- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 15 February 2017
- Written by CHRIS FITZSIMMONS | STAFF WRITER
The women’s lacrosse team is looking to build off of last season’s success in which the team finished 12-8 overall and 6-2 in conference games. The main highlight of last season was their first ever appearance in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championship game where they suffered a loss to Canisius.
Monmouth was voted as the second best team in the pre-season MAAC women’s lacrosse coaches’ poll with last year’s champion, Canisius, finishing as the unanimous number one ranked team. Hopes are high for the season, according to Head Coach Eileen Ghent.
“Our expectations are very high; we are expecting to do well in the MAAC,” Ghent said. “We have a really competitive out-of-conference schedule that leads up to the MAAC. We are expecting to do well right off the bat, but we will see.”
Ghent, who is entering her second year as head coach, will face the difficult task of replacing six starters, including Marial Pierce, Kristina Vangeli and Caroline Huelster, who were First Team All-MAAC last year. Six starters will return, including pre-season All-MAAC attacker, junior Alexa Smith and 11 newcomers were added in the off-season. The defensive unit took the brunt of the departures as only one player, junior defender Amanda Miller, returns as a starter.
Senior mid-fielder Ashely Cross, senior mid-fielder Claudia LaMarca and junior defender Amanda Miller were selected as team captains. LaMarca returns this season after missing all of last year with a knee injury. She was named to the MAAC All-Rookie team as a freshman and she believes the team is more than primed to take on the new season.
“I think this year we’re going into our first game more prepared than ever before,” LaMarca said. “Our fitness level is definitely at its peak: our run times as a whole are the fastest they’ve been all year and we’ve been pushing really heavy weight in the gym. We’re all just really excited to see everything come together.”
Monmouth’s schedule is daunting, facing off against numerous top teams that will put the team to the test. Monmouth will play eight of their 17 games at home this year and six of their games will be shown on ESPN3. Ghent does not see the difficult schedule as a detriment and instead looks forward to the challenge.
“Our 2017 slate features three squads in the top 25, in addition to facing teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big 10, Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) and Big East conferences. Playing top teams in the beginning of the season will not only challenge us to continually improve, it will most importantly prepare us for our MAAC opponents.” Ghent said.
Things certainly came together for the team as they registered their first victory of the season in their opening game. The win did not come easy as they defeated George Washington University on Saturday afternoon 16-15 after overcoming multiple deficits to prevail in the end.
The Hawks trailed 9-6 at the half and at its apex, the Hawks found themselves down 12-6 before manufacturing a comeback. Monmouth did so with a 6-0 run, capped off with the tying goal delivered by junior mid-fielder Kate Ryan. George Washington would regain the lead but junior mid-fielder Caroline Corbliss would bury two goals, back to back, to give the Hawks the 14-13 lead.
The Colonials would not go down so easily and with 23 seconds remaining, George Washington tied the score. Monmouth freshman defender Megan Hart collected the ensuing draw which set up senior attacker Oliva Higson to supply the game winner with four seconds on the clock. Five different Hawks had multiple goals with freshman attacker Nicole Ceraso, who was named MAAC Rookie of the Week, leading the team with four.
“I’m proud of how we reacted to adversity,” Ghent said. “We played as a team and always kept pushing forward. (George Washington) Coach (Tracy) Coyne and her team showed a lot of fire power and will surely have a successful season ahead of them.”
Monmouth has now won its opening game for the ninth time in program history and has defeated George Washington for the second season in a row. Monmouth’s next game will be against Temple University in Philadelphia, PA today at 3 p.m. and they follow that game up with a Saturday tilt against Rutgers in New Brunswick at 11 a.m.
PHOTO COURTESY of Bill Ryan