September 25, 2013

30 in 30: How Will W&M's Fratzke Era Begin?

by Clare Lochary | | Twitter

After helping Northwestern win three NCAA titles, Hilary Fratzke is looking to shake things up at William and Mary.
©Pete Clawson 

The field is wide open at William & Mary. Defenders could become attackers, and vice versa. That's how the Hillary Fratzke era will begin.

"I want everybody to feel like they're always learning something new and the brink of breakthrough in terms of skill and confidence. We got together and decided we want everybody to be playing everything at this point," said Fratzke, who is in her first year as the Tribe's coach.

Fratzke, a former All-American midfielder at Towson, was most recently an assistant at Northwestern for three seasons, where she helped the Wildcats to capture back-to-back NCAA titles in 2011 and 2012. She is the third William and Mary coach in four seasons. (Longtime coach Christine Halfpenny left after the 2011 season for a new job at Notre Dame, and Brooke Ireland resigned after two seasons for personal reasons.)

While Fratzke hopes to bring a sense of stability to the program, she's willing to shake things up on the field. She expects her first fall season to be full of experimentation and evaluation. William & Mary will host a play day with regional rivals Old Dominion and Richmond on October 19, and Fratzke may send some unusual combos of players onto the field.

"You don't know if there's somebody on D who can stand out on offense, and provide a sense of calm that wasn't there before. On the same side, you might have some attackers who are unbelievable 1v1 defensively. We want to make sure we gave every kid very opportunity to fight for every position on the field," she said.

On attack, points leader Kyrstin Mackrides (41g, 7a) graduated, but the Tribe returns four other regular scorers, led by senior attacker Taelor Salmon (33g, 5a). The assist leader, Kaleigh Noon (13g, 19a), also returns. Defensively, senior Colleen Nofi (.405%) returns in goal. Nofi, along with sophomore keeper Meredith Crizer and freshman Alex Lista, will have the benefit of an experienced goalie coach. Fratzke hired her former Towson teammate, Mary Teeters as an assistant.

"Mary's good at teaching but she wants to teach to the individual strength. Each goalie is really gaining their confidence and they're competing in practice," Fratzke said.

Fratzke's second assistant, Amanda Matthews, is a 2013 James Madison alum, making the entire coaching staff a product of CAA schools. Matthews will be the team's defensive coordinator, and will be tasked with tightening up the Tribe's 14.25 GAA from last season.

Fratzke was drawn to William & Mary's academic profile, as well as the program's history of success.

"I think kids who are driven in the classroom tend to be very driven on the lacrosse field, with that innate, intrinsic motivation," she said.

She was also impressed by the level of enthusiasm she saw in the current players, despite all the coaching turnover and a 5-11 record from last season that left the Tribe on the outside of the conference tournament looking in. Players have been stopping by her office, asking what they can do to fine-tune their agility and stick work.

"The girls are really excited and amped," Fratzke said. "There's eagerness to learn and I knew coming in, I knew they were a hard-working group. I love the competitive environment they're setting for themselves. They established right from the get-go they were going to work extremely hard this year and really make the most out of the fall."

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