September 11, 2012

Freshman 15: College Rookies to Watch (Women)

Maddy Acton will reunite with three U.S. U19 women's teammates at Duke this fall.
© Bryce Vickmark

by Matt Forman | | Twitter

There are the best players, and there are those coming into the right situation at the right time. It's where talent meets circumstance. Here are 15 women to watch when they take the field this fall.

Coming Wednesday: Lacrosse Magazine's 15 men to watch.

Maddy Acton

Midfield, Duke

Seemingly the only thing missing is a smattering of red. Acton will don the blue and white at Duke, where she reunites with U.S. under-19 women's national teammates Kelsey Duryea, Brigid Smith and captain Taylor Trimble, the latter of whom scored 28 goals as a freshman and Acton once described as "a boss."

If Trimble's immediate success with the Blue Devils is any indication, Acton should be a major contributor in short time. Kerstin Kimel hasn't shied away from relying on younger players and Duke's second- and third-leading scorers Kim Wenger and Emma Hamm graduated.

So get used to hearing "Acton to Trimble" in Durham, just like in Germany.

Acton, who tallied 100 goals, 60 assists and 75 ground balls as a senior at Lincoln-Sudbury (Mass.), can create her own shot and uses her size to her advantage.

"Maddy's an amazing leader and she always goes 110 percent," said Lukas Cash, Acton's club coach with Revolution. "She can really play any position, given her intensity and speed. She's a track horse in the midfield."

Since Acton graced Lacrosse Magazine's cover in January 2011, all she has done is win gold with Team USA and lead Lincoln-Sudbury to consecutive top-10 rankings in the Northeast while compiling 265 career points. She also played in the Champion All-American Showcase.

Corinne Etchison

Attack, Georgetown

Corinne Etchison scored 45 goals and had 26 assists as a senior for McDonogh (Md.), Lacrosse Magazine's season-ending No. 1 high school team.
© John Strohsacker/

Etchison shined in the shadow cast by her best friend, two-time Lacrosse Magazine National Player of the Year Taylor Cummings. Such was the story in the Under Armour All-America Classic. Though Cummings was named most valuable player, Etchison's eight-point performance — with a game-record five assists — was equally as impressive.

"Corinne really sees the field well," said All-American South coach Becky Groves, the coach at Maryland 2A/3A state champion Century. "There was one play where Taylor was open by a stick's length, and Corinne hit her right on the stick. Boom — goal. She was covered. But Corinne just threaded the needle."

Etchison totaled 45 goals and 26 assists as a senior, leading McDonogh (Md.) School to three consecutive national No. 1 rankings while stringing together 69 straight victories.

Said Cummings: "Corinne is an awesome feeder. She has the best field vision of anyone I've ever seen. She can make the impossible happen."

Georgetown needs a feeder. The Hoyas lost attacker Kristen Coleman and midfielder Erin Lovett, who tied for the team lead with 10 assists. But they return their four leading scorers, so Etchison might make a perfect fit as the offense's primary distributor.

Molly Wolf

Goalie, Loyola

Call it the "Jen Adams Youth Movement." Seven of Loyola's nine double-digit scorers last year were either freshmen or sophomores, many of whom ranked among the nation's elite recruits. Next in line — on the other end of the field — could be Wolf, who's considered one of top goalies in the country. She will compete with Natalia Angelo for Kerry Stoothoff's spot between the pipes.

Wolf allowed 6.3 goals per game and saved 57 percent of shots she faced for Bryn Mawr (Md.). Her personality matches her active, attacking style, and she isn't afraid to take chances out of the cage. She also clears the ball well.

Taylor Rantfle

Attack, Virginia

Rantfle intimidated Hauppaugue (N.Y.) High opponents with her quirky white-colored contacts, and she could quickly do the same for the Cavaliers, who lose four of their top six scorers and will look for offensive production.

Ranftle registered 65 goals, 65 assists and 15 ground balls as a senior and was MVP of the Vail Lacrosse Shootout's U19 showcase. She dissects defenses from behind the cage with efficiency, and challenges defenders with her trademark roll dodge.

