February 14, 2014

2014 W&L Women's Lacrosse Season Preview

LEXINGTON, Va. -- Coming off its 14th conference championship and its 13th season of double-digit wins, it's safe to say the Washington and Lee women's lacrosse team has established itself as a top team in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. With 10 starters and four of their Top 5 leading point-scorers returning, the Generals are ready to once again challenge for the conference's crown.

"The work we have been doing as a team since the fall has been tremendous," said Head Coach Brooke O'Brien. "We feel that as a team we are really moving forward and back to what Generals Lacrosse should be about. Our goals this season include winning the ODAC Championship and making a deep NCAA Tournament run."

The Blue and White will feature a balanced 29-woman roster comprised of seven seniors, four juniors, seven sophomores and eleven first-years.

"We have fantastic senior leadership this year and that has really helped the team gel and come together in the fall," noted O'Brien. "We have a lot of talent in our sophomore and junior classes and many talented first-years. We feel like it's going to be a great year and we are excited to get out there and play."

Senior midfielder Meade Brewster and senior defenders Olive Waxter and Leanne Stone are all back for their fourth and final seasons and are the only returning all-conference players.

Brewster earned All-ODAC second team honors last spring, leading the Generals in goals with 37. She was also second on the team with 44 points while starting all 19 games.

"Brewster has been a key asset to us since she arrived and has matured so much over the last few years," said O'Brien. "She entered this season fit and ready to go and is focused on achieving our team goals."

Waxter started 16 games on the Generals' defense, picking up 25 ground balls and causing 23 turnovers en route to a Second Team All-ODAC nod.

"Waxter has seen playing time since her first year and has been a key player," noted O'Brien. "She's battled through many injuries, but she is a tough player and is 100 percent committed to the team. We are hopeful that she will have a strong senior year."

Meanwhile, Stone started 18 of 19 contests and finished with a team-leading 57 ground balls and 25 caused turnovers. She was named First Team All-ODAC, First Team All-Region, First Team VaSID All-State and Third Team All-America during her junior season.

"We expect Stone to be the rock of our defense again this season," said O'Brien. "Her talent and leadership will once again be key to our team's defensive performance."

Rounding out the talented senior class are attackers Margaret Klein and Greta Witter, midfielder Meredith Lavin and goalkeeper Kingsley Schroeder.

Klein finished second on the team in goals (32) and fourth in points (34) while starting every contest as a junior. Witter spent the 2013 season studying abroad in London, but as a sophomore she played in 20 games, making six starts and recorded 26 points on 17 goals and nine assists.

"Witter brings a calmness and maturity to the team that has only helped us this year, we expect her to have a break-out season," stated O'Brien. "Klein has been a crucial play maker for us since she arrived on campus. She brings so much to the table and has been having a phenomenal pre-season. We expect her to have a great senior year."

Lavin started 16 contests and notched 10 goals and four assists to tally 14 points as a junior, while Schroder is a first-year competitor after being a four-year letterwinner with the women's soccer program.

"Schroeder will bring a fresh perspective and help lead the defense. She has been a great addition to the team," noted O'Brien. "Lavin is one of the most solid players we have ever had in the program. She does what she needs to do to help the team be successful and never waivers in that. She is one of the most unselfish people I have ever coached." 

The junior class made up of attacker Catherine Klinedinst, midfielder Sammy Yates, defender Katie McCartin and goalkeeper Cara Mulligan provides additional experience and leadership for the generals this season.  

Klinedinst played in all 19 games, making 14 starts as a sophomore. She tallied 29 points on 16 goals and 13 assists, and also picked up 21 ground balls. 

"Catherine has been battling some injuries in the pre-season, but we are hopeful that she will make her way back to have an even stronger season than last year," noted O'Brien.

Mulligan finished the 2013 season ranked fourth in the ODAC with 132 saves and third in the conference with a 9.51 goals-against average. She also finished second on the team with 41 ground balls.

"Cara is a key leader and is getting better and stronger every day. We are thankful to have her talent and leadership within the defense," commented O'Brien.

McCartin made an appearance in 12 games with three starts as a sophomore. She finished the season with five ground balls and five draw controls. Prior to a season-ending injury, Yates took the field in three games and scooped up three ground balls and had five draw controls last season. 

"Yates is an athletic player, who has worked extremely hard to return from an injury last season," noted O'Brien. "McCartin has been working tremendously hard with a very positive attitude this pre-season. We are hopeful to see her role expand on the field this year." 

Although they are only in their second year of collegiate action, O'Brien believes the sophomores have the ability to step up their on-field performance. The group consists of seven players that made an immediate impact on the Generals' lineup last spring. They appeared in a combined 86 games and made 47 starts.

"The sophomores have shown that they can step up this year and play like upperclassmen," stated O'Brien. "We have a lot of experience and we're looking for them to step into key roles on the field."

Midfielder Emily Conway returns after making an appearance in 16 games, with 14 starts during her rookie season. She finished third on the team with 36 points on 24 goals and 12 assists. 

"We are looking forward to having Emily back in the midfield," commented O'Brien. "She is a dynamic and exciting player."

Attacker Carly Taglienti appeared in 19 games, making 15 starts as a first-year. She recorded 30 points on 21 goals and nine assists to rank fifth on the team.

"Carly is a very intelligent attacker who is accustomed to high pressure situations. She is showing significant growth as an attacker in her sophomore year," said O'Brien. 

Rebecca Dean returns to the defense having started 15 of 19 games over her first year. Last spring, she finished 11th on the team in ground balls (17) and caused turnovers (6).

"We are hoping for Becca to play quality minutes for us this season and to build up on her experience from last season," noted O'Brien.

Caroline Hutchinson has moved from the midfield to the defense this year after notching one goal and one assist, along with seven ground balls and nine draw controls.

"Hutch has been a definite bright spot for us this pre-season. She arrived with a new commitment to making herself and the team better and that has been evident to everyone around her," said O'Brien.

Defender Carolyn Keenan, along with attackers Katie Barnes and Melissa Coggins make up the rest of the Generals' sophomore class.

Keenan made an appearance in five games during her rookie season and registered one ground ball and one caused turnover. Barnes and Coggins return after combining to score three goals and six assists last year.

Almost half of the team will consist of first-years, with 11 newcomers added to the roster.

The mix of rookies includes a plethora of talent with one high school all-american, two honorable mention high school All-Americans, three Academic All-Americans and a slew of conference champions. 

"The first-years used the fall and offseason to work through their normal adjustment period," O'Brien explained. "They are learning how to meet the expectations that not only the coaches have, but what their teammates have for them as well."

A grueling 16-game regular-season schedule, including three teams that reached the NCAA tournament, will prepare the team as it attempts to claim another ODAC Championship this year.

"Every year we design our schedule to play the best of the best," said O'Brien. "We want to challenge ourselves against the caliber teams that will prepare us for a tough ODAC slate and will help us know what to expect when we move into the NCAA tournament."

This season, the Generals will play eight of their 16 games at home, including a four-game stint in May. W&L opens up the 2014 season at home against Christopher Newport on Sunday, February 16th at noon.  

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