Cortland Women’s Lacrosse 2017 Season Preview

The Cortland Women’s Lacrosse team has been successful for a very long time. To show you exactly how successful, let us take a look at some numbers:

18: Consecutive SUNYAC championships won
6: Consecutive years they have made it to the Final Four
106: Wins in those six years
7: Losses in those six years
7: Consecutive years without a home loss
3: All-Americans last season
4: Losses that this senior class has experienced
1: National Championship

Year after year, this team is expected to do well. It’s no different this year and the senior class knows that. That is why I sat down with a few of them to talk about their upcoming season.

It takes a lot to live up to the standard of Cortland Women’s Lacrosse, who is currently ranked 2nd in the nation with a 2-0 record. That standard includes keeping the home winning streak, winning SUNYACS, making it to the final four and overall keeping the winning tradition alive. Being a top-tier team is not easy and it’s tough for them being in a conference such as the SUNYAC, because, as defender Hilary O’Neil points out, “every other team that goes to the final four has good competition throughout the season and we are known for not having as good of competition.” Therefore, no matter the opponent, Kaitlin Antelmi says, they will be “taking it game by game and make sure that day you’re just putting everything you have into that day. You can’t look past a team because people come to play their best against Cortland lacrosse.” To them, that means focusing on getting ground balls, not letting up too many goals and finessing their plays on offense by getting them right and running them through multiple times.

Nonetheless, before they get into their conference play, which they usually roll through, the Red Dragons will play three straight non-conference games against these top 10 teams:

Franklin and Marshall – 21-3 record in 2016, two straight final four appearances
Catholic – 13-8 record in 2016, lost to Cortland in quarterfinals last year
TCNJ – 20-2 record in 2016, currently ranked 5th Nationally

Franklin and Marshall (ranked 8th) faced off for the first time this past Saturday, March 11th in Pennsylvania and Cortland experienced their first regular season loss since 2015. With a score of 12-2, Franklin and Marshall took everything they had to the Red Dragons and controlled the game. They won the draws, got the ground balls and took advantage of every scoring opportunity they had. Before this game was played, the girls knew this would be a good test to see where they stand. Now they know what it will take from them and they hope to bounce back against their next opponent.

Catholic (ranked 6th) has a history with Cortland, with the Red Dragons coming out on top each time in recent years. In 2015, they beat Catholic 13-12 to advance to the Final Four on their way to winning the National Championship. Catholic has not forgotten that and the girls tell me that Catholic says they “stole” that National Championship from them. However, last year Cortland continued their success by beating them 19-7 during the regular season and then again 18-2, in a quarterfinals rematch. There is always a lot of hype for this game, so I look forward to seeing it unfold when they face off in Baltimore next Wednesday, March 15th at 4 pm.

TCNJ(ranked 5th) came to Cortland last year and the Red Dragons defeated them 16-9. They are a solid team that has made it to regional finals in the past few years, just missing out of the Final Four. For this year’s team, it will be another game to show where they rank against top opponents. They will see each other in New Jersey on Saturday, March 18th at 1 pm. Overall, Cortland has their work cut out for them in the coming week and will need every girl on the roster to come out with a win.

Key losses

Midfield: Tara Monaghan (94pts), Ashley Gentile (88pts) Attack: Nikki Bello (54pts) Defense: Colleen Wright (35 ground balls)

There was a starter in every position in the 2016 senior class and in the top 5 statistical performers, three of them were seniors who contributed to 39% of the points accumulated by the team. However, last year’s senior class did even more than contributing on the field and in the stat book. Kaitlin said it best when she said, “Leading by example for those girls were huge. You saw them play like that, so I wanted to play like that. It wasn’t all talk, it was actually doing it.” This year’s senior class hope to do the same. They feel that they (2017 senior class) are the x-factors for the team to do well. As attacker, Kristen Ohberg said, “because we have such a young team, all of us set the tone. Each and every single one of us, whether it’s off or on the field, has a big part.” Which Hilary added to by saying, “a lot of our seniors are involved in the game, there are not many seniors that are sitting on the bench for a long time, so I think it’s our part to get everyone up and involved in the game.”

Key Additions

Midfield: Lexie Meager (Freshman) Attack: Molly Newton (Freshman) Defense: Jordynn Aiello (Freshman)

These are three of the nine freshmen on the team. In the first two games, midfielder, Lexie, has one assist and four goals, with three of those goals coming in her first collegiate game against Clarkson. The seniors all agreed that she did not look timid or scared to be out there and overall, Lexie does not play like a freshman. Even after watching just one game, I can tell she will be a force to be reckoned with in years to come, especially with her presence in the circle and winning the draws. Moving on to the attack, Kristen said that Molly “has a great vision of the field, she’s a great assister, and she’ll take the ball when she needs to.” Molly’s vision along with Lexie’s athletic offense will play a big role in replacing the offense that left with the seniors last year. On the defensive end, Jordynn has already played in the first two games, which is huge because, as Senior goalie, Jackie Beshlian stated, “Defense is one of those things where if you don’t click, it’s not going to work, you all need to click or it’s going to fall apart.” Jordynn already looks to be a player who can work with the returners and be a part of that defensive unit.

Last but not least, when asked what the overall team goal is for the team, there was no hesitation when they all said, “Win a Natty!” Even though they have one National Championship game and win under their belt they are not satisfied. Last year they were the favorites to win and came up short in the Final Four, so they have “unfinished business” to attend to this year. That is their motivation to get back to the final game and be the last one standing yet again. I look forward to watching their journey all season toward that goal. It will be a fun, exciting and enjoyable season to follow along. Good luck to the 2017 Women’s Lacrosse team!

If you would like to watch the games, whether it be in person or online, check out their schedule.

To check out more of my work, check out my personal blog!

 

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