PHILADELPHIA – Under the direction of fourth-year head coach Alex Kahoe, the Saint Joseph’s women’s lacrosse team will open the 2018 season on the road at Georgetown this Saturday, February 10. The Hawks will host Central Connecticut in their home opener next Saturday, February 17, the first of eight home games to be played on Sweeney Field this spring.
Saint Joseph’s returns 24 Hawks from a squad that is coming off of a program-record, 11-win season, which was capped by a run at the 2017 Atlantic 10 Championship Tournament, and has added 12 true freshmen and a sophomore transfer to the roster in preparation of the 2018 spring season.
“We are excited for our 2018 season,” said Kahoe. “The leadership from our captains and building off of a season with the most wins in program history will help us as we prepare for our first game at Georgetown.”
The Hawks will embark on their 20th year in the Atlantic 10 Conference this spring, opening league action at home against nine-time defending A-10 champion Massachusetts on Thursday, March 29. SJU will host five of nine conference games.
After finishing the 2017 regular season tied for second in the A-10, the Hawks have been predicted to finish tied for third, with George Mason, in the conference in this year’s A-10 preseason poll, the league office announced on February 1. SJU returns three All-Conference selections from last season in First Team defender Kelbon, Second-Team midfielder Lane, and All-Rookie midfielder Julia Pash. The 2018 A-10 Championship will run from May 3-6 at the University of Richmond’s Robins Stadium in Richmond, Va.
Live streaming ($) of all nine regular-season home games will be available via a subscription to the Atlantic 10 Network. To sign up, please click here. Live stats will also be provided for all home games, at SJUHawks.com.
Already one of the most potent offensive threats in program history, Rebecca Lane enters her junior campaign with 71 goals and 53 assists to her name – through just 32 career games played – and will captain the Hawks’ offensive unit this spring. On average, Lane hit the back of the net twice and dished out an assist in every appearance over her first two seasons on Hawk Hill and has turned in back-to-back 30-goal, 20-assist seasons, including 31 helpers last year. She scored in 12 of her 17 games last year and recorded a point in 16 of them.
“Bec will continue to step up offensively for us, especially after coming off of playing in the World Cup this summer,” said Kahoe.
Lane has also excelled internationally, most recently registering 17 points (9g, 8a) to help lead Team Australia to a fourth-place team finish at the 2017 FIL Women’s World Cup over the summer.
Junior Francesca Donato enjoyed a breakthrough sophomore campaign in which she went for 16 goals and 11 assists last spring and earned a starting spot in the Hawks’ A-10 semifinal match-up against Richmond. Donato exploded for a career-high six points on a career-high four goals and two helpers against La Salle and will join Lane up top.
Joining Lane in owning a wealth of international experience is freshman Stephanie Kelly, out of Melbourne, Australia and the Mount St Joseph’s Girls’ College. Kelly served as the 2017 U-23 Australian Women’s ASPAC captain in Fukuoka, Japan, and Jeju Island, South Korea and led her squad to a second-place team finish with 26 points on 18 goals and eight assists. She was a three-year member of the U-18 Victoria State Team and two-time member of the U-18 Australian Lacrosse Association All-Star Team and played for the same club program as Lane, Footscray Lacrosse Club.
With 48 career games under her belt, Aly Gormley returns for her final season on Hawk Hill with 52 career goals to her name and is coming in off of a junior campaign in which she hit the back of the net 25 times. Gormley was the Hawks’ top scorer in SJU’s A-10 semifinal match-up against Richmond last spring, where the then-junior put away a career-high five goals.
Junior Sinead Brierley has the experience of 23 career games and was a scoring threat multiple times in A-10 play last year.
“We will look for Bec’s leadership and experience along with returners in Fran, Aly and Sinead to continue to propel our offensive unit,” added Kahoe. “We are also excited for what Steph has brought to our attacking line this offseason.”
A pair of freshmen have impressed in the offseason and will be expected to bolster SJU’s attacking unit. Two-time U.S. Lacrosse High School All-American Sam McGee recorded 334 career points on 253 goals and 81 assists at Abington Senior High School (Pa.) while 2017 West Chester East Offensive Player of the Year Cammi Luidens led West Chester East High School (Pa.) to 28 wins over her four-year career en route to three All-Ches-Mont League individual accolades.
Senior Morgan Lamey, who made 14 starts on the attack in 2016, will add veteran leadership and experience up top, while sophomore Sara Hughes, who missed her freshman season due to injury, rounds out SJU’s returning attackers.
In addition to Kelly, Luidens, and McGee, there are three additional freshmen who are eager to make an impact on the offensive end of the field this spring in 2017 Lancaster-Lebanon League Attacker of the Year Paige Diminick of Hempfield High School (Pa.), Alyssa Manley, who scored 240 goals at Bishop Shanahan High School (Pa.), and 2017 All-Division pick Emma Murphy of Sachem North High School (N.Y.).
Six returners from last year’s squad are in the mix to run the midfield this season, including the veteran duo of senior Kate Payne and junior Hayley Sabol and the sophomore quartet of Julia Pash, Penny Green, Bridget Cerciello, and Laura Lasprogata.
