The NCAA women’s lacrosse season starts this week. Here’s a rundown of the local squads entering the new season.
2019: 10-8 overall, 2-4 Big Ten (fifth)
Season opener: Feb. 8 vs. Drexel at Homewood Field
Eight starters are back to feather the Blue Jays’ nest, including three-year starter Maggie Schneidereith and dangerous Aurora Cordingley on attack. Schneidereith returns as Hopkins’ active career leader in goals (107), assists (71) and points (178).
Named All-Big Ten and First Team IWLCA All-Mid-Atlantic, Schneidereith had team highs of 48 goals, 29 assists (Big Ten best 1.61 per game) and 77 points last year. Cordingley, now a junior, made it a one-two punch with 41 goals and 22 assists. Senior midfielder Mackenzie Heldberg, who missed all but nine game with an injury last year, is back to make it a one-two-three punch.
Junior Shelby Harrison already ranks fifth all-time at Hopkins in draw controls, and she’ll get those big scorers the ball. On defense, top match-up defender Jeanne Kachris, a two-time All-Big Ten selection, is back to wreak havoc.
Hopkins, ranked 24th preseason, must find a replacement for graduated goalkeeper Haley Crosson. The Blue Jays certainly have the firepower to move up the Big Ten standings this season, and if head coach Janine Tucker’s defense comes together, they could be a dark horse nationally.
2019: 16-5 overall, 9-0 Patriot League (first)
Season opener: Feb. 15 vs. Johns Hopkins at Ridley Athletic Complex
Only five starters are back from the 2019 Patriot League championship squad, but the Greyhounds have marked their territory over the years, going 52-0 the last six seasons in the league and winning six straight undefeated titles — the NCAA’s longest active streak.
Head coach Jen Adams heads into her 12th season with a squad minus some key pieces, but still talented with players like junior attacker Livy Rosenzweig (46 goals, 70 assists) and junior midfielders Sam Fiedler (48, 26) and Elli Kluegel (34 goals).
Rosenzweig became the first player in program history — male or female — to post 100 points in a single season. She ranked fourth in the nation with 116 points and shattered the Greyhounds’ single-season record for assists. Fiedler led the NCAA with a gaudy 67.1 shooting percentage.
Replacing midfielder/draw specialist Taylor VanThof, ace defenders Kristen Yanchoris and Lindsey Ehrhardt and goalkeeper Kady Glynn, among others, won’t be easy. But the Greyhounds, ranked preseason No. 11 in the IWLCA poll, always seem to find a way.
2019: 22-1 overall, 6-0 Big Ten (first), national champions
Season opener: Feb. 8 at George Mason
Seven starters are gone from the dominant 2019 champs, including Megan Taylor, the first goalkeeper to win the Tewaaraton Award. The Terrapins are also minus their top three scorers and an immeasurable amount of leadership and big-game savvy.
That’s the good news for opponents. The bad news is a lot of really good players are back and coach Cathy Reese has Inside Lacrosse’s No. 1 recruiting class coming in.
Seniors Kali Harshorn (48 goals, 19 assists) and Brindi Griffin (44, 24), along with junior Grace Griffin (45, 12), can handle the offense. Incoming freshman midfielder Shaylan Ahearn was the No. 4-ranked recruit in the nation, so she’ll help, too.
Sophomore Maddie McSally, by all accounts, is ready to start in goal. She’ll have seniors Meghan Doherty and Lizzie Colson on defense, too, along with freshman Under Armour All-American Catherine Flaherty, the top defender in her class. Colson and Hartshorn were also the national champs’ draw control leaders.
Ranked No. 1 in the first IWLCA (Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association) poll, the Terrapins again have a target on their back. They’re used to it.
2019: 16-5 overall, 8-1 Patriot League (second)
Season opener: Feb. 8 vs. Virginia at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium
Tewaaraton candidate Kelly Larkin is back with her 69 goals and 52 assists, and Navy is loaded on offense. Midfielder Reagan Roelofs had 146 draw controls, and she’ll make sure the Mids, ranked No. 15 in the preseason, get their chances.
