PHILADELPHIA – Under the direction of fifth-year head coach Alex Kahoe, the Saint Joseph’s women’s lacrosse team will open the 2019 season this Saturday, February 9, at home against Georgetown at 3:00 p.m., 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, 12-win season, which was capped by a run at the 2018 Atlantic 10 Championship Tournament, and has added 12 true freshmen in preparation of the 2019 spring season.
“We are excited for our 2019 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 against Georgetown.”
The Hawks will embark on their 21st year in the Atlantic 10 Conference this spring, opening league action on the road at St. Bonaventure on Friday, March 22. The Hawks will play VCU on Friday, March 29 in their A-10 home opener and will host four of nine total conference games.
After finishing the 2018 regular season third in the A-10, the Hawks have been predicted to finish third in the conference in this year’s A-10 preseason poll, the league office announced on January 30. SJU returns four All-Conference selections from last season in First Team attacker Lane, Second Team midfielder Cerciello, and All-Rookie attackers Stephanie Kelly and Sam McGee. The 2019 A-10 Championship will run from April 25-28 at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.
Live streaming ($) of all eight regular-season home games will be available via a subscription to ESPN+, ESPN’s new streaming platform and the new home for a majority of Atlantic 10 Conference live digital events. To sign up for United States streaming, please click here. For international streaming, please click here. Live stats will also be provided for all home games, at SJUHawks.com.
Saint Joseph’s enters the 2019 campaign after a 2018 season in which it broke the program records for most goals (262), assists (127), points (389), and shots (618) in a season. The Hawks return 93 percent of that point distribution and 92 percent of that goal scoring, and the trio of seniors Rebecca Lane and Francesca Donato and sophomore Stephanie Kelly comprise well over a quarter for both.
Captain Lane has been a staple in the Hawks’ offensive plan since arriving on Hawk Hill in Fall 2015. Over her first three seasons, she totaled 185 points on 107 goals and 78 assists; her career points total ranks fourth in program history, while her assist total stands as the program record.
A returning 2018 Atlantic 10 First Team attacker after turning in 61 points (36g, 25a) last year, Lane also owns immeasurable international experience with the Australian National Team and will be the leader on SJU’s offensive end of the field this spring.
“Bec has continued to step up in many ways for our team, both on and off the field,” said Kahoe. “She is a leader who has great work ethic and is a true student of the game.”
Donato and Kelly return to complement Lane on the attacking unit in 2019. Donato (36g, 16a) and 2018 A-10 All-Rookie Team selection Kelly (31g, 20a) combined for 100+ points last spring.
2018 A-10 All-Rookie and All-Tournament Team pick Sam McGee will also be in the immediate mix. In her rookie campaign last season, McGee appeared in all 19 games as SJU’s top offensive option off the bench and went for 34 points (23g, 11a), including four goals and three assists in a pair of A-10 postseason contests.
“We are excited about the depth of our offense this year,” added Kahoe. “Returners Fran, Steph, and Sam will continue to make a big impact on our attacking end.”
One freshman in particular has impressed this offseason in Mount Laurel, New Jersey native Lauren Figura. A New Jersey South Team member for the US Lacrosse National Team, Figura recorded 202 points (146g, 56a), 224 draw controls, 329 ground balls, and 54 caused turnovers over her accomplished four-year career at Lenape High School (N.J.).
Sophomore Emma Murphy, a 2017 All-Division pick out of Sachem North High School (N.Y.), sophomore Cammi Luidens, who missed her rookie season due to injury, and freshman Lizzie McBride, a 2018 All-League First Team pick out of Manheim Township High School (Pa.), will also be considered in the attacking game.
Junior Sara Hughes, who scored 215 goals at Methacton High School (Pa.) and sophomores Alyssa Manley, who put away 240 goals at Bishop Shanahan High School (Pa.), and Paige Diminick, the 2017 Lancaster-Lebanon League Attacker of the Year, add returning experience while freshmen Grace Gallagher, an All-League selection at Archbishop Carroll High School (Pa.), Kaela Smith, who scored 141 goals over three years at Bishop Shanahan High School (Pa.), and Julia Strobel, who scored 233 goals in four years with Wilson High School (Pa.) will also compete for minutes on the attack.
