PLYMOUTH, N.H. - It's still winter on the calendar, but the Plymouth State University women's lacrosse team opens up the 2008 spring season this Friday with a non-conference game at Babson College (3:00 p.m.) in Wellesley, Mass.
The Panthers are hoping to continue their string of success this decade. PSU has made eight consecutive post-season appearances (four NCAA, four ECAC), winning four Little East Conference championships and three ECAC New England titles. The Panthers won the ECAC title last season and finished with a 14-5 record.
PSU will make its annual Spring Break trip to Florida the third week of March, where they will play one game against Rowan University. The first of the 11 contests back in New England is the Little East Conference opener at Western Connecticut State University on Friday, March 28.
The first home game at Arold Field is scheduled for Thursday, April 10, against Granite State rival Keene State College. The regular season wraps up the last week of April, and the annual LEC Tournament is the first week in May, with the winner receiving an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
2008 PSU Women's Lacrosse Outlook
The Panthers will have to overcome the loss of nine starters, including three-time LEC Player of the Year Kelsey MacDonald, but second-year head coach Abi Jackson (right) feels this year's squad should be successful.
"We graduated a powerhouse senior class and lost several others unexpectedly, but we've gotten some great additions, too, and the returning players have gained valuable experience the past couple years. It might seem like a rebuilding year with so many new starters, but from what I've seen so far, the girls are certainly more than capable of playing up to the same level."
One of PSU's top returnees, senior defender and two-year co-captain Jackie Connerty (Nashua, N.H.) suffered an injury on the first day of pre-season practice and will be unable to play this season.
"That was a huge loss for us," said Jackson, "but she's going to provide a lot of leadership from the bench and we can use her talent in other ways."
Helping to pick up the slack defensively will be junior returning starter Kate Pacheco (Salem, N.H.). She showed great improvement last year and is continuing that trend this year. She should definitely anchor the defense, according to Jackson. Sophomore newcomers Lauren Germano (Glastonbury, Conn.) and Maggie Joyce (Tewksbury, Mass.) should also play important roles on defense.
"The defense that we play is just about hard work, so it doesn't really matter that there are so many new faces," said Jackson, "I'm confident we'll be successful back there."
Senior Sarah Beebe (Rumson, N.J.), who posted a 10-4 record as the top goalie in 2006, is back and should hold down the starting job. Freshman Ashleigh McGuire (Warwick, R.I.) is recovering from an injury and will provide a suitable back-up when she's back at 100 percent.
The Panthers have several returnees in the midfield area of the field. Junior Sarah Bryant (Arrowsic, ME/Morse) came on toward the end of last season and should be a solid contributor this spring. Coach Jackson is also expecting strong play from sophomores Rhiannon Groff (Nashua, N.H./North) and Selina Mazzola (Hollis, N.H.) and junior Melissa Dark (Peterborough, N.H./ConVal), a trio of experienced veterans, along with speedy sophomore Kerry D'Ambroise (Lowell, Mass.). Senior Melissa Caflisch (Clymer, N.Y.) is a newcomer to the team, and freshman Michaela Rice (Weirs Beach, N.H.) has great natural ability, according to Jackson, and should be a strong defensive midfielder.
Sophomore Taylor Cambal (West Yarmouth, Mass./Tabor Academy) leads the group of attackers after scoring 28 goals in a strong rookie campaign. Junior Ellen Parent (Hampton, N.H./Winnacunnet) gives the team another veteran on attack, while sophomore Kalie Judd (Peabody, Mass./Veterans Memorial) and freshman Kathryn Rogers (Wolfeboro, N.H./Kingswood) are very promising new offensive players.
Junior defender Amanda Kreamer and freshman attack Mollie Metcalfe (Orleans, Mass.) are additional newcomers who are showing promise.
"One of our goals is to definitely win the conference," said Jackson. "Although our season was great, the one disappointing note last year was that we didn't do that. The girls have that goal in their sights and it will be to our advantage that people outside of Plymouth don't think we'll be as good."
"I'm really excited," added Jackson. "The girls have awesome attitudes and are working very hard and we will be successful because of that."
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