May 9, 2014

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WD1 Notebook: Tournament Players To Watch 

By Megan Schneider | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

No. 1 for the Syracuse Orange is senior Alyssa Murray, a top five finalist for the Tewaaraton Award for the second year in a row. Murray is the the second player in program history to record 300 points, 200 goals and 100 assists in her career. (Greg Wall) 

The race to the national title begins on Friday with 10 first-round games, while the top six seeds wait for their turn to compete on Sunday. After the first round, 16 teams remain, and after the second round, that number divides in half. Before we know it, it will be down to the Fastest Four, with the winners advancing to the championship game at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson, Md.

But who are the guiding forces behind each team's success? Let's take a look at the key players to watch who will likely top many teams' scouting reports.

Tewaaraton Finalists to Watch

Thursday, the top five men's and women's finalists were announced for the 2014 Tewaaraton Award, who will be invited to the May 29 ceremony in Washington, D.C. This award recognizes the top college lacrosse player in the country, so without further ado, below are the five young women in the running for this award who have been deemed the most talented for the 2014 season.

Maryland

The Terps landed two finalists for the Tewaaraton Award – sophomore Taylor Cummings and junior Megan Douty. These two players have been staples in their starting lineup and were significant factors in Maryland achieving its sixth consecutive ACC title – and its last – as they look onward to the Big Ten in 2015.

Taylor Cummings, Soph., M

Cummings is second for the Terps in points with 74, but her midfield play against the top opponents in the country is what secured her spot as a finalist. She broke the 100-mark in draw controls, while also leading her team in ground balls (33) and caused turnovers (27) as the scrappiest player on the field. She is sound from one end of the field to the other and is one of the reasons Maryland was able to take the top seed going into the NCAA Tournament.

Coach's Corner

"Taylor is a dynamic two-way midfielder who is a critical part of both our offense and defense," said Maryland coach Cathy Reese. "She controls the midfield, starting with the draw. Offensively, she's a huge threat and is really hard to defend one-on-one. Defensively, she consistently marks the other team's best player and is able to create turnovers. She has been a huge part of creating possessions for us and is one of the top players in the country."

Megan Douty, Jr., D

The lone defender to make the top five is Douty, which speaks volumes to her defensive achievements. If Cummings is the quarterback, Douty is the center for the Terps, always snapping the ball back to her offense through her faceguarding efforts. She accounts for 27 ground balls and 16 caused turnovers this season and is always the go-to player in a tight situation when Reese is looking for a defensive stop.

Coach's Corner

"Meg is the leader of our defense and is a tremendous 1v1 shutdown defender," said Reese. "She's really stepped up her communication this year and taken the reigns of our defense. She's able to contain other teams' top players. She consistently comes up with ground balls and caused turnovers, which allow our defense to start our offense."

Syracuse

The Orange also lands two players in the top five finalists – sophomore Kayla Treanor and senior Alyssa Murray. They have been a key attacking duo for Syracuse, as they took the No. 1 ranking for the first time in program history after defeating then-No. 1 North Carolina. In its first year as a member of the ACC, Syracuse has made a name for itself and proved the Orange belong in the powerhouse of women's lacrosse.

Kayla Treanor, Soph., A

Treanor has docked a whopping 102 points (72 goals, 32 assists) as she enters the NCAA Tourney – the most for her Orange squad and the most in Division I. When Syracuse earned that No. 1 ranking with a 12-9 win over the Tar Heels, Treanor scored a career-high seven goals. She is the strongest attacker in women's lacrosse and she has two more years to help bring her team to the top once again.

Coach's Corner

"She has a very unique talent as a player who is truly gifted to go out there and play," said Syracuse coach Gary Gait. "At X behind on offense, she can challenge from either side. She's had some incredible stick work, some great dodges. She's just an incredible offensive threat and a finisher for us. She's also the go-to person when we need a big goal. We'll challenge her to step up and get an opportunity to score and she has embraced that role. She's done a great job – everything you want from an attacker. She delivers."

