February 9, 2012

High Expectations for Hopkins in 2012

by Clare Lochary | LaxMagazine.com

Colleen McCaffrey will shift to the midfield this season from attack, one of several personnel moves made by the Johns Hopkins coaching staff heading into the spring.
© Lee Weissman

This is the year for Johns Hopkins. Janine Tucker can feel it.

"This should be it. We have very high expectations for 2012," said Tucker, who is in her 19th year at the helm of the Blue Jays' program.

"Last year provided the highest highs we've ever had, and the lowest lows. What I told the girls is that in the past, we talked about great games within a season. This year we want to talk about a whole season. We want to sustain our success. We don't want to talk about one or two games, one or two special moments."

In 2011, Johns Hopkins had a win over then-fourth-ranked Penn (the highest ranked team the Blue Jays has beaten since 2006) and later beat then-No. 2 Northwestern, which became the highest ranked opponent the Jays have ever beaten. But then they lost their final three games, finishing 9-8 overall and 1-4 in the American Lacrosse Conference. But they lost only three starters from that team, and return seven of their top eight scorers. They hope it will carry them back into the tournament for the first time since 2007.

"It sounds insane, but I wouldn't changed what happened last year. It's fueling this year," said Tucker.

Johns Hopkins has the benefit of one of the nation's most experienced and talented goalies. Junior Cosette LaRash is in her third year as a starter, and posted a .405 save percentage in 2011.

The Blue Jays will play an up tempo style with a strong, turnover-oriented ride. While the cast of characters will be familiar, Tucker has shuffled the deck. Junior defender Courtney Schweizer and senior attacker Colleen McCaffrey will shift to midfield, while sophomore midfielder Taylor D'Amore will slide back to the attack unit. McCaffrey led the team in goals (42) and points (54) last season; D'Amore was third in goals (28) and second in points.

Tucker expects a breakout season from Schweizer, a speedy, competitive player, as well as sophomore midfielder Sammy Cermack.

Defense Loyola's Strength

Loyola has a solid defensive base, with senior goalie Kerry Stoothoff (.465) and defenders Kellye Gallagher and Ana Henneberry.

The offense may need some time to gel, after the graduation of the program's all-time leading scorer, Grace Gavin. Sophomore Marlee Paton played in 19 games last season, scoring 38 goals and never looking like a freshman. Junior attacker Joanna Dalton is also poised to reach new heights. After spending a few seasons in the shadows of Gavin and Abby Rehfuss, Dalton (7g) should help the Greyhounds find their offensive identity. She has the height (5-10) to beat defenders and a laser-rocket shot to boot.

Loyola's draw specialist Taryn van Thof (30 DC) will be out for the season with a torn ACL. Head coach Jen Adams expects that her replacement will be sophomore Cass Cusaro. An Australian like both Adams and Paton, Cusaro is a 5-11 midfielder who is back on the field after missing much of has the benefit of learning from Loyola assistant coach (and draw specialist) Dana Dobbie. The Greyhounds are a tall bunch overall – there are 12 players who stand at least 5-8, and five them are 5-10 or taller.

Towson's Teeters a Force

Charles Street has a glut of good goalies. In addition to LaRash and Stoothoff, there is Towson's Mary Teeters. Teeters is now a fourth-year starter and had a .476 save percentage in the Tigers' 11-7 2011 season. Towson graduated three starters on defense, but LaMonica is high on the potential of freshman Michelle Dufault, a Fairport (N.Y.) grad, and expects the defense to remain solid.

"When you look at a top program, they have a solid keeper. It's one of, if not the most, important position on the field. Mary's a force for us, and a huge anchor," said head coach Sonia LaMonica. "We like an aggressive game of lacrosse, plenty of transition but also great composure."

Midfielders Kelly Custer, Ashley Waldron and Katie Leech will be the heart of that transition game. Sophomore Ashleigh Rohrbach is 100 percent healthy after redshirting the last season. "She's the best stick on the field," said LaMonica of Rohrbach.

On attack, the Tigers will need to find a replacement for Jess Dunn (39g). Top feeder senior Sarah Appelt (22a) will need to get the ball to Waldron (24g) and Custer (22g) more often, and make better use of sophomore Rhiannon Coogle, who contributed 13 goals as a freshman.

LaMonica said the team's goal is to win the Colonial Athletic Association and get the program's first NCAA tournament win. The Tigers have been to the dance four times, most recently in 2010, but have never gotten the W.

"We're got to go where we haven't been before," she said.

Young Retrievers

UMBC has a lot of growing up to do. With only four seniors and 14 underclassmen, the Retrievers will need to find maturity and leadership to win the America East and earn their first NCAA tournament bid since 2003.

Senior Alicia Krause, an all-conference midfielder, should be a big part of that effort. Head coach Kelly Berger is also hopeful about junior midfielder Lindsay Cox. Cox broke into the starting lineup last year and should be a major contributor.

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