February 19, 2010

Is This The Year Salisbury's Women Win It All?

from press release

SALISBURY, Md. -- The weather might have affected any other lacrosse team, but it certainly didn't stop the Salisbury University women's lacrosse squad from putting in the time to prepare to win the program's first NCAA Division III national title. Last year, Salisbury advanced to the championship game for the third time in program history, but suffered a heartbreaking 11-10 overtime loss to Franklin & Marshall College.

Head coach Jim Nestor sees the loss as something to keep in mind throughout this season. "It's our underlying motivation to win the title," said Nestor, who is entering his ninth season as the women's lacrosse head coach at Salisbury, his Alma Mater. "It was in our grasp, and it is still the goal that we're trying to accomplish."

ATTACK

New freshman talent may be on the roster, but Salisbury will be relying on its top three veteran attackers to propel the Sea Gulls back to the Final Four. Senior Kim Cudmore (Bel Air, Md.) as well as juniors Logan Bilderback (Arnold, Md.) and Meagan Osipowich (Hauppauge, N.Y.) will be names to look out for, not only for their talent on the field, but their guidance off of the field. "Our upperclassmen, especially our seniors, will definitely be looked to for leadership," said Nestor.

The trio of attackers contributed to Salisbury's tremendous offensive success last year, scoring a combined 90 goals. Of those three, Bilderback and Osipowich led in scoring, each notching 32 goals on the season. Cudmore played only half the season due to injury, but she certainly left her mark on the statistics; her 26 goals and 29 assists helped the maroon and gold become recognized as one of the top Division III offensive teams in the nation.

MIDFIELD

The midfield may boast the highest number of players on the roster, but the quantity isn't necessarily as important as the quality. "We have a lot of depth in the midfield this year," said Nestor. "Part of that new depth includes incoming freshmen, and they're really going to help us improve as a team. A few of them are definitely going to see some playing time."

Names to watch for include newcomer Roxanne Raab (Fallston, Md.) as well as veteran Jess Chmielewski (Woodbine, Md.), who will be playing in her final season in maroon and gold. Chmielewski's impact will be felt this year more than last year, as an injury limited her to play only six games in 2009. In those six games, though, the midfielder registered 26 points on 15 goals and 11 assists. Another star midfielder, Beth Rhodey (Fallston, Md.), was the second-leading scorer on the team as 54 of her shots found the back of the opposing goalie's net. 

GOALIE

In between the pipes, the Sea Gulls will be replacing goalie Sonja Stuart (Rockville, Md.), who had an outstanding senior season in 2009. Stuart played in 21 games, starting all of them, for a total of over 1,163 minutes; she boasted a 7.94 goals against average (GAA) and notched 141 saves. Three of the team's goalies this year, freshmen Keli Berkman (Salisbury, Md.), Caity Coleman (South Huntington, N.Y.) and Ali Meeks (Pasadena, Md.), are expected to bring new energy and talent into the cage. In addition to the freshman trio, junior Julie Ann Caulfield (Drexel Hill, Pa.) will use the experience of her eight games played last season to give Salisbury a defensive edge.

DEFENSE

Salisbury's rock-solid defense will welcome the addition of two Division I transfers; newcomers Annie Politsch (Baltimore, Md.) and local talent Kristen Chandler (Salisbury, Md.) will supplement the Sea Gulls' nationally-ranked defense. "They are really going to help us defensively," said Nestor. Last year, Salisbury averaged 11.09 caused turnovers per game, good for 21st in the country, and also boasted a No.6 ranked team goals against average (7.77).

In addition to the new faces on the defensive squad, the return of senior defenders Jess Glazer (Ellicott City, Md.) and Sarah McKinley (Timonium, Md.) will certainly take some pressure off of the new face in between the pipes. 

SCHEDULE

"We have a good schedule this year," said Nestor. "I'm glad we got Union College on the schedule. That, along with playing Washington & Lee College early on, will help us become stronger as a team." The Sea Gulls will also have their chance at redemption on March 20, when they square off against reigning NCAA national champions Franklin & Marshall.

In terms of conference play, Salisbury will face-off against seven different Capital Athletic Conference opponents this year. Last season, the Gulls went a perfect 7-0 against CAC opponents, capturing their seventh consecutive (ninth overall) CAC championship.

SUMMARY

The Sea Gulls will definitely be a team to look out for in the NCAA tournament. With a competitive schedule, along with talented and experienced group of veterans, plus a host of young freshman talent, Salisbury's solid roster will allow for a variety of players for Nestor and his coaching staff to utilize. The maroon and gold have set their sights on the prize once again, but they know it won't be without a fight. "Our overall goal is to improve each game," said Nestor. "We want to get back to the Final Four. We want to win."


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