Alyssa Murray, Sr., A

Murray is the only returnee to the top five after being named a finalist in 2013 as a junior. She trails Treanor with 88 points (51 goals, 37 assists), but has also grabbed 20 ground balls, caused 10 turnovers and controlled 25 draws. She compliments Treanor as a regular feeder, and as a captain, she is the voice of the offense. Without Murray, the Orange offensive unit would not have been as successful as it has this year.

Coach's Corner

"She just has a killer instinct when she shows up every day," said Gait. "Incredible work ethic. Every shift, every opportunity in practice, she's focused on getting better, putting the ball in the net and making the offense score. She just is relentless and never really takes a shift off or a practice off for anything. That has provided some great leadership as far as by example. She also runs the offense verbally, takes charge, makes sure everyone knows what play we're running and that we're executing with what offense we're in. Tremendous leader, she is the quarterback of our offense."

Florida

Florida breaks into the ranks of the Tewaarton honorees with junior Shannon Gilroy leading the way.

Shannon Gilroy, Jr., M

Throughout the regular season, Gilroy has consistently topped the charts in points and goals in Division I. As of May 4, she boasts 80 goals and 18 assists for a total of 98 points. She was an offensive threat that seemingly no one could stop. But her game never stopped there. Gilroy was one of the key strengths for Florida's midfield, dominating on draw controls with 75, causing 23 turnovers and picking up 21 ground balls.

Coach's Corner

"Shannon is just somebody who you want the ball in her stick and you want in her stick as much as possible for one, either to be driving to goal or for two, to be creating for other people," said Florida coach Amanda O'Leary. "Shannon's been a staple of our team since she got here. She plays a huge rule in our offense. She plays a huge role in our defense. She normally takes the draw. There's not a part of our game that Shannon isn't a part of. For us, the key is that she remains a big part of that."

Top Returnees to Watch

It would be remiss not to mention the other Tewaaraton nominees in Division I (indicated by *) who were not named top five finalists because they are still certainly key players to watch during the NCAA Tournament. Joining the nominees are a few other players from both big and small schools who returned from last year and have made a big impact on their respective teams. 

Junior Mikaela Rix has been an offensive threat for many opponents as she has scored the most goals for the Eagles with 54. (John Strohsacker)

Boston College

Mikaela Rix, Jr., M*

The Eagles put themselves on the map this season with the help of Rix in the center circle. Her decision to start taking the draw was a game changer for coach Acacia Walker. She has been a dynamic midfielder, controlling 68 draws, grabbing 33 ground balls and causing 13 turnovers. But she also has been a threat offensively with the most goals for Boston College (54).

Coach's Corner

"Mikaela, she brings so much power to our midfield," said Walker. "Her dominance really allows us to get possession of the draws and her speed allows us to really push the transition. She's an incredibly valuable player to us because of her athleticism and her commitment to not only her goals, but the team's goals. Mikaela has an intensity about her that really makes her a special player."

Covie Stanwick, Jr., A*

Rix and Stanwick truly compliment each other. Stanwick leads the Eagles offense with 76 points (42 goals and 34 assists) and her knowledge of the sport has allowed Boston College to be a force in the ACC this year. Walker appreciates her ability to make her teammates better on a daily basis.

Coach's Corner

"Covie is our offensive quarterback," said Walker. "Her lacrosse IQ allows her to run the attack solidly against any defense that she sees. She is absolutely the vocal leader, a physical leader. She runs our offense at a really high level. What are my highlights of Covie? There are so many, my gosh. She is just so smart. She makes so many incredibly smart decisions. For Covie, it's just an ongoing highlight."

Bryant

Lindsay Gilfeather, Sr., D

It's always easy to point out the leading scorer, but Gilfeather has been a consistent defender for Bryant this season, including during the NEC championship game when the Bulldogs clinched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. She has started all games and has picked up 18 ground balls.