Ally Heavens is the latest in a strong crop of recruits brought to Penn State by third-year coach Missy Doherty.
© Scott McCall

Ally Heavens

Midfield/Defense, Penn State

Third-year coach Missy Doherty has turned the tide in Happy Valley with her reliance on new recruits — their top three scorers were underclassmen last year — and Heavens should be next in line.

Heavens, a three-sport captain in high school, compiled 65 goals, 53 assists, 59 ground balls and 46 draw controls for Garnet Valley (Pa.) and played in the Champion All-American Showcase. She's a versatile midfielder with defensive tendencies, but uses her speed in the transition game.

Penn State will miss midfielder Theresa Zichelli, but Heavens should step into her spot.

Kelci Smesko

Attack, Duke

Smesko will join Acton and company at Duke, where her finishing ability should be put to quick use. It's shaping up to be a particularly strong class for Kimel and the Blue Devils, which bowed out of the NCAA tournament last year earlier than expected.

"We're a really strong, well-balanced class," Smesko said. "I'm really excited to get down to Durham and see what Coach Kimel has in store for us."

A tall and athletic attacker who understands spacing well, Smesko makes the most of her scoring chances. She had 81 goals, 21 assists and 20 ground balls for Ridgewood (N.J.) High before playing in the Champion All-American Showcase. She also was a 1,000-point scorer in basketball.

Stephanie Peragallo

Defense, Notre Dame

The Ultra-athletic five-year, three-sport varsity star scooped 50 ground balls for Hauppauge and played in Champion All-American Showcase. The Irish will be without services of senior captain defender Jordy Shoemaker.

Christina Esposito

Midfield, Northwestern

All-around midfielder had 72 goals and 55 assists for West Babylon (N.Y.) and was the MVP of seniors-only division of US Lacrosse National Tournament. Northwestern had 10 Long Islanders on 2012 roster. Four senior starters graduated, and Kelly Amonte Hiller plays nearly everyone regardless of position or tenure.

Northwestern coach Kelly Amonte Hiller will likely find a role for freshman Christina Esposito, an all-around midfielder.
© Scott McCall

Alex Bruno

Attack, Princeton

Lacrosse Magazine's Northeast Region Player of the Year had 93 goals and 41 assists for Garden City (N.Y.). Plays a patient, selfless style. Also an accomplished field hockey player. Could slide into Barb Previ's spot on attack.

Taylor Cummings

Midfield, Maryland

Two-time Lacrosse Magazine National Player of the Year tallied 61 goals and 34 assists in storybook senior season at McDonogh (Md.). Too talented not to see the field immediately in College Park, where Karri Ellen Johnson and Kristy Black graduated.

Dene' DeMartino

Midfield, Johns Hopkins

U.S. U19 training team member is speedster and transition threat. Scored 57 goals and 15 assists for Eastport-South Manor (N.Y.) before playing in Champion All-American Showcase. Hopkins lost midfield starters Monica D'Ambrogi and Rachel Serio, plus two of its top four scorers.

Darcy Messina

Attack, Florida

Florida loses just one senior from its final four team, making it tough for any newcomer to crack the lineup. Messina, who had 35 goals, 25 assists and 18 ground balls for St. Anthony's (N.Y.) could make the Gators even more potent.

Paige Patterson

Defense/Midfield, North Carolina

The Tar Heels' defensive evolution started last year after losing three 2011 starters. Then three midfielders graduated, including Tewaaraton finalist Becky Lynch. Patterson scooped 50 ground balls for St. Stephen's & St. Agnes (Va.).

Stephanie Toy

Midfield, Notre Dame

Do-it-all midfielder registered 87 goals, 61 assists and 52 ground balls for Moorestown (N.J.), the nation's second-ranked high school. Played in Champion All-American Showcase. Leading scorer Maggie Tamasitis graduated, as did two starters at midfield.

Kayla Treanor

Midfield, Syracuse

U.S. U19 team member scored 56 goals, 12 assists as senior at Niskayuna (N.Y.). Syracuse returns nine double-digit scorers — Sarah Holden graduates — but Gary Gait and Katrina Dowd should find creative ways to share the ball with so many options.

A version of this article appears in the September issue of Lacrosse Magazine, the flagship publication of US Lacrosse. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 400,000-plus members today to start your subscription.

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