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PSU Women’s Lacrosse to open spring season

Trip to Oregon highlights Panthers’ 2011 campaign

              PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University women’s lacrosse team is scheduled to open the 2011 season this Saturday with a visit to Castleton State College for a 1:00 p.m. non-conference match-up.

            Saturday’s contest is the first of nine straight road games for PSU to start the season. The Panthers will also travel to Worcester State University on March 10, and will make a cross-country trip to play two games in Oregon during the school’s Spring Break (Mar. 19-26).  One of the Oregon contests is against Pacific University, which is guided by former PSU head coach Wynne Lobel.

PSU Women's Lacrosse Season Preview 2011
  Head Coach Kristin Blanchette

              Following several more games around New England in late March and early April, the PSU home opener is slated for Thursday, Apr. 14, against Bridgewater State at Arold Field.  After a heavy travel schedule to start the season, the Panthers will play five of their final six regular season games on home turf.

            The Panthers will play 15 regular season games, wrapping up by the end of April, and the annual LEC Tournament begins Tuesday, May 3.  The conference champion will be crowned on May 7, and will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

2011 PSU Women’s Lacrosse Outlook

            Led by second-year head coach Kristin Blanchette, PSU is gearing up for a strong season in the Little East Conference.  The Panthers are coming off a 10-6 season in 2010, which included a 5-1 mark in the Little East and a share of the LEC regular season title.  Coach Blanchette welcomes back nine veterans from last year’s squad.

            “We have strong experience at every position on the field,” said Blanchette.  “We don’t have one or two top players that the other teams can focus on; everyone is a threat on the field and that should make us a tough team to defend.”

            The Panthers will have to get along without Kalie Judd, a two-time All-LEC First Team midfielder and an All-Region selection last year.

            “We have a great group of student-athletes who are very committed and dedicated,” said Blanchette.  “They’re determined to achieve a lot this year.  Our goal is to win the Little East, because that’s how we get to the NCAA Tournament, which is the ultimate goal.”

            Blanchette says the Panthers will be strong defensively this spring, led by a veteran defense and depth at the goalie position.

            “Our strength is our defense,” said Blanchette.  “We have three very talented goalies that are doing a tremendous job leading the defense.  We should be capable of doing a lot more this year, showing more looks on defense because of our experience and athleticism.”

            Junior Ally Baribault (Middle Haddam, Conn./Hebron Academy, Maine) is the only returning goalie for the Panthers, although she has limited experience.  Freshman Lorin Field (Hollis, N.H./Hollis-Brookline) has been very impressive in the preseason, and classmate Steph Paynter (Danbury, Conn.) can also step in.

            Juniors Nora Regan (West Hartford, Conn./Northwest Catholic) and Jill Gerzabek (Branford, Conn./Branford) are returning veteran defenders who will provide leadership to the defense, and will be key in helping along the younger players. Junior Paige Tollner (Nashua, N.H./Nashua North) also brings experience to the defensive unit.

            Blanchette says sophomores Caitlin Swanson (Holderness, N.H./Plymouth Regional) and Kristen Guest (Sandwich, Mass.) have been impressive in preseason and should be the backbone of PSU’s midfield play.

            “Those two have improved tremendously since the fall and will be relied upon heavily,” said Blanchette.  “Freshman Emily Buckle (Danbury, Conn.) has also been outstanding in the midfield in preseason and will step into a big role this spring.”

            The Panthers will look to several players to provide offense this spring rather than relying on just one or two for goals.  Leading the way will be senior Kathryn Rogers (Wolfeboro, N.H./Kingswood), junior Jenn Foley (Tewksbury, Mass.), and sophomore Marie Lander (Ossipee, N.H./Kingswood).

            “Kathryn and Jenn got a lot of playing experience last year, starting every game, so we are really relying on them to lead and help direct our attack," said Blanchette. “Marie has also shown a lot of confidence and improvement and she will be a big offensive threat for us as well.  We have a lot of new faces on our attack but everyone can put the ball in the back of the net which makes us a solid threat to our opponents.”

            Blanchette says the Little East is wide open this year, with several teams capable of winning the championship.

            “We have a very balanced conference,” said Blanchette.  “For example, Southern Maine won the tournament as the fifth seed last year.  It just goes to show that the championship is up for grabs.  It’s going to be a game-to-game thing; whoever comes to play against any team on a given day can win.  We’re excited to get the season started.” 

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