PLYMOUTH, N.H. - There will be plenty of challenges for the women's lacrosse team at Plymouth State College in 1998. Besides the traditional battles against perennial powers from the New England Small College Athletic Conference, PSC is a member of the newly-formed New England Women's Lacrosse Alliance and will play a full nine-game conference slate.
Sixth-year head coach Wynn Hohlt has the benefit of 11 veterans returning, one of the more experienced teams in recent years. The Panthers open the season during a spring trip to St. Petersburg, Fla., when they face Williams College next Wednesday (Mar. 25). The New England schedule begins on Tuesday, Mar. 31st, with the first NEWLA contest at New England College.
"We have more experience than we've ever had in the past," said Hohlt. "We have lots of numbers. More and more freshmen come in each year with previous lacrosse experience, and we have a good core of returning players who have been with the program as it has grown. It's exciting to know they could be a part of one of the most successful seasons we've had in years."
The NEWLA games include home contests against UMass Dartmouth, Bridgewater State, Endicott, Elms and Colby-Sawyer, and road match-ups at NEC, Eastern Connecticut, Keene State, and Castleton State. An eight-team post-season tournament is scheduled for the first weekend in May, and beginning in 1999, the league champion will be invited to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
"It presents a lot of good opportunities for success," said Hohlt of the NEWLA. "More of our players will get individual recognition, and we'll have a chance for tournament play in our conference tournament. Then you look at our non-conference schedule. Any time your schedule includes Bowdoin, Colby, Bates and Middlebury, you know it's pretty good."
1998 P.S.C. WOMEN'S LACROSSE OUTLOOK
Hohlt sees not only more depth all over the field, but an improved skill level that should help PSC improve on last year's 3-14 record.
"It's early, but in goal we should be stronger than we have been," said Hohlt. "Defensively, we should be stronger as we have a little more experience there, and offensively we return three players who are in the PSC all-time top 20 in scoring, and we're looking for them to provide the leadership."
Hohlt will look to freshman Lisa Goldberg (Newton, MA) in goal. She was an All-New England soccer goalkeeper for PSC last fall, and has high school lacrosse goaltending experience as well. Junior Brenna Matarazzo (Salem, NH), a three-year varsity basketball player, could play defense or back up Goldberg in goal.
The defense will have to overcome the graduation of last year's top player Barb Schmidt, but Hohlt thinks she has the right group, led by juniors Samantha Guthrie (Falmouth, MA) and Phedra Hamilton (Rindge, NH) and sophomore Jessica Shapiro (Windsor Locks, CT).
"Barb Schmidt was a big loss," said Hohlt. "She was a great leader, and a great defensive leader. But Sam has shown a lot of improvement, and she and Jess and Phedra are going to step it up and we will be able to fill those holes. Freshman Jill Frechette (Sanford, ME) looks promising as well."
Hohlt thinks the midfield will be sound, with a group of veterans that include seniors Carrie Killeen (Greenfield, MA) and Danielle Paradis (Londonderry, NH) and juniors Erin Fitzgerald (Mansfield, CT) and Faith Wahlen (Hampstead, NH). The top newcomers are freshmen Chrystn Pitt (Freeport, ME) and Courtney O'Sullivan (Kingston, NH).
The top two and three of the top four scorers are back from last year. Killeen was the scoring leader with 26 goals and 12 assists, and she is already ninth on the school's all-time scoring list (62 goals, 21 assists, 83 points). Senior Kate Stroh (Cortland, NH) was second on the team last season with 20 goals and eight assists, and is 15th on the all-time list (46 goals, 9 assists, 55 points). Paradis recorded 13 goals and 18 points last season, and ranks 19th on the all-time list (24, 15, 39).
They will have to overcome the loss of Brenda Phelps, who graduated as one of the all-time scoring leaders in school history, and was third on the team last season with 13 goals and eight assists.
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