Coach's Corner

"Our defense stood strong all weekend, particularly the play of Lindsay Gilfeather," said Bryant coach Jill Depetris-Batcheller following the title game. "Lindsay has been a matchup defender for us all season, and this weekend, she held her matchups to zero goals all tournament, which is just amazing."

Canisius

Maria Kotas, Sr., M

With 79 points from 54 goals and 25 assists, Kotas leads her squad on offense. Though she is only 5'3", her stature is much taller on the playing field, controlling 76 draws. She has also picked up 64 ground balls and caused 51 turnovers as an impact player in the midfield.

Coach's Corner

"Maria Kotas was awesome today," said Canisius coach Scott Teeter, after she set a new program record of 14 points in a single game against Quinnipiac, tying for fourth in Division I history as the most points docked by anyone since 2007. "She stepped up when we needed it most and her performance really ignited our other top players as well."

Denver

Hannah Hook, Redshirt Jr., G*

With the battle between Denver and Stanford for the top spot in the MPSF, Denver's goalie Hannah Hook has been the standout player who has made the difference in her team's season, leading them to their first MPSF championship title. Hook was MVP of the conference tournament with her second best save percentage in the country standing at 52.8 percent.

Coach's Corner

"Hannah is a great leader," said Denver coach Liza Kelly on the DU Weekly Check-In on April 4, who then went on to call her a "stud" after winning the MPSF title. "She's fun to coach. She's fun for the girls to play in front of. She's really emotional and keeps them pumped during the game. She's solid between the pipes, making some really key saves. She's been stellar for us."

Jill Remenapp, Jr., A

Remenapp is currently the leader in assists nationwide for Division I women's lacrosse. She boasts 48 total and 2.53 per game, edging Taylor D'Amore of Johns Hopkins. She has the second most points for the Pioneers with 72 from an additional 25 goals. Remenapp is also able to contribute throughout the rest of the field, having docked 23 ground balls, 12 draw controls and 10 caused turnovers.

Coach's Corner

"What's so cool about that is she's only a junior," said Kelly on the same DU Weekly Check-In, recognizing Remenapp's achievement of becoming the school's and conference's leader in assists with 133 that week. "I'm excited to see her continue that this year and next year. Jill's a pitbull out there. She's getting faceguarded, double teamed, gets knocked around more times than anyone I've ever seen and she gets up swinging."

Duke

Kerrin Maurer, Jr., A*

Maurer is the offensive leader for the Blue Devils with the most points on the team (74) from a combined 48 goals and 26 assists. She has nearly twice as many as the second-best goal scorer for Duke. In the ACC, the most competitive conference in women's lacrosse this season, Maurer boasts top marks.

Coach's Corner

'In a conference of great offensive players, Kerrin still stands out amongst the best in the ACC," said Duke coach Kerstin Kimel. "She ranks first in goals, assists and points on our team and ranks second in goals in the ACC, fifth in assists and second in overall points in arguably the most prolific scoring conference in the country. Faced with the opponent's top defender each game, Kerrin finds different ways to consistently produce and make clutch plays whether it is an assist, a big draw control or a game-winning goal."

Taylor Virden, Sr., D*

Defensively, the Blue Devils have been led by two-time captain Virden with the most caused turnovers (22). She also has been a vital player obtaining possession with 56 draw controls and 30 ground balls. Despite a broken foot, she has returned with full energy and might this year.

Coach's Corner

"Taylor has been the heart and soul of our team the last two seasons," said Kimel. "Despite the adversity [of a broken foot], Taylor has been our most consistent leader and player this season. She is a force on the draw, she makes defensive plays all over the field against the best competition and jumpstarts our offense with her ability to create turnovers and win ground balls."

High Point

Jasmine Jordan, Jr., M

Jordan has only tallied 18 points on the season from 13 goals and 5 assists, but she is a pivotal force on the rest of the field, which certainly deserves a nod. She has 45 ground balls, 30 caused turnovers and 27 draw controls. Jordan is the active career leader in ground balls with 191 and was a key factor in her team's Big South title this year.

