- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 17 February 2016
- Written by CONNOR WHITE | SPORTS EDITOR
The MU women’s lacrosse team played their first game of the 2016 season against Towson last Wednesday, falling to the Tigers, 9-1.
However, despite the loss, first-year head coach Eileen Ghent is happy to get back on the field and believes her team is ready to make a big impact.
“Even though we lost, we played at a high-speed, and that’s what we want to do as a team,” Ghent said. “That’s why we play such a good pre-conference schedule—to get us prepared for the season. Mistakes are acceptable, as long as we have good energy, and play at a fast pace.”
The women’s lacrosse team will kick off conference play on Mar. 26 against Siena.
Ghent took over this year for previous head coach Denise Wescott after serving as an assistant coach for the Hawks the past three years. She is surprised with how well the transition has gone, thanking Wescott for providing her with great preparation.
“It has been a lot smoother than I thought it would be,” Ghent said. “Denise [Wescott] gave me a lot of responsibility as an assistant coach, which really helped my development and prepared me to take on this position.”
Despite losing Wescott before her final season as a Hawk, senior midfielder Marial Pierce is excited about Ghent being named head coach. She believes the young coaching staff (none of the three coaches have more than one year experience at their current position with MU) will establish a comfortability with newcomers and are more than capable of leading the team to success.
“It’s been an easy transition,” Pierce, who netted 31 goals last season and was selected to the 2016 MAAC Preseason All-Conference Team, said. “It’s nice to see things that she [Ghent] pushed for as an assistant coming to fruition as head coach. She’s a great motivator and makes the team feel really close—you never feel like she’s talking down on you.”
Joining Pierce on the Preseason All-Conference Team is senior defender Kristina Vangeli. Both players were given the honors of first team last year when the season ended as well. Vangeli, who earned third team All-American status last year, says the awards give her extra motivation on the field.
“It’s nice to see your hard work recognized, but I see it as more motivation to do better,” Vangeli said. “The bar is set higher and I need to keep doing anything I can for the best of the team.”
The Hawks will be returning eight starters from last year’s squad, who finished with a 12-6 record (6-2 MAAC) and lost to 2015 conference champion Fairfield in the second round of the MAAC tournament, 8-7. However, after their impressive effort in that game, Pierce believes MU has proven they can compete with the best teams in the league.
“The teams are all so talented, and there was a small margin at the top of the conference last year in terms of winning and losing to one another,” she said. “There’s no reason we shouldn’t expect to be right back up at the top.”
The Hawks are projected to finish third in the conference, according to the MAAC pre-season polls. Last year’s runner-up Canisius is ranked at number one, with reigning champs Fairfield holding the second spot.
However, one big loss the Hawks will suffer this year comes in the vital position of goalie. MU is losing Katie Donohoe, who manned the goal for the Hawks for four straight years, earning Second Team All-MAAC honors. Taking over her spot will be senior Caroline Huelster.
“The change will impact the defense the most,” Ghent said. “There was so much consistency with Katie—they knew what to expect. But Caroline played really well against Towson and has a great senior confidence about her. Plus, there are two freshman goalies who are fighting for the spot, making [Caroline] work even harder to get better.”
That freshman class consists of eight members, including Monica Cortes, Theresa Danetti, Jenny Staines, Dana Spires, Logan Smet, Stephanie Delliturri, Emma Stukenberg and Riley Brager. Ghent believes in friendly competition within a team, and that there is no set starting lineup.
“The competition will always be there,” she said. “We are going to play the best players for that particular day, no matter who it may be.”
As for Pierce and Vangeli, they have high hopes looking forward. “I want to win the MAAC tournament,” Vangeli said. “I don’t think there’s any other way to go out,” Pierce said.
PHOTO COURTESY of Dan Stambaugh