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2006 WOMEN'S LACROSSE SEASON OUTLOOK
Kelly Fiorani and the Retrievers open the season Saturday when they host Howard at UMBC Stadium at 2 p.m.
The UMBC women’s lacrosse team finished fourth in the America East in 2005 with a 5-10 overall record and 3-3 league mark.
But 2006 brings new faces and new challenges.
Courtney Connor became the third head coach in program history on
Connor brought in two All-Americans as assistant coaches, Tara Singleton from Loyola and Tina Fedarcyk from Notre Dame. Both are
Connor believes the Retrievers are eager to learn and build on the past success of their coaches.
“Whenever there’s [a coaching] change, it can either bring upon good changes to the program or a year of rebuilding,” she said. “The team is very positive and receptive. Change can be difficult, but they’re taking it in stride, and I think they’re doing very well with it. We’re a very positive group, and I think the girls are feeding off of that.”
In addition to three new coaches, UMBC has a large and talented incoming class of nine freshmen and four transfers who hope to fill the void left by the graduation of 2005 All-America East second-team members Stephanie Crouch, Anna Jacobs and Jocena Venditti. The trio combined to score 52 goals in 2005.
The Retrievers return three former all-conference players in senior Kelly Fiorani, junior Kelly Fahey and sophomore Ali Levendusky.
Fiorani, a 2004 All-America East first-team selection, and Fahey, a 2004 second-team and all-rookie team honoree, will anchor the midfield, while Levendusky, a 2005 all-rookie team choice, will lead the attack.
“Ali is very passionate about the game and works hard every second,” Connor said of Levendusky, who finished fourth on the team with 24 points in 2005 but is coming off a groin injury.
Joining Levendusky on the front line will be red-shirt junior Jen Kasper, who missed most of last season with a knee injury. Kasper, voted co-captain by her teammates, scored 34 goals in 37 career games before her injury and is ready to again contribute in 2006.
“Jen Kasper is a great leader on the offensive end,” Connor said. “She has great skills and will take charge on the field.”
Also expected to play key roles on the attack are junior Heather Licht, sophomore Megan Keelan and freshmen Abbey Swift and Colleen Dalton. Although both Keelan and Swift are coming off knee surgeries, they are progressing well and eager to produce on the field. In addition, senior transfer Kelley Duncan and freshman Kyle Routson will compete for playing time up front.
Midfield is the Retrievers’ strongest and deepest position, as four newcomers join the five returning veterans. Fiorani, who was voted co-captain by her teammates, is UMBC’s active career scoring leader with 101 goals, while Fahey led the team with 15 assists and 12 caused turnovers last season.
Also returning to the midfield are fifth-year senior Ede Carpenter, a team leader and a strong player on both ends of the field, and junior Megan Mullins. Like Fiorani, Mullins has spent the last three fall seasons with UMBC’s women’s soccer team and will add tremendous speed to the Retrievers’ transition.
In addition, the Retrievers hope junior Sarah Wilkin, who missed the fall with a knee injury, will be back during the season. Her sister, Laura Wilkin, is a freshman who transferred to UMBC this spring after one semester at
“We expect Sarah to contribute as soon as she’s physically able to step onto the field,” Connor said. “Laura is so fast. She can run forever. We’ll look for her to get some good playing time this year as well.”
The Retrievers also have three other newcomers at midfield. Junior Lynnea Spinnenweber, a transfer from
“Lynnea has a great dodge and an incredibly accurate shot,” Connor said. “She’s very hard to stop when she’s going hard.”
Lancer will most likely see more playing time on the defensive end of the field while she improves her stick skills.
Sophomores Maggie Chizmar and Brittany Strasdaukas are both listed as defensive players, but could join the midfield, as well.
“They can both handle the ball well and are not only good on the defensive end, but in the transition, too,” Connor said.
Senior co-captain Julie Libertini and junior Sam Sankovich will anchor the defense for the Retrievers. Libertini has started all but four games in her three years at UMBC, while Sankovich established herself as a starter last season.
“Libertini is very fast and a good communicator,” Connor said. “She is a senior, and the team will definitely be looking to her for direction on the field. Sam Sankovich has a great check and is also a tremendous communicator on the field. It’s great to have her voice so everyone can hear.”
Two newcomers, Stephanie Douglas and Allison Garaffa, will be competing for playing time as freshmen.
Connor expects freshmen Susie Sweeney and Jen Venter to battle for the starting goalkeeper job. Incumbent junior Kristina Raab, who started all 15 games for the Retrievers last season, will look to gain time in the net when she returns from a back injury.
The Retrievers, once again, have an extremely challenging schedule, as they will take on three teams –
America East action will be highlighted by a home game against defending conference champion
“We’re excited about what this next year brings and showing everyone what this team can do,” Connor said. “With our speed, we’re definitely going to be able to run with the other teams.”
The Retrievers open the season Feb. 18 as they host Howard at UMBC Stadium. America East play begins March 26 against