Coach's Corner

"She still stands out," High Point coach Lyndsey Boswell said to the High Point Enterprise going into the Big South tournament. "If you are not at the games, you can't tell the impact she has. You can't tell it by the stat sheet. She disrupts so many possessions of the other team. She is a game changer for us."

Jacksonville

Morgan Derner, Jr., A

Derner is the offensive leader with the most goals (42) for Jacksonville leading her squad to winning the Atlantic Sun championship title as the conference's Player of the Year. She also has 15 assists for 57 points, surpassing 200 points for her career, as well as 20 ground balls and 12 caused turnovers this season.

Coach's Corner

"She has speed and athleticism,'' Jacksonville coach Mindy McCord said back in 2012 as Derner was developing into the player she is today. "She's very strong on the ride because of her speed and that creates a lot of fast break opportunities we can utilize.''

Johns Hopkins

Taylor D'Amore is so successful thanks to her co-captain Sammy Cermack, says Hopkins coach Janine Tucker. (John Strohsacker)

Taylor D'Amore, Sr., A*

Hopkins returns to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007 thanks to D'Amore who has led the way for its historical 10-game win streak to start the season. She has racked up 99 points (52 goals, 47 assists) entering the team's first-round game against Georgetown and will likely break the 100-mark. She currently ranks first in Division I for points per game (5.21), second behind Syracuse's Treanor in total points.

Coach's Corner

"Our pinnacle type of player is someone who is a complete player where you are just fundamentally sound from one end of the field to the other and you have a tremendous confidence from one end of the field to the other and that's what Taylor brings to the team," said Hopkins coach Janine Tucker. "Completely and utterly fearless. Completely and utterly willing to take any an all pressure off of the team and put it on her shoulders. Exceptionally unselfish. Much happier to set her teammates up but will literally run through a brick wall if her team needs a goal in a moment."

Sammy Cermack, Sr., M

With D'Amore such a recognizable force for the Blue Jays, one of the most overlooked players is Sammy Cermack. Without Cermack, D'Amore wouldn't have been as successful as she has this year. They are both captains, and Cermack compliments D'Amore to a tee. She has the second most points (57) and is a usual attacking partner with D'Amore. Cermack also has the most ground balls with 42.

Coach's Corner

"She is really the force behind Taylor and everything that Taylor has been able to accomplish because she compliments her so well," said Tucker. "[Sammy's] a little spitfire. She's 5-foot-nothing and plays 6-feet-tall. When she's not on the field, we can really feel it, so I pretty much never take her off the field. Thank god that kid can run for days."

Louisville

Nikki Boltja, Sr., A*

Boltja tops the charts nationally in Division I as No. 4 in points and tied for No. 3 in goals. She boasts 91 points, the most for the Cardinals, from 67 goals and 24 assists. She is a strong offensive player for Louisville who is humble, never liking to take the credit for a goal, a win, or the team's overall success this season.

Coach's Corner

"She's made herself an All-American," said Louisville coach Kellie Young. "She's the kid that everyone talks about – if you work hard and put your time in, your potential is unlimited. She has had that in her since she first got here. She leads by example. She's not somebody who wants the attention. She doesn't want to be a captain. She's a great teammate. She's goofy and light-hearted off the field; on the field, she's serious and wants to put the scout into action. Players follow her because they see how passionate she is and how committed she is to doing the work and that's gotten other people out on the field with her, and that's why we are where we are."

Kaylin Morissette, Soph., M*

Morissette has been crucial for her team in gaining and maintaining possession. Tasked with taking the draw, she has controlled an impressive 158. She is second best in Division I with 8.78 draw controls per game. To complete her playmaking abilities, she has docked 53 points (42 goals, 11 assists), grabbed 30 ground balls and caused 11 turnovers.

Coach's Corner

"Kay plays her best when she's ticked off and fired up," said Young. "Whether it's because she wants to execute on the draw because maybe she had a bad game before, whether she shot three times and I got on her – when she's focused on what she needs to do, she's unbeatable. She's incredibly coachable and incredibly passionate. When you think about being an athlete, that's Kay. We say in the best possible way that she's a beast out there."

