Women's Lacrosse Begins Spring Season with High Expectations
Issue   |   Tue, 03/01/2016 - 23:48

Fresh off their 15th appearance in the NESCAC championship tournament, the Amherst women’s lacrosse team is primed to succeed in the 2016 season. The squad is comprised of a mix of veterans and new faces, with 18 players returning to the team from last year. These upperclassmen will look to guide and rely upon the 10 new players joining the purple and white on the field for the first time.

Last season, many underclassmen, including sophomore Julia Crerend who scored 14 goals and recorded three assists, produced in a big way for Amherst. This depth is essential for any team with playoff aspirations, and it seems as if Amherst has only improved upon this aspect in advance of the coming season. This combination of leadership and depth should prove to make Amherst formidable opponents in the face of the tough field of NESCAC teams.

Coach Christine Paradis, entering her 22nd season at the helm of the women’s lacrosse program, is no stranger to success. With an overall record of 249-85 during her tenure as head coach, Paradis has seen it all, from winning the ECAC Championships in the years 1997 and 1998 to bringing the purple and white its first NCAA championship win in 2003.
More recently, during the 2014 season, Paradis guided Amherst to a 19-3 record enroute to an appearance in the NCAA Final Four. Her .746 winning percentage is among the best in the nation, and provides even more proof of her ability to lead a program to success in both regular season and postseason matchups. The current iteration of the women’s lacrosse team contains 11 members who have experienced a run deep into the postseason, and this group will serve as the team’s knowing veterans to guide the eager newcomers.

This season, Amherst will look to quickly generate momentum as they did last year, when they won five of their first six games. In contrast to the 2015 season, however, the purple and white hope to sustain that momentum, and improve upon their 9-7 overall record from last spring.

In addition, the purple and white will begin the season with a bitter taste left in their mouths following their devastating 9-8 loss to Middlebury in the NESCAC quarterfinals. In particular, the team’s six seniors will without a doubt be looking to redeem themselves, with the ultimate goal being to finish their Amherst careers by bringing home a NESCAC championship.

The purple and white’s attacking corps contains an intriguing combination of both veteran leaders and new faces. Two of Amherst’s tri-captains, seniors Mia Haughton and Devin O’Connor, play up front, and both will hope to build upon their productive seasons last year. Haughton scored 15 goals and added 14 assists, while O’Connor found the back of the net eight times and recorded 10 assists. They, along with the other returners, will be joined by four first-years, Kaitlyn Haase, Lindsey Call, Haley Henriksen and Annie Cohen.

The midfield, led by the final tri-captain senior Rachel Passarelli, will look to continue their dominance from last year. Passarelli compiled an astounding 42 goals last season, and was joined in her impressive output by Claire Cagnassola ’17, who notched 25 goals. Two first-years, Sabrina Solow and Jacq Fitzgerald, project to play big roles in this year’s iteration of the purple and white’s dominant midfield.

Amherst’s defense, anchored by seniors Katie Paolano and Emily Kelty, adds excellent depth this year through first-years Shannon Tierney, Casey Tucker and Kate Burns. The defensive squad will look to continue and improve upon their dominant performances from last year.

The purple and white will begin their season this Saturday, when they host NESCAC rival Bowdoin at noon.