Over her first three seasons on Hawk Hill, Payne paved the way as a strong defensive midfielder, totaling 44 ground balls and 38 caused turnovers through 46 games, with 35 starts. Her experience on SJU’s defensive unit will prove integral to SJU’s success this spring.
“KP will bring her senior leadership to the midfield after stepping up this offseason,” said Kahoe.
Since stepping foot on Sweeney Field in Fall 2015, Sabol has been a force to be reckoned with on both the offensive and defensive ends of the ball. Making all 37 starts for the Hawks over the last two seasons, Sabol has put together an impressive career stat line of 41 points (31g, 10a), 43 ground balls, and 30 caused turnovers. Proving her versatility, last season, she tied for the team lead in both free position goals and caused turnovers.
Pash and Green broke through with starting roles as rookies last season and seamlessly fit into SJU’s midfield unit. A 2017 Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team selection, Pash found the back of the net 15 times, which included an explosive, six-point effort in SJU’s road win over St. Bonaventure, and added 30 draw controls, 21 ground balls, and 15 caused turnovers. Green played in all 18 games last spring and made the final 13 starts of the season en route to a 15-goal rookie campaign.
Cerciello, who appeared in 14 games and scored in six of them last spring, and Lasprogata will add to the Hawks’ midfield unit while freshman Taylor Newman-Farr, a three-time All-Conference selection while at South Lakes High School (Va.), has also impressed in the offseason.
“We are excited about the depth of our midfield with returners KP, Pash, Penny, Bridget, Hayley, and Laura leading the way.”
Junior Michaela Cassidy and sophomore Sara Poli round out SJU’s returning midfielders while freshmen Skyler Demis, who scored 105 goals as a senior at West Chester Bayard Rustin High School (Pa.), 2017 Lancaster-Lebanon League First Team All-Star Skylar Dorenkamp of Manheim Township High School (Pa.), and Kenzie Staska, who scored 153 goals as a senior at Bishop Shanahan High School (Pa.) can be expected to add depth to SJU’s midfield this spring.
The Hawks’ last line of defense before the goalkeeper is in excellent hands this season with a group of seniors that have bought in and have proven their significance on SJU’s defensive unit. Senior tri-captain Kristen Kelbon, senior tri-captain Catie Vivian, senior Dana Garbinski, and junior Ally Beck are primed and ready to defend the Hawks this spring.
Kelbon earned a starting spot on defense and excelled with it in a breakthrough junior campaign last year, recording single-season, career-high numbers in ground balls (36) and caused turnovers (21) en route to 2017 A-10 All-Conference First Team defensive honors. Kelbon led or tied for the team lead in both defensive categories last year and will be looked upon to anchor the defense in 2018.
After missing last spring due to injury, Vivian will return to a starting role on the defensive end this spring. Vivian is no stranger to the daily grind as she earned all 19 starts as a shutdown defender in 2016.
The versatile Garbinski and Beck will round out SJU’s back line while also affecting the game in other ways for the Crimson and Gray. Garbinski, who made all 18 starts last season, will once again serve as SJU’s primary draw control specialist in 2018. Beck has proven to be defensive midfield force and earned single-season, career-high numbers in ground balls (22) and caused turnovers (14) in 2017.
“The experience that Kristen, Catie, Dana, and Ally will provide will allow us to play a quick and aggressive style of defense, said Kahoe. “With two captains on the defensive line, their leadership will only add to the knowledge and depth as we look to push transition and play a fast style of lacrosse.”
Looking to break into the Hawks’ rotation is the next group of up-and-coming defenders in sophomore returner Caroline Heath, sophomore Sarah Platt, a UVA transfer who owns high-level experience as a member of the 2015 USA U-19 National Team, freshman Taylor Newman-Farr, a three-time All-Conference selection while at South Lakes High School (Va.) whose versatility will allow for time in the Hawks’ midfield, and freshman Anna Seifert, a three-time All-Ches-Mont selection while at Bishop Shanahan High School (Pa.).
Graduate student Liz O’Sullivan enters her final collegiate season as SJU’s starting goalkeeper in 2018. After transferring to Hawk Hill from the University of Notre Dame for the 2017 season, O’Sullivan saw time in the early portion of last year’s schedule before missing the rest of the spring due to injury. A talent between the pipes, O’Sullivan earned NCAA Tournament wins with the Fighting Irish and will look to bring the experiences gained from that high-level of competition into her final collegiate go-around.
“We are excited to have Liz stepping up and ready in the cage,” said Kahoe. “Her experience will help as she is an anchor for our defense.”
Freshman Corinne Buttner will add depth to the goalkeeper position this spring. A three-time Section 9 finalist, Buttner made 327 saves over her three-year career at Monroe Woodbury High School (N.Y.).
Graduate student goalkeeper Amelia Deibler made history last season as she recorded 10 victories in net, a tie for the all-time, single-season, goalkeeper wins record on Hawk Hill. Deibler started the final 16 games of the season following O’Sullivan’s injury and led the Hawks to an appearance in the A-10 postseason.
Sophomore Veronica Wilson, a walk-on who saw action in a pair of league contests last spring, will add depth to SJU’s goalkeeper unit.