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Women's Lacrosse Kicks Off Season Sunday Against Hofstra
Kara Dorr led the Retrievers with 29 goals last season.
It’s a new season and a clean slate for the UMBC women’s lacrosse team.
Just one year after winning the America East Conference regular season, the Retrievers missed the league tournament in 2007 for the first time since joining the America East four years earlier.
But 2008 is a new year, and head coach Courtney Connor expects big things from her team.
“There are a lot of things that we learned from last year into this year,” she said. “Every year you want to build and get better, and we absolutely have gotten better each and every year, even though the record may not have shown it. We’re all on the same page, which I think is the most important, from the players to the coaches. We’re all in this together.”
Senior Ali Levendusky will head up a young attacking unit that will miss 2007 leading scorer Jen Kasper. But Levendusky, who joined Kasper on the America East All-Conference second team, scored 28 goals last season, second-best on the team, and is primed to finish her career with a bang.
“Ali is somebody who can always find the back of the net,” Connor said. “She is definitely a go-to player.”
Joining Levendusky on the front line will be senior team captain Meghan Keelan and sophomore Sara Marshall. Keelan, who started all 18 games as a sophomore but none last season, will return to the starting lineup for her senior campaign, while Marshall, who played in just three games in 2007, had a great fall season to potentially earn a starting spot.
“She busted onto the scene halfway through the fall,” Connor said. “She’s playing hard, and she’s a very fluent attacker and smart with the ball. That stuff you just can’t teach.”
Sophomore Amanda Gable will be a key component to the attacking corps when healthy. She scored 13 goals in her rookie campaign and was named the MVP of the Friendship Games in
“Gable is a good player on both ends of the field,” Connor said. “We’ll miss her until she can come back. She’s a versatile player who we want to be on the field.”
Freshmen Erika Braerman and Ashley Stodter will also see ample minutes on the attack. Braerman has a strong shot and could find her way into the starting lineup as she gains confidence throughout the season. Stodter, a 2007 All-American and conference Player of the Year, is the most decorated player of her class.
Chizmar, the Retrievers’ only all-conference first team selection in 2007, led UMBC with 29 ground balls and 17 draw controls last season. At 5-foot-10, she is a presence on the defensive end of the field. Dorr scored a team-high 29 goals and won 42 draw controls last year after an all-rookie 2006 campaign and will take on a leadership role off the field, as well, as a team captain.
“Kara Dorr is a true middie,” Connor said. “She’s definitely a key player for us, and we’re looking for her to do a lot this year.”
The 5-foot-11 Swift makes the transition from attack to midfield this year to help fill the void left by Kelly Fahey, who graduated after scoring 100 goals in her career, including 26 last season. Swift also scored 26 goals in 2007, her first full season after recovering from an ACL injury.
“Abbey is a great force on the offensive end, a good strong dodger,” Connor said. “She will be stepping into a huge role again this year, building off of last year.”
Burgoyne had a tremendous freshman campaign as a defensive midfielder, but Connor will look for the all-rookie team member to take more of an attacking role this season. Burgoyne scored eight goals in 2007 while picking up 25 ground balls and causing 15 turnovers, second-best on the team in both categories.
Cook is another versatile player who will be a key part of the attacking midfield. She started seven games last season and scored four goals.
A trio of freshmen – Kristen Milligan, Megan Linkous and Carrie Paris – are also expected play key roles in the midfield.
In addition, freshman Casie Boltja is a former all-state player from
Freshman Brooke Richardson comes from a successful high school program could see a lot of time as well. Connor believes sophomore Rachel Pincus’ contributions this season will be minimal due to a hip injury.
Junior team captain Ashley Lancer will again anchor the defense, along with sophomores Erika Welck and Sarah Willis. A good communicator, Lancer is a leader on and off the field. Welck has battled a shoulder injury and played just nine games last year, but Connor is hopeful that she will be able to contribute. Willis started seven games as a freshman when she picked up 17 ground balls and caused 10 turnovers, but she is also coming off a knee injury.
Sophomore Cari Haas could break into the starting lineup when she recovers from a hip flexor. Haas is a smart defender who is great on eight-meter defense. Freshman C.J. Durham is fast, athletic and tall at 5-foot-9. She will also see ample playing time and could start on defense.
Speedy sophomore Claire Jancuska is another player who could get more minutes this season after playing in just six games last year.
Susie Sweeney and Kate Quick battled for the starting goalie job throughout last season, with Sweeney starting 11 games and Quick six. This year, however, it appears Quick, a sophomore, has won the position, while Sweeney, a junior, will serve as her backup.
“It’s a great battle between the two of them,” Connor said. “To have two great goalies is awesome because if for some reason it’s just not Kate’s day, we have somebody else of equal ability ready to step in.”
Connor added that freshman Natalie Rau is also a capable goalkeeper who will gain experience behind the two veterans.
Two-thirds of UMBC’s coaching staff is new in 2008, as Connor has added former All-Americans and current U.S. National Team members Quinn Carney and Kelly Berger to the mix. Carney played with Connor on four national championship teams at
“It’s great to have two assistants of their caliber, their knowledge,” Connor said. “Quinn and I came from the same background, which has proved to be very important because we’re always on the same page. Kelly has seemed to fit in well with us. I’ve always wanted her on my team ever since she was a recruit.”
The Retrievers have the most challenging schedule in Connor’s tenure, with five teams that earned berths in the 2007 NCAA Tournament – Hofstra, Vanderbilt, Johns Hopkins, Yale and
“I think it’s great in that you’re up for every game because it’s against a tough opponent,” Connor said. “You definitely have to be on your game each and every game. I chose to have a tougher schedule than last year despite our record because our record didn’t show the talent of the team. I think these girls are ready for what we’re putting in front of them.”
The America East Conference schedule begins Feb. 29 at
“Every conference game is a dog fight,” Connor said.
In addition to 2007 NCAA quarterfinalist Johns Hopkins, the Retrievers will also face off with cross-town rivals Loyola and Towson, while perennial foes Old Dominion and Delaware are also back on the schedule.