Season Preview (WD1): No. 10 Loyola
by J. Jude Hazard | LaxMagazine.com
|Marlee Paton played with Loyola
coach Jen Adams on the Australian senior national team that won the
silver medal at the 2009 FIL World Cup.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com
The defending Big East champion Loyola women's lacrosse team will look a lot different this year. Coming off of its best Big East campaign since joining the conference in 2005, the Greyhounds will look for production from young talent in their quest to repeat as conference champions.
"This year our experience lies in our defense," said Loyola head coach Jen Adams. "We will have to rely a lot more heavily on raw ability over experience in the midfield and offense."
Senior goalkeeper Kerry Stoothoff and senior defenders Kellye Gallagher and Anna Heneberry anchor that experienced defense. Six of Loyola's eight players with 10 or more goals in 2011 have graduated, including Grace Gavin and Abby Rehfuss, who combined for 108 goals and 39 assists last season.
Gavin, the Greyhounds' all-time leading scorer and first-ever Tewaaraton Award finalist, had 71 of the team's 276 goals last year. She's now a member of the U.S. women's national team.
"Everyone has stepped up, and we do not talk of loss of production, but rather the enormous potential of this group," Adams said.
The Greyhounds can expect contributions on the offensive end from Marlee Paton and Joanna Dalton. Paton, a sophomore midfielder who played with Adams on the Australian senior national team that won the silver medal at the 2009 FIL World Cup, was third on the team behind Gavin and Rehfuss with 48 points in 2011.
"We have a solid lineup of freshmen who will see time and help fill any holes left by previous players, but we also have some returners who are more than ready and have been working really hard to be impact players," Adams said. "These players are hungry. That's often the best kind of player you can have out there."
Dalton, a 5-foot-10 junior attacker from Queenstown, Md., appeared in 18 games last year. "She has seen time off the bench the last couple of years but is poised to be one of our key dominant players on the offensive end," Adams said.
Loyola has improved its Big East record in each of the last five seasons. The 17 wins overall in 2011 tied the Greyhounds' 2003 team for most wins in program history.
"The Big East is such a competitive conference and a difficult one to crack into the mix of top programs. Once we were able to get there, the team established a lacrosse maturity that has allowed us to play our brand of lacrosse on a more consistent basis," Adams said. "Last year we were confident that we could play with anyone."
The Greyhounds will need this fresh crop of young, talent players to step into that maturity and confidence if they are to repeat as conference champions.