The delightfully named Nicole Victory (32 goals, 31 assists), along with Kayla Harris (31 goals) and Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Annalise Heyward (34 goals) can also fire torpedoes. Larkin was the Patriot League’s preseason Offensive Player of the Year, and the Mids were tabbed second in that poll.
The questions for Navy are on defense. Opponents tallied 17 goals per game in Navy’s five losses a year ago, and there are question marks heading into the spring. Former attacker Gil Eby and junior Carolina Kwon should provide some answers. Sophomore Abbi Young is penciled in at goalkeeper.
Veteran coach Cindy Timchal will likely figure it out, and that offense can carry this squad to a fourth straight NCAA Tournament and and an eighth appearance since 2010. Navy was ousted by Virginia in the second round of last year’s championships. And guess who the Mids open with on Feb. 8 at home?
2019: 7-10, 5-1 Colonial Athletic Association (second)
Season opener: Feb. 8 vs. Penn State at Johnny Unitas Stadium
Head coach Sonia Lamonica returns five of her top seven scorers so the Tigers’ offense will have some bite. Sisters Kaitlin and Kerri Thornton combined for 45 goals and 19 assists. Junior attacker Kaitlin had 31 tallies and 14 helpers, while Kerri earned CAA All-Rookie honors last year as an attacking midfielder. Senior midfielder Shelby Stack chipped in 23 goals and 10 assists and was CAA All-Tournament.
First-team All-CAA seniors Sami Chenoweth and Olivia Conti anchor the defense. Chenoweth is coming off an amazing junior season in which she led the nation in caused turnovers (3.76 per game) and set a CAA single-season record with 64 turnovers forced.
A freshman will be between the pipes in goal — either Carly Merlo or Sara Tyssowski, who won back-to-back state titles at Westminster. Inside Lacrosse top-100 freshman Blair Pearre (No. 21) will immediately help shore up the midfield.
2019: 6-12 overall, 4-3 America East (fourth)
Season opener: Feb. 11 vs. Lehigh at UMBC Stadium
UMBC doesn’t have many returning Retrievers. All but three starters are gone, and midfielder Zoe Pekins is the team’s only senior. The returning starters are attacker Lily Kennedy (11 goals, 15 assists) along with defenders Jessica Loveless and Cassie Evans.
Head coach Amy Slade also has 11 newcomers, including 10 freshmen and Maryland midfield transfer Courtney Renehan. Freshman mid Megan Halczuk was a two-time US Lacrosse All-American at Kennard-Dale (Pa.) High, where she set records with 270 career goals, 706 draw controls and 70 interceptions. Freshman Jenna McDermott is the sister of former UMBC men’s lacrosse standouts Dylan and Blake McDermott.
“Our girls are hungry,” Slade said. “They know what it means to want something and they are all willing to put in the work. With a positive attitude and good work, we’re in a better place to be successful.”
Stevenson (Division III)
2019: 15-4 overall, 8-0 Middle Athletic Conference Commonwealth (first)
Season opener: Feb. 15 vs. Salisbury at Mustang Stadium
Stevenson has advanced to the MAC Commonwealth championship game in six of the last seven years. Unfortunately, Stevenson has corralled just one title over that span, going 1-5 in the tournament finals since joining the league in 2013. The Mustangs last won in 2014, but head coach Kathy Railey has the horses to make another run.
Start with first-team All-MAC selections in senior midfielder Carly Bowes and senior goalkeeper Mack Ferguson. Bowes, who set the school record with 62 goals, had at least one goal in 18 of the team’s 19 games and notched at least four scores in nine contests. Ferguson had career-best 8.89 goals-against average and 172 total saves.
Another senior, defender Sarah Roerty of Mount Airy, was IWLCA All-Region for the second straight year, leading the team with 52 ground balls and 38 caused turnovers.
Photo Credits: Jay VanRensselaer/Johns Hopkins Athletics, Courtesy of Maryland Athletics, Phil Hoffmann/Navy Athletics