Faye Brust, Jr., A

The Cardinals wouldn't have won their first Big East title or earned their first berth to the NCAA Tournament if it weren't for Brust. In the title game against Georgetown, Brust – the Big East Tournament's Most Outstanding Player – dominated with a career-best six goals, all coming in the first half.

Coach's Corner

"Three things help her score: one is her speed; her quickness in 10 yards is pretty phenomenal, and then her shot placement," said Young. "The shot placement has come with work she's done on her own when nobody is watching. The other piece is she has this incredible light in her. She keeps everything relaxed. It really allows her to not get rattled and she can get herself re-centered and turn the corner."

Loyola

Marlee Paton, Sr., M*

With her international experience to boot, senior Marlee Paton has led her team to a Patriot League title in its first year as a member of the conference. She boasts 75 points from 49 goals and 26 assists, 37 ground balls, 44 draw controls and 40 caused turnovers. Statistically, she is a solid player on offense, in transition and on defense.

Coach's Corner

"Marlee's invaluable," said Loyola coach Jen Adams. "What she brings to this team is incredible. She's so consistent for us and such a great leader. She's one of those players that we can count on and has been able to do that in her four years at Loyola. To have her as a senior, it's just reassuring, I think for the rest of the team too. She steps up in these big games. That's when Marlee plays her best lacrosse."

Maryland

Brooke Griffin, Jr., A*

Griffin has been fundamental in the Terps' No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament with the most goals on the squad (54), converting on approximately 90 percent of her shots on goal. Add 19 assists and she has tallied a total of 73 points. She is the voice of the offense, communicating the plays to her teammates.

Coach's Corner

"Brooke has become a leader for us on offense," said Reese. "She sets the tone for our attack and is able to both distribute and score goals. She's the quarterback of our offense and knows when to step up the tempo and when to slow it down. She continues to improve every game, which I think was evident with her play at the ACC Championship.

Kelly McPartland, Jr., A*

With the most points (81) from 51 goals and 30 assists, McPartland is a true offensive threat for Maryland. She has converted on 82.2 percent of her shots on goal, as well as more than 50 percent of her free position shots.

Coach's Corner

"Kelly has become a very dangerous threat on the offensive end for us this year," said Reese. "She's extremely fast and is able to use her speed in our transition to create scoring opportunities. She's become a more confident player this year and consistently challenges hard to the cage. When she does, she's very difficult to stop."

Massachusetts

Katie Ferris, Sr., A

In the Minutewomen's first-round game against Loyola (Md.), Ferris will be the driving force that could potentially push them ahead of the Patriot League champion. She has 85 points (44 goals, 41 assists), as well as 23 ground balls and 14 caused turnovers. Ferris was recently named the Brine National Player of the Week after she led her squad to the program's sixth consecutive Atlantic 10 title. 

Coach's Corner

"She went through a whole lifestyle change becoming so much healthier and conscious of improving her strength and lifting," said Massachusetts coach Angela McMahon to the UMass Gazette on Ferris' ability to become a star player while battling lyme disease, which most people never even knew. "I'm not sure she would have had the appreciation for those things if she had not gone through this experience. She could get away with not being fit and still score 40 or 50 goals in a season because she's that skilled and talented. When she does focus on all those X-factors that can help make her a better player, that's really elevated her game to the next level."

North Carolina

Abbey Friend, Sr., A*

As a three-time All-ACC Team selection, Friend is the leader in points for the Tar Heels with 73 (58 goals, 15 assists). Despite having an up-and-down season, she has been the reason they have been able to stay on the map. As the reigning NCAA champions, the North Carolina squad will be looking to her for leadership as a senior captain. Going into the ACC Tournament, she was the second-best goal scorer behind Syracuse's Treanor.

