By Joseph Wetzler, Staff Writer
February 20, 2013
This year, they enter the inaugural season in the Big South Conference as the number one team for women’s lacrosse. This comes as no surprise considering the talent, chemistry and experience the girls on this team have.
The formation of the Big South Conference for women’s lacrosse has been important. They now get to compete for the same championship as the rest of the teams at HPU. Also, they have the ability to receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by winning the conference tournament. That is an exciting incentive to a team that won the NLC tournament just two years ago.
Expectations are high for this team. Coach Lyndsey Boswell believes this team has the most depth since the start of the program two years ago.
“We have a lot more depth this year than we ever have,” says Coach Boswell. “Aside from those 11 starters, we have some girls that can come off the bench and be pretty strong contributors for us right away.”
Along with the depth, the Panthers have a plethora of talent. Former NLC Players of the Year Grace Gaeng (2011) and Mackenzie Carroll (2012) return for their senior and junior year, respectively. Both girls look to fill up the stat sheet as the top attackers on the team.
Senior goalkeeper Anna Wallingford is expected to carry her strong preseason play into the regular season. Wallingford is “crushing” it in practice, according to Boswell.
The midfield is loaded with talent and will look to Jasmine Jordan and Katie McLaughlin to control the game. Christie Dougherty and Sara Kuhlman are physical, scrappy players.
Courtney McLaughlin has taken more of a leadership role on the defensive end in her senior year. Cissy Woodward and Patricia Bigelow are also looked upon to contribute solid and consistent defensive play.
It is hard to improve a team that went 15-4 a season ago and has 11 returning starters. However, Boswell believes that the added experience will be a huge factor in the success of the team.
“I don’t think it’s a skill thing but more of an experience thing,” said Boswell. “They’ve been in big games before that they’ve won and they’ve lost too. Having these seniors as the leaders is a big difference too.”
A slew of big-time schools are on the Panthers schedule including Florida, Ohio State, North Carolina, and Oregon. Coach Boswell believes the team is unfazed by these nationally recognized schools and thinks her team can compete.
“Our girls have so much belief right now that I don’t really know that it does faze them,” says Boswell. “We teach them to not be fazed by these teams because we are very good right now.”
The Panthers have a very tough non-conference schedule to prepare them to win games within the Big South. The goal is to step on the field every game, compete with every team, and win every game. While that is certainly a difficult task, this team has all of the tools to be playing in the NCAA Tournament come May.