February 22, 2010

Table Set for Gettysburg Women's 2010 Run

from press release

GETTYSBURG, Pa.  - Hosting the 2010 NCAA Division II and III Women's Lacrosse Championships could not have come at a better time for Gettysburg College as the women's lacrosse team returns one of the deepest and most experienced rosters in program history.

Coming off its third appearance in the national semifinals in the last four seasons, Gettysburg returns all but one starter and 19 letterwinners this year. The Bullets enter the year ranked third in the nation by Lacrosse Magazine and the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) and if they can live up to the expectations, they'll wind up playing the semifinals and championship on the home turf of Clark Field on May 22-23.

"We are certainly motivated and embracing the fact that if all goes well and we stay in the present, that focus could result in us playing on Clark Field in May," said Head Coach Carol Cantele '83. "We're not going to ignore it. It's something we're embracing."

In her 18th year with the Orange and Blue, Cantele has led the team to six Centennial Conference championships and nine NCAA appearances. Despite a three-year drought on conference trophies, the Bullets have made the most of their trips to the national tournament, including three wins last spring before a one-goal loss to Salisbury University in the semis.

Ten seniors anchor a loaded roster, with all but two of the returning players having cracked the starting lineup at some point. That type of experience could breed over-confidence, but the coaching staff has made a consistent effort to keep the team's mind in the present, and not on what looms on the horizon.

"While we're going to certainly recognize that we bring back a great deal of experience, confidence, and expectations," noted Cantele, "we also understand that every year is a different dynamic. That's where we're focusing. We're not going to refer to last year anymore. We're going to stay in the here and the now."

Among the returnees are a pair of first-team All-Americans in Hollis Stahl (Hightstown, N.J./Peddie School) and Nina Emala (Baltimore, Md./Bryn Mawr School). Stahl was named the CC and ECAC Player of the Year after pouring in 64 goals, while Emala put up the 10th-best scoring season in school history with 81 total points. The duo will likely be the focus of some of the top defenders in Division III this spring, but Cantele is confident in their coping abilities.

"What I'm asking them to do is to be very adaptable and find joy in the fact that maybe they are going to face-guarded," said Cantele. "Instead of letting that take them out of a game, look for the things they can do to enable someone else to shine that day."

There will be plenty of other options on offense for the Bullets with the top seven scorers returning, including co-captain Lexie Hearn (Old Greenwich, Conn./Greenwich) and first-team all-region selection Jessica Crane (Sudbury, Mass./Lincoln-Sudbury), who netted 54 and 43 points respectively. Crane picked up all-region and all-league honors last spring, while Hearn is coming off conference accolades with the Bullets' field hockey program.

Coming off breakout seasons offensively are junior Marnie Commins (Fairfax Station, Va./Robinson) and senior Lauren Woodman (Denver, Colo./Kent). Commins put up 40 points in her first full season as a starter, while Woodman tallied personal bests for goals (15) and assists (11) in 2009. Sophomore Hannah Church (Ellicott City, Md./Mount de Sales) and junior Allegra Formento (Princeton, N.J./Princeton) turned in productive first seasons in orange and blue, each netting 16 goals a year ago, while senior Erin Cushing (Alexandria, Va./Bishop Ireton) adds even more experience to a veteran offensive rotation.

Gettysburg's defense has made it commonplace to rank among the nation's elite teams and the Bullets capped 2009 with the 10th-rated defensive unit in Division III. The squad's only loss to the starting lineup was in the backfield in 2009 graduate Sara Tolner, but several well-versed players are ready to fill the vacancy. Experience and depth will play a big role in Cantele's defensive scheme this spring.

"Getting back in the groove has been relatively easy because they know each other so well. We're going to rely on some of our standard defensive sets that enabled us to garner that success, but we've also added a few more aggressive defenses that will invite the opposing player in. We'll have them in their weak hand and hopefully they're taking shots under duress that our goalies can see."

Leading the defensive unit will be returning all-region and all-conference selections Nicole Ditillo (Baldwin, Md./Fallston) and Becky Lutz (Madison, Conn./Daniel Hand). Ditillo was a force on and off the field for Gettysburg, becoming the program's first Academic All-American and finishing among the team leaders in ground balls (32), draw controls (38), and caused turnovers (17). Lutz was the team's most aggressive defender and paced the squad with 33 caused turnovers. She was the only sophomore to earn All-Metro Region accolades.

Seniors Anna Scanlan (Lutherville, Md./Roland Park Country School) and Emily Gaffney (Skaneateles, N.Y./Skaneateles) are coming off breakthrough seasons on the defensive side of the field. Scanlan shined in the NCAA Tournament, netting nine ground balls and six caused turnovers in three games, while Gaffney played in every game, including starting the final seven. One of the leading candidates to fill the starting spot vacated by Tolner is sophomore Lexi Kelly (Ridley Park, Pa./Agnes Irwin School) who has developed into one of the team's leading crease defenders.

Gettysburg's defense will be able to take a more aggressive approach thanks to a veteran goalkeeping corps. At the head of the group is senior Kristen Krammer (Woodbine, Md./Glenelg), a four-year starter in the cage and a two-time all-conference selection. Krammer finished 11th in Division III in GAA last season and is only 10 wins shy of the school record for career victories.

Krammer has a lock on the starting spot, but each of the three players behind her are capable of stepping into the leading role. Juniors Laura Block (Leesburg, Va./Foxcroft School) and Laura McIntyre (Glenmoore, Pa./Coatesville) have seen ample time in between the pipes, while sophomore Maddie Coleman (Lexington, Va./Rockbridge County) has entered the season in excellent shape and with an air of confidence according to the coaching staff.

By all accounts, Gettysburg appears ready to tackle the expectations and hype already bestowed upon them prior to the start of the season. That being said, Cantele and company are not going to look too far ahead.

"We're going to be prepared for every game and make that game our focus," said Cantele. "We want to learn from the previous game but not look too far down the road. Every game is one step closer. Every game is significant."

Instead of opening 2010 on the road for the first month as originally scheduled, unplayable field conditions at the University of Mary Washington have moved the season opener to Clark Field on Thursday, Feb. 25, at 4 p.m. The Bullets will face four teams ranked in the preseason national rankings this season, including No. 8 Catholic University (March 11), No. 6 Middlebury College (March 23), No. 5 College of New Jersey April 3), and No. 1 Franklin & Marshall College (April 21). The CC Tournament is slated to begin April 28 with the first round, followed by the semifinals and championship on May 1-2.

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