Coach's Corner

"She's been a four-year starter for us on the offensive end," said North Carolina coach Jenny Levy. "Specifically this year, she's had to lead our team in every sense offensively because of our personnel having a lot of inexperienced players out there. She cares about the game. She's passionate about her teammates and is very hardworking in the sense that she wants to get better. Even though she's a senior, she's continued to work to better herself to the best that she can be."

Sloane Serpe, Sr., D*

The Tar Heels can thank Serpe for many of the key defensive stops they have been able to make in crunch time. She has grabbed the most ground balls with 30 and the caused the second most turnovers with 16. As a two-year captain, Serpe is also the type of player that can step up when needed and is able to perform in the midfield having controlled 15 draws.

Coach's Corner

"Sloane is just a great competitor," said Levy. "She's works incredibly hard and has unbelievable intensity this season. Because of the injuries that we've had, we needed Sloane to do some more in the midfield and she scored five goals and had an assist. She's been asked to play bigger roles not just on the defensive end but all over and has just done a great job. She matched up against Kayla Treanor in the ACCs against Syracuse and that was an unbelievable matchup to watch – just two really high-end players going after it – and Treanor was not able to beat Sloane or get a goal off of her."

With her senior leadership, Alyssa Leonard commands the Northwestern offense. (Cecil Copeland)

Northwestern

Alyssa Leonard, Sr., A*

Leonard leads the Wildcats with 45 points (35 goals and 10 assists) and a striking 144 draw controls. Although she had only played two years of lacrosse when she first joined the Northwestern squad, she has developed into a strong player.

Coach's Corner

"Her competitiveness is really what drives her," said Northwestern coach Kelly Amonte Hiller. "She takes it personally when our team isn't succeeding, both on the draw controls and on offense, and in practice as well as in games. She takes it on herself to change that while also bringing her teammates along with her, and that's a quality that all the best players typically have. Alyssa's always had quick hands and tons of athleticism but her competitiveness and her fire to be the best have made her the player she is today."

Bridget Bianco, Jr., G*

In goal for the Wildcats, Bianco has started every game, docking 122 saves going into the NCAA Tournament. With their competitive schedule, she has faced upwards of 300 shots and has still remained strong for her defense.

Coach's Corner

"Bridget has been a rock for us the last two years and someone we can count on to be the quarterback of our defense," said Amonte Hiller. "She'd probably tell you she's at her best when she's calm and not over-hyped during a game. When she's locked in and able to trust her preparation, she is capable of coming up with some game-changing saves, which really swings the momentum of a game."

Notre Dame

Margaret Smith, Sr., M*

With a young team, Smith has taken the lead despite her battle with injury. She has been a solid asset on defense as evident by this season's statistics. She has caused the most turnovers with 36 and has also picked up the most ground balls with 57. In the center circle, Smith has controlled 40 draws as well.

Coach's Corner

"Margaret was instrumental to our team's growth and success this season," said Notre Dame coach Christine Halfpenny. "She carried the team with her ability to help win possession off the draw, mark top attackers and middies in the country, while also wreaking havoc all over the field with her innate ability to cause turnovers. She battles relentlessly with her athletic ability, IQ and love for the game. Her numbers make you do a double-take, especially knowing ND has played one of the toughest schedules in the country."

Ohio State

Jackie Cifarelli, Jr., A*

In Division I women's lacrosse, Cifarelli has been the consistent leader in assists with 48 this season. She has also scored 17 goals to lead her team in points with 63. The Buckeyes have her to thank for their success this season.

Coach's Corner

"Jackie's been a three-year starter for us," said Ohio State coach Alexis Venechanos. "She's been very consistent all three years, especially this season as well. She's definitely our quarterback and she sees the field extremely well. She usually gets marked up by an aggressive person on ball. She continues to contribute to our attack, always looking to keep her head up. She's very humble, too, and just loves the team's success rather than her own success."

Penn

Lucy Ferguson, Jr., G*

For the Quakers, Ferguson has been their backbone, facing 283 shots yet still remaining strong for her defense. She has a 46.5 save percentage going into the NCAA Tournament.

