso returns for her second year in a Maryland uniform to help anchor the defense.
"Abby is a very smart, disciplined, and controlled defender", says Reese. "She is expected to bring depth to this year's defensive unit".
"Mindy is a smart defender with solid communication and leadership," Reese said. "Marie is athletic and solid within the 8-meter. Maeve is an aggressive defender who hustles constantly."
"Sara is a solid 1v1 defender, Megan reads offensive plays well to intercept passes, and Liz hustles all over the field," Reese said. "These three players will be strong additions to our defense."
The Terps have plenty of options in the goalie department and it will likely be an immense battle for the starting slot.
"Regardless, with the graduation of three-year starter Allie Buote, we are going to have a fresh face in the cage this season," Reese said. "We feel confident that whoever wins the starting role will do a tremendous job for us this season. Lynne is a good communicator in the cage, Brittany is athletic and aggressive and Mary has quick hands and is very enthusiastic. I think our goalkeeping will be strong this season."
The Maryland women's lacrosse team has once again assembled a challenging slate for the 2009 season as the Terps face seven teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season. The Terps begin play with a pair of exhibition contests against the U.S. National Team and the U.S. Developmental Team in Florida on February 1 before heading to Richmond on February 15th for the season opener.
"We feel we have put together a tough schedule that in the end will prepare us for the ACC and NCAA Tournament," Reese said. "The goal is for us to be playing our best lacrosse come May."
The Terps will also play an exhibition match against the England National Team Feb. 10 before hitting regular season play. Maryland will be tested early, taking on two ACC foes in its first four contests when the Terps face Duke Feb. 28 and Virginia March 6.
The Terps return to the Maryland area with matches at Georgetown March 11, in College Park against New Hampshire March 15, and at Towson March 24 before heading to the annual ACC/ALC Challenge in Columbus, Ohio to battle Penn State and Ohio State. Maryland also welcomes Boston College and Stanford in the month of March and heads to James Madison March 27.
Maryland gets back to conference play with a contest against North Carolina at home on April 11 and continues the home stand with a game three days later against Johns Hopkins on April 14. Both squads will help prep Maryland for the 2009 ACC Tournament April 23-26 at Virginia Tech.
Prior to NCAA Tournament time, the Terps will play Princeton at home May 2.