#LMranks: No. 11 Dartmouth Big Green (Women)
|Goalie Kristen Giovanniello is a
big returning strength for the Big Green.
© John Risley
Lacrosse Magazine is counting down its preseason rankings throughout the month of January exclusively on LaxMagazine.com.
Today continues a look at our NCAA Division I Top 20 rankings. For more, visit LaxMagazine.com/LMranks. Follow @LacrosseMag on Twitter and Tweet using the hashtag #LMranks. The countdown will resume Monday with profiles of the 10th-ranked teams in NCAA Division I men and women.
Draw Control: 3
* Out of 5
G Kristen Giovanniello (Jr.)
The 2011 Ivy League Rookie of the Year closed her second season with an MVP performance of 16 saves in the Big Green's Ivy tournament championship run. Giovanniello led the country in save percentage for much of last year. Surrounded by less experience this year, she will have the chance to cement her place as an All-American.
M Courtney Bennett (Sr.)
Bennett still will play midfield, but she also will spend plenty of time boosting the low defense. Moving Bennett back should fortify an area of concern. "I wouldn't want to play against Courtney Bennett," coach Amy Patton said. "She's a very tough defender."
The leading returning scorer from a year ago, senior attack Hana Bowers, will move behind the net. "Her off-ball movement has been good," Patton said. "It's a quick catch and shoot from there, and shooting is her strength. She's very smart at how to get open, very savvy. Putting her that close plays into her strengths."
The senior class. Patton expects almost all seven of them to contribute on the field, and their experience is a key. "I think seasons go how your seniors go," she said. "You can't replace leadership. We've had great classes come through the Dartmouth program and this current senior class, I've been so impressed with their energy, drive and enthusiasm. They're buzz words, but they're living it."
#LMranks WD1 Preseason Countdown
No. 20 Princeton
Record: 12-5 (5-2 Ivy)
In a Nutshell: Dartmouth broke from the gate quickly with five straight wins, including a double-overtime win over Duke behind goals from eight different players, but limped into the postseason with back-to-back losses to Princeton and Harvard. The Big Green regrouped to win the Ivy League tournament for the first time in program history before Syracuse handled them easily for the second time that season in the NCAA tournament first round. "You have to go through tough teams to get to a national championship," Patton said. "More than anything, we learned a lot from last year. I've already seen that this year."
High Point: A 6-4 comeback win at Penn in the championship game of the Ivy League tournament, Dartmouth's first in three tries at the title. The Big Green dominated possession, but Penn held a 3-0 lead until Dartmouth scored in the final two minutes of the first half. It was the first of six unanswered goals as the Big Green defense was unrelenting in holding Penn to a season-low.
Low Point: Three days after a double-overtime upset of No. 3 Duke, Dartmouth is trounced, 20-4, at No. 5 Florida. The Big Green turned the ball over 10 times as Florida built a 17-4 halftime lead. "We should have stopped after the first 10 minutes and said we're done," Patton said. "The game was over at halftime. I don't think that game was useful for either team."
Best Case: A more balanced attack brings Dartmouth plenty of punch at the offensive end while the defense finds its chemistry in front of Giovanniello. Spearheaded by the do-everything trio of Bennett, Bowers and Kelsey Johnson, the Big Green win their second Ivy League title in three years and repeat as Ivy tournament champions. With a more favorable draw, they earn their first NCAA tournament win since 2006.
Worst Case: In each of the six times Dartmouth has had an Ivy Player of the Year graduate, only once have the Big Green won more games the next season, and only twice have they been able to win the Ivy title. When Dartmouth's new guns can't handle the pressure, the title hopes come up short again. "I'm definitely not stressed or anxious about it at all," Patton said. "When I was younger, I was stressed about who was going to fill those roles. We will find a way."
Coach Amy Patton's comments on...
M Lindsey Allard (Jr.)
"I just think her confidence is different. She's a real threat to goal. She's not only scoring, but assisting. Her whole game looks more complete right now."
M Frances Bird (So.)
"Defensively, she hasn't seen much time, but I've been impressed with Franny. She has improved a lot. She played in most of our games last year. I think you just notice her a lot more right now."
Rival Coaches Say
"Sarah Plumb was a great player, an All-America and Ivy League Player of the Year. She was great on the draw and tough to stop. Everything went through her. They'll have to really prepare some other kids to step up. They're going to be a very different team because they relied on her a lot and [Kirsten] Goldberg. The two of them were their offense."