Coach's Corner 

"Lucy has been the anchor of the defense for the last two years coming up with tremendous saves," said Penn coach Karin Corbett. "She's grown for us as a keeper with training and what she's been able to do outside the net with caused turnovers. She is just a player that makes the saves she should make but also some amazing saves that are jaw-dropping. She's quiet and very focused in the net and is very confidant in herself, but also one of the most competitive players on the field with the high standard she holds herself to."

Meg Markham, Jr., D*

As primarily a defender, Markham has been the leader not only on defense but also in the midfield. She has grabbed 41 ground balls, caused 38 turnovers and controlled 39 draws – the most in all three categories. She and Ferguson were key factors in upsetting the No. 1 seed Princeton in the Ivy Tournament to take title once again.

Coach's Corner

"She's very scrappy," said Corbett. "She's great at ground balls. She's just one of those kids that if the ball is near her, she's picking it up. She protects it really well. We have just not been doing well on the draw and so we have to rely on creating more possessions for ourselves and our defense has been able to do that, obviously starting with Meg with the amount of caused turnovers that she's had. She just has that knack for wanting the ball and plays with her stick upright, which you don't see a lot today, but it puts her in a great position to check and she has a great eye for that."

Penn State

Madison Cyr, Soph., M

Madison Cyr has topped the charts this year for the Nittany Lions as the leading goal scorer with 39. She also has seven assists to give her 46 points going into the NCAA Tournament. She has made her presence known all over the field with 31 draw controls, 19 caused turnovers and 19 ground balls.  

Coach's Corner

"It's been interesting to see who steps up every year," said Penn State coach Missy Doherty. "One of our most impactful players is actually a sophomore, Madison Cyr, who's really stepped in to a bunch of different positions whether it's a great midfield defender or our top scorer."

Princeton

Erin McMunn, Jr., A

McMunn is the player to keep an eye on for Princeton, having tallied the most points (52) for the Tigers from 40 goals and 12 assists. She has also picked up 14 ground balls, 17 draw controls and five caused turnovers.

Coach's Corner

"I don't think there is a bigger turnaround in six days than Erin McMunn showed on the field," said Princeton coach Chris Sailer after the victory over Cornell in the semifinals of the Ivy League tournament. "Today, I think she learned how to play against a tight mark. She saw what is going to happen when she works hard and when she puts herself in a position to make a difference. She worked hard, she saw the opportunities, she got separation but then her teammates were ready to hit her and they didn't hesitate to make the pass."

Stanford

Hannah Farr, Jr., M

Farr was named the MPSF Player of the Year after a resounding season for the Cardinal. She leads her team in draw controls with 40, while also recording 31 goals, 11 assists, 32 ground balls and 13 caused turnovers.

Coach's Corner

"Hannah is our biggest competitor and I love that element she brings to our team," Stanford coach Amy Bokker said to the San Mateo Daily Journal on Farr, who also plays soccer for the Cardinal. "She competes in every moment. At practice it brings a whole different dynamic when she joins us in the spring. And that's what she brings on the field each game. She's a winner."

Frankie Caridi boasts the best save percentage and goals against average in Division I women's lacrosse. (Greg Shemitz)

Stony Brook

Frankie Caridi, Sr., G*

All eyes will be on Caridi during the NCAA Tournament as Division I's best goalie with a 57.4 save percentage and 4.58 goals against average (GAA). No other goalie boasts a GAA below five. With the Seawolves' strength of defense backed by Caridi in goal, they will be a force to be reckoned with as they face Towson in the first round of matchups.

Coach's Corner

"She's the QB of our defense and one of the best stoppers I've ever been around," said Stony Brook coach Joe Spallina. "She's a complete goalie. Her outlet passes are on point, one of the strongest parts of her game. She has no deficiencies in her game. She's a game changer, the epitome of an All-American and a true superstar. The numbers speak for themselves. When you look at the numbers, they're a direct reflection of her abilities and her talent."

