February 18, 2011

Gettysburg Women Adapt to New Roles

from press release

GETTYSBURG, Pa. – Adaptability will be the name of the game for the 2011 edition of the Gettysburg College women's lacrosse team as the veterans look to establish themselves as strong leaders and the newcomers aim to prove their talent in the college game.

Gettysburg finished 18-4 last spring and made a run to the national semifinals for the fourth time in five seasons. However, the roster took a heavy hit due to graduation, losing over 70 percent of its offense and most of its starting defense. Gone are All-Americans Nina Emala, Hollis Stahl, and Jessica Crane as well as All-Centennial Conference defenders Anna Scanlan, Nicole Ditillo, and Kristen Krammer.

It's nothing new to Head Coach Carol Cantele, who is heading into her 19th season with the Orange and Blue with a career record of 248-84. Cantele has seen All-Americans come and go, and yet Gettysburg has maintained a winning tradition that has made it one of the elite programs in NCAA Division III.

"Certainly they were a class that left a big footprint," said Cantele in reference to the Class of 2010. "Our current players know that to maintain that tradition, they are going to have to step it up. They seem excited and optimistic to do just that."

"Some of the players that were understudies last year," she added, "are now going to be charged with filling a leadership role this spring. They are going to have to be comfortable with a new position of organizing the attack. The same will hold true on the defensive end of the field."

The leadership on the offensive end of the field will be centered around the trio of senior Marnie Commins (Fairfax Station, Va./Robinson), junior Hannah Church (Ellicott City, Md./Mount de Sales), and sophomore Lindsey Robinson (Potomac, Md./Holton-Arms).

Commins emerged as one of the top feeders in the conference last spring with 30 assists in 21 games, while Church is the team's top returning scorer, netting 37 goals and 20 assists during her sophomore campaign. Church in particular shined during Gettysburg's run to the national semifinals, putting up 17 points in three NCAA games. Robinson was the leading scorer among the freshmen class, netting 18 goals and 31 points.

Other returning players that will assume a more prominent role include sophomores Lindsay Menton (Ellicott City, Md./Glenelg Country School) and Haley Stauch (Trappe, Md./Sts. Peter & Paul). The duo combined for 19 goals and 11 assists last season.

Gettysburg's nationally-ranked defense will be without a starting goalkeeper and a number of key defensive players. However, the Bullets' lone returning All-American will still be on patrol in senior Becky Lutz (Madison, Conn./Daniel Hand). A two-time first-team All-CC selection and the fans' pick for Lax Magazine DIII Player of the Year, Lutz ranked among the top three on the team in ground balls, draws controls, and caused turnovers during the 2010 campaign.

Lutz will have some help from several emerging players. Junior Lexi Kelly (Ridley Park, Pa./Agnes Irwin School) was named a co-captain alongside Lutz and Commins and started a dozen contests last season. Sophomore Kat Nestor (Darien, Conn./Darien) saw her debut campaign end early with a torn ACL, but she has fully recovered from the injury and is prepped to resume a starting role.

Cantele also singled out the improved play of sophomores Alex Casey (Jenkintown, Pa./Abington) and Mairead McGuirk (Bel Air, Md./John Carroll School), both of whom have the potential to make a significant impact on the defensive end.

An area of concern for Gettysburg will be at goalkeeper. Krammer left some sizeable shoes to fill as the school's all-time wins leader (58) with a career goals against average of 8.15.

Challenging for time in the cage this spring will be senior Laura McIntyre (Glenmoore, Pa./Coatesville), junior Maddie Coleman (Lexington, Va./Rockbridge County), and freshman Jenn Levy (Manhasset, N.Y./Manhasset). McIntyre is the most experienced of the three with 21 games played and a 4.99 GAA.

"We have a small but important core of returning players that knows what it takes to get where they want to go," said Cantele. "The team has set goals and it continues to keep the bar raised."

While the upperclassmen will provide stability and leadership to the team, it will be newcomers that will provide an identity and help define the squad this spring. More than half of the roster is composed of players that have never picked up a lacrosse stick for Gettysburg.

"Our hopes are that the incoming class learns quickly," noted Cantele. "They need to adapt to the pace that is required at this level, and they are doing a decent job of that so far. Not only the first-years, but everyone needs time with each other to figure out each other's tendencies. With every practice the team seems to be getting more comfortable with each other."

For many of the newcomers, next week's opening game against the University of Mary Washington will be their first taste of collegiate competition. However, several players have varsity experience already under their belts as members of the Bullets field hockey program.

"They have that advantage of putting on a collegiate jersey and representing a tough field hockey program," said Cantele.

Sophomore Hayward Sawers (Timonium, Md./St. Paul's School for Girls) and freshmen Liz Baron (Basking Ridge, N.J./Ridge), Megan Quigg (Sykesville, Md./Century), and Kelly Spieker (Westminster, Md./Winters Mill) each competed for the field hockey program this fall. Baron started all 18 contests and was named All-CC Second Team as a midfielder.

Sawers has the added advantage of a full season of lacrosse competition at the University of Florida. She competed in seven contests in the Gators' inaugural season of lacrosse.

Nearly all of the newcomers have played on a big stage before. Quigg, Spieker, Loren Pruitt (Moorestown, N.J./Moorestown), and Kendall Akey (Alexandria, Va./St. Stephen's & St. Agnes School) each led their respective high school teams to state titles in 2010. Freshman defender Paige McKenna (Chatham, N.J./Chatham) led her high school alma mater to the state semifinals last season.

Cantele also indicated freshmen Kelsey Markiewicz (Taconic, Conn./Berkshire School (Mass.) and Bailey Beardsley (Union Bridge, Md./Francis Scott Key) could make significant contributions as a midfielder and attacker, respectively. Fellow first-years Katie Blumenthal (Malvern, Pa./Academy of Notre Dame), Grace Ciolfi (Scituate, Mass./Notre Dame Academy) and Izzy Nagel (Darnestown, Md./Holy Child) will each aim to factor into the attacking scheme this spring.

Gettysburg's early-season chemistry will be tested early and often as the Bullets face a schedule which contains six nationally-ranked opponents according to preseason polls. In addition to its match up with No. 16 Mary Washington in the season opener, the squad faces No. 2 Hamilton College, No. 3 Franklin & Marshall College, No. 4 The College of New Jersey, No. 10 Stevens Institute of Technology, and No. 13 Catholic University.

"The schedule will help define who we are," said Cantele. "We maintain the belief that to be the best, you have to play the best. I expect the team to play hard regardless of who's in front of them."

Gettysburg kicks off the 2011 campaign against Mary Washington at Clark Field on Thursday, Feb. 24, at 4 p.m. Following a two-game trip to Orlando, Fla., to play Stevens and Hamilton, the Bullets open their conference slate at home against Haverford College on March 19 at 1 p.m. The team faces TCNJ at home on April 1 at 5 p.m. with its annual showdown against Franklin & Marshall on April 20 at 7 p.m.

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