March 2, 2009

Amherst Women Reload for Another Run

from press release

The Amherst College women’s lacrosse program returned to elite status in Division III last year by finishing with a 15-4 overall record and advancing to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the eighth time since 1996. The Lord Jeffs got off to an 8-0 start and won 12 of their first 13 games, grabbing the No. 2 seed in the NESCAC Championship with a 7-2 conference mark. After earning an 8-7 win over seventh-seeded Wesleyan in the opening round, Amherst dropped a 10-9 double-overtime thriller to Trinity in the semifinals.

The season was far from over for the Jeffs, whose impressive résumé earned them an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Thanks to a 9-1 scoring run, Amherst cruised to an impressive 16-7 win over Endicott College in the opening round to set up a game with sixth-ranked Washington & Lee University in the Round of 16. The Jeffs—ranked 11th in the nation at the time—trailed the Generals for only 66 seconds before pulling away down the stretch for a 10-8 upset victory. With a trip to the Final Four on the line, Amherst was paired with third-ranked Franklin & Marshall in the quarterfinals. After trailing by only two goals at halftime to the heavily-favored Diplomats, Amherst was out-scored 8-3 in the second half and ultimately had its amazing season come to an end with a 16-9 loss.

Amherst loses four outstanding student-athletes to graduation: Linda McEvoy, Maddie Hoeg, Gretchen DeLuke and Kristina Green. The Class of 2008 posted a record of 50-19 (.725) in its four years, including a 26-10 (.722) mark in the ultra-competitive NESCAC. Amherst posted a 4-3 record in the NCAA Tournament from 2005 to 2008, making three consecutive appearances in the conference semifinals after advancing to the finals in 2005.

Anchoring Amherst’s defense for each of the past three years was Linda McEvoy, who posted a 37-15 record as a goalkeeper. In addition to finishing second in the NESCAC in goals-against average in each of the last two seasons, McEvoy was a two-time IWLCA All-Region selection before earning All-America honors as a senior. McEvoy was also a two-time NESCAC All-Academic selection, and last year was selected to play in the IWLCA/Under Armour North-South Senior All-Star Game.

Also selected to play in the 2008 Senior All-Star Game was Maddie Hoeg. After recording 29 points in each of her sophomore and junior seasons, Hoeg took on a leading role as a senior to score 38 goals with 10 assists, giving her 92 goals and 20 assists for her career. Her tremendous senior season earned Hoeg a spot on the All-NESCAC Second Team, IWLCA All-Region First Team and All-America Third Team. Hoeg was also a part of the 2008 NESCAC Spring All-Academic Team.

Returning Attackers
Leading the returning attackers will be senior quad-captain Amy Craig, who begins her final season just 42 points shy of 200 for her career. Craig recorded at least 40 points in each of her first three seasons and at least 50 goals in each of her last two, as she has upped her season-point total each year to become one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the NESCAC. A three-time IWLCA All-Region selection, Craig burst onto the scene as a first-year by being named to the All-Rookie Team. After leading the conference in goals to earn All-NESCAC Second Team honors as a sophomore, Craig’s stellar junior season included a pair of NESCAC Player of the Week honors, an All-Conference First Team selection and an IWLCA All-America Second Team nod.

Also returning significant experience on the attack will be senior tri-captain Caki Guinee and juniors Christina Hopkins and Hannah Walker. While Guinee experienced career-highs with three goals and six assists as a junior, Hopkins and Walker combined for 47 points last year, with Hopkins netting 14 goals and Walker dishing out a team-high 20 assists. Providing depth on the attack and returning after a promising first year is sophomore Annie Morrison.

Returning Midfielders
Highlighting the returning midfielders is senior quad-captain and 2006 National Rookie of the Year Mary Noonan. A three-time IWLCA All-Region selection, Noonan burst onto the scene with 30 goals and nine assists as a first-year, earning her All-NESCAC and All-America honors to go along with her ROY award. Noonan followed up with 31 points as a sophomore before her 31 goals and 18 assists as a junior bumped her career point total to 119. 

Earning IWLCA All-Region Second Team honors last year as sophomores were Tyler Tory-Murphy and Kathleen Scheld, who will join Noonan as significant contributors in the midfield. While Scheld finished second on last year’s team in ground balls with 41 and added eight goals and 20 caused turnovers, Tory-Murphy picked up 39 ground balls, caused 24 turnovers and scored 20 goals as one of the Jeffs’ most well-rounded players.

Looking to build on impressive first years are sophomores Robyn Lightner and Kelley Trapp. Lightner saw significant playing time as a spark off the bench, totaling five goals (including the eventual game-winner at Williams) and three assists in her debut season. Trapp started in all 19 of Amherst’s games last year, finishing fourth on the team in goals (21) and points (28) and adding 29 ground balls, 16 draw controls and 13 caused turnovers. In the NCAA Tournament first-round game against Endicott, Trapp helped lead the Jeffs into the Round of 16 by scoring four goals and adding an assist.

Returning Defenders
Amherst will turn to junior Natalie Singer and sophomore Liz Foye to anchor the defense. Having started in 18 of 19 games last year, Singer recorded 23 ground balls and caused 19 turnovers during an impressive sophomore season. Foye gained valuable experience last year by coming off the bench in 15 games, as she should provide another solid option on defense. Also looking to play more significant roles this year on defense are sophomores Katie Guthrie, Lauren Gleason and Gigi Maturo.

After spending her first year as McEvoy’s backup, sophomore Caroline Burke will be fighting for a starting role as Amherst’s goalkeeper. A technically-sound goalie, Burke showed promise by recording an impressive 6.28 goals-against average in her three games last season.

Amherst was looking to senior tri-captain Catherine Calvert to lead this year’s defense, but she will miss her senior campaign due to a concussion she suffered at the end of her field hockey season. Calvert started in all 19 of the Jeffs’ games last year during a breakout junior season, leading the NESCAC in ground balls (49) and finishing third in caused turnovers (26) to earn an All-Conference First Team selection. A NESCAC All-Academic honoree, Calvert was also named to the 2008 IWLCA All-Region First Team and All-America Second Team.

A stellar first-year class will round out the Amherst squad this year, as head coach Chris Paradis welcomes Claire Bennett, Nancy Denious, Josie Fisher, Lamia Harik, Allie Horwitz, Meredith LaRose, Lindsey Moran, Meaghan Tigh, Julia Viani and Courtney Zitin to the team.

2009 Season Outlook
With a promising group of first-years and a deep core of veterans with experience in the NCAA Tournament, Amherst will be in search of its first conference title. The Lord Jeff Class of 2009 has already made a pair of appearances in the national quarterfinals, and a third is possible if Amherst can find success in the always-competitive NESCAC. The 2009 season begins Saturday, Mar. 7, when the Jeffs host Tufts University at noon on Gooding Field.

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