Towson

Breanna Hamm, Soph., M

Although the stat sheet might not show it, Hamm is one of the most significant playermakers, sliding under the radar. She has only 10 goals for the season, but came up with a crucial game-tying goal to lead the way to the CAA tournament title. Hamm has the second most draw controls with 38, as well as 24 ground balls.

Coach's Corner

"[Hamm] is always doing so much for us on the field," Towson coach Sonia LaMonica said to the Towerlight after winning the conference championship. "She's really an unsung hero. Today, she had four goals so it gets a little more noticed. She has been consistent, she does so much for us and she had a great game."

Virginia

Courtney Swan, Jr., A*

Swan commands Virginia's offense, leading in points with 73 (49 goals and 24 assists). She is a well-rounded player, controlling 86 draws, the most for her team, as well as picking up 22 ground balls and causing 11 turnovers.

Coach's Corner

"Courtney is a quick, fit and dynamic attacker," said Virginia coach Julie Myers. "She loves to go 1v1, but has the ability and vision to drive and assist as well. Her playmaking mindset with her determination to add to the scoreboard makes her our go-to attacker in every game. The ball always goes through Courtney, not because the coaches say it has to, but because she puts herself in key spots and her teammates are constantly looking to her."

Top Newcomers to Watch

"Defense wins games" is an old sports saying that many coaches rely on. One can argue that offense wins games because the attackers put the points on the scoreboard, but a defense has the ability to win championships.

A team cannot succeed without a tough defense, and unquestionably in lacrosse, the goalie is the leader of that defense. Without her strength in abilities between the pipes, the opponent's offense would be able to run up the score. But this year, look no further than the crease because some young goalies have made a surprising impact this year.

Below are three goalies to keep an eye on that may just make some game-changer saves during the tournament.

Georgetown

Maddy Fisher, Fr., G

As a freshman, Fisher has earned the starting position for the Hoyas as they turned around their season, winning their final six games before entering the Big East tournament. Although she has a 38.5 save percentage, it is the best of Georgetown's three goalies and she is able to make some big saves, even if it means sprinting back in the cage after a failed clear to make up for the turnover.

Coach's Corner

"She's been steady for us all year long and at the end of the game, she came up with two or three big saves one-on-one," said Georgetown coach Ricky Fried following the loss to Louisville in the Big East championship game. "Obviously holding Louisville to nine goals, which is a pretty potent offense, I think the whole [defensive] unit deserves a lot of credit, but she's done a great job throughout the season. She's really a comforting force for the defense as a whole."

Johns Hopkins

Caroline Federico, Fr., G

Federico has been an asset for the Blue Jays toward the end of the season, coming up with saves and interceptions that most coaches would not have expected. Facing 197 shots, she has been able to save about 45 percent of them, which today, is not bad for a goalie, especially a freshman goalie.

Coach's Corner

"In the Georgetown game, Caroline really turned our heads in a high-pressure situation and just played out of her mind helping us to get that win," said Tucker. "Fed just edged KC [Emerson] out toward the end of the season and secured herself as our starter. She's a lefty. Talk about another spitfire. She came flying out of the cage in our Ohio State game and I was like, 'What's going on?' She intercepted the ball almost at the restraining line, which basically in my opinion was one of the turning points that saved the game for us. I know she's young, but she's playing like an upperclassman right now."

Maryland

Emily Kift, Fr., G

Although redshirt junior Abbey Clipp has started 19-of-20 games while Kift has only started one, coach Reese is more than happy to turn to Kift in a moment's notice. In the Terps' one-goal game against Boston College, it came down to the wire and Kift was there to make the big saves after the Eagles scored five goals in a row on Clipp. Currently, Kift has a 47.5 save percentage.

Coach's Corner

"That was awesome," said Reese on Kift's performance after their game against Boston College. "Emily is really aggressive and quick. She moves faster and we just needed to change it up a little bit. They scored those five straight goals to start the second half and we weren't making many saves at that point, so I put Emily in. She's a great goalie so I gave her a shot and she made some huge saves, which in turn allowed us to get the ball back."


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