A midfield starter since she stepped onto campus, Sabol owns 54 career starts over her first three years and career numbers of 77 points (58g, 19a), 63 draw controls, 58 ground balls, and 11 caused turnovers.
Cerciello enjoyed a breakthrough sophomore season in which she made all 19 appearances with 13 starts and numbers of 29 points (20g, 9a), 39 draw controls, 18 ground balls, and 11 caused turnovers while Pash has excelled as a midfielder over her first two seasons with 94 draw controls, 49 ground balls, and 35 caused turnovers.
All three captains are complete two-way players and will be expected to run the Hawks’ offense and defense through the midfield unit this spring.
“Hayley, Bridget, and Pash have been consistent leaders for us in the midfield,” said Kahoe. “We have a high-powered midfield that will make an impact both on the offensive and defensive ends. We are excited about our depth and what our newcomers will add to our midfield unit.”
Junior Penny Green, who has hit the back of the net 25 times in her first two seasons, and sophomore Taylor Newman-Farr, who proved to be an impact off the bench in 14 rookie appearances last spring, are frontrunners for those starting positions while senior Sinead Brierley and junior Laura Lasprogata have also impressed in the offseason.
Mix in the freshman trio of Sophia Kolkka, the 2018 Pennsylvania Area Schoolgirls Lacrosse Association Most Valuable Player out of Plymouth Whitemarsh High School (Pa.), Olivia Little, a 2018 High School All-American out of Springfield High School (Pa.), and Sammy Tush, a four-time All-Conference selection with 224 career points (128g, 96a) and 308 ground balls out of Mount Saint Mary Academy (N.J.), and the heart of SJU’s offensive and defensive game plan beats strong.
Sophomores Kenzie Staska and Skylar Dorenkamp, who both saw limited action last spring also return while freshmen Riley Delaney, who scored 154 career goals at Garnet Valley High School (Pa.), and Lani Mouat, a Cambridge, New Zealand product who made the 2019 New Zealand U-19 National Team training roster, will add depth to SJU’s midfield unit.
Entering her third year as a starting defender for the Crimson and Gray, senior Ally Beck will anchor the Hawks’ back line this spring. Beck made all 37 starts over the last two seasons and, after losing backline-mates Kristen Kelbon, Juliana Strazulo, and Catie Vivian due to graduation, will be SJU’s leader on the defensive end of the field in 2019.
Beck owns 60 ground balls, 55 draw controls, and 51 caused turnovers, the latter number ranking ninth all-time in program history for career caused turnovers.
“Our defense will be anchored by Ally Beck, whose experience, speed, and defensive awareness will be supported by our newcomer talent,” said Kahoe.
Junior Sarah Platt, a member of the 2015 USA U-19 National Team, and local freshman Lindsey Smith, a four-time All-League selection at Springfield Township High School (Pa.), will also be in the mix while a handful of additional two-way midfielders could see time on the back line as the season progresses.
The Hawks graduated an accomplished goalkeeper at the end of last season, but with the departure of Liz O’Sullivan comes new opportunity for success and playing time for a pair of SJU goalkeepers: sophomore Corinne Buttner and freshman Amber Weedon.
Buttner made eight appearances in net in her rookie campaign last spring, going for a .471 save percentage and 8.54 goals against average for the year as she proved to be a strong option off the bench for the Crimson and Gray.
A native of Catonsville, Maryland, Weedon was Catonsville High School (Md.)’s team MVP as a senior last spring and led the Comets to 36 wins over her four-year career.
Sophomore Veronica Wilson, a 2017 walk-on with two years of experience with the Hawks, will add depth to SJU’s goalkeeper unit.
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