PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Plymouth State University women's lacrosse team will open the 2010 season this Saturday with a visit to Wellesley College for a 1:00 p.m. opening draw.
The game will mark the debut of PSU head coach Kristin Blanchette, who took over the Panther program last summer. Coach Blanchette is a former team captain at the University of New Hampshire who served coaching stints at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Brown University. She's the older sister of former PSU standout Stephanie Blanchette.
Saturday's contest is also the first of seven straight road games for PSU to start the season. The Panthers will visit Worcester State College, Castleton State College and Framingham State College later this month, and Springfield College, UMass Dartmouth and Eastern Connecticut State University in April before the home opener on Sunday, Apr. 11, against Thomas College.
Coach Blanchette has 10 veterans returning to this year's squad, and a host of promising newcomers who have blended in well during the preseason. The Panthers will be looking to build on last year's third place finish in the Little East Conference.
The Panthers will play 14 regular season games, wrapping up by the first of May, and the annual LEC Tournament begins Tuesday, May 4. The conference champion will be crowned on May 8, and will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
2010 PSU Women's Lacrosse Outlook
Plymouth State has adjusted quite well to the new coaching staff, according to Blanchette (right), and she believes there is a lot of potential for this year's team.
"It's exciting to see them improve every day," said Blanchette, "and I'm confident they'll continue to get better every practice and every game. From day one they've been on board with what we're trying to do and they're really buying into our philosophy. They're really motivated to do well and do big things this spring."
Coach Blanchette admits she's entering this season with an open mind, having not seen last year's performances or the Panther opponents; she's been relying on the leadership of the captains.
"We are fortunate to have a team with such great leaders," says Blanchette. "They've done a fantastic job all year. Successful teams always have strong leaders so I'm excited for our captains to lead the charge this year."
The Panthers have four captains this spring, seniors Kalie Judd (Peabody, Mass./Veterans Memorial), Selina Mazzola (Hollis, N.H./Hollis-Brookline), and Maggie Joyce (Tewksbury, Mass.) and junior Kathryn Rogers (Wolfeboro, N.H./Kingswood). Judd is a two-time All-LEC First Team selection at midfield, while Mazzola and Joyce will line up as starting defenders and Rogers will look to contribute on attack.
"We have a lot of talent in the midfield," says Blanchette, "and a lot of people who can score. They've gelled very quickly in the preseason and I'm excited with what they can do on both ends of the field this spring."
Joining Judd as top players in the midfield for the Panthers will be senior Kerry D'Ambroise (Lowell, Mass.) and sophomore Britney Chiles (North Andover, Mass./North Andover). Sophomores Jenn Foley (Tewksbury, Mass.) and Jill Gerzabek (Branford, Conn./Branford) have also been strong in preseason and are expected to contribute according to Blanchette, and freshman Kristen Guest (Sandwich, Mass.) will also look to provide athleticism and speed and will make an immediate impact.
Coach Blanchette will look to sophomore Brianna Davis (Framingham, Mass./Framingham) to lead the offense. Davis was named Second Team All-LEC last year after scoring 38 goals as a freshman. Rogers has improved and should contribute, and freshman Caitlin Swanson (Holderness, N.H./Plymouth Regional) has been most impressive among the newcomers.
Mazzola and Joyce will lead the defensive unit, and Blanchette says sophomore newcomer Nora Regan (West Hartford, Conn./Northwest Catholic) has been a pleasant surprise and will be a top defender for the Panthers this spring. Freshman Stephanie Demers (Nashua, N.H./Nashua South) and sophomore Paige Tollner (Nashua, N.H./Nashua North) will also look to contribute defensively.
PSU will look to one of two goalies, senior Morgan Lemmon (Gilford, N.H./Bishop Brady) or sophomore Ally Baribault (Middle Haddam, Conn./Hebron Academy, Maine). Both have limited collegiate experience, but Blanchette says they bring different strengths to the position and will both be competing for playing time."
"We're really excited to get started," says Blanchette. "Getting to the LEC Tournament and winning the LEC is a definite goal for us. We've been working hard in the off-season and we're eager to see where we are."
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