BALTIMORE – UMBC women's lacrosse will welcome 12 newcomers to its 2013 roster, as announced by co-head coaches Tony Giro and Amy Appelt. The group includes six All-Americans – four Under Armour All-Americans – and a wealth of championship experience.
"We are very excited about the incoming class," co-head coach Tony Giro said. "We graduated some great players, who really help raise the level of UMBC lacrosse. Unfortunately, you have to replace those players and Amy (Appelt) and I feel like we've done that with quality people and players. All over the field, we think this team will be quicker and more explosive."
Transfers Ali Carpenter (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh/Loyola), Mary Milligan (Edgewater, Md./South River/Anne Arundel CC) and Alyssa Semones (Westminster, Md./Westminster/Penn State) bring collegiate experience to the Retrievers. Carpenter played two seasons with Loyola, who won back-to-back BIG EAST Championships. The Baltimore, Md., native saw action in 12 games as a freshman, before suffering an injury and returning for five games during her second season with the Greyhounds.
"Ali comes from highly successful high school (McDonogh) and college programs (Loyola) that teach the game the right way," said Giro. "She is the kind of kid who will run through a wall to win a ground ball and has an innate desire to win. We think Ali will add a new level of aggressiveness and understanding to our attack and midfield units."
Milligan played two seasons at Anne Arundel Community College where she helped her team to District B and Region 20 championships in 2011 and earned First Team All-American and All-Conference honors as a sophomore on a NJCAA national runner-up squad.
"Mary had a tremendous experience in junior college and it really shows in her play," Giro said of Milligan. "She has a high lacrosse IQ which allows her to make quick and correct decisions on both ends of the field."
Semones saw action in three games at Penn State last season, tallying one assist on the year. Prior to her time with the Nittany Lions, the Westminster, Md., native posted a school record at Westminster High School with 229 career goals – ranking third all-time in Carroll County history. She earned All-Conference and All-County honors all four years with the Owls and added Under Armour All-American recognition to her resume in 2011.
"Alyssa will battle for a starting midfield position from day one," explained Giro. "She is fast, strong, physical and plays with an edge which will help her fit right into the America East style of play."
Kris Coppolino (Winter Springs, Fla./Winter Springs) marks the only non-Maryland resident joining the Retrievers in 2013, coming north after a stellar career at Winter Springs High School. TheLacrosse Magazine and Seminole County Player of the Year in the South Region and US Lacrosse All-American, finished her career with 496 points – the most in school history at Winter Springs and ranking ninth all-time on ESPN's list – and helped her Bears' team to the state finals during her junior season.
"Kris comes to us after leaving Florida as one of the best players in the state's history," said Giro. "She is quick, skilled and deceptive with the ball which enables her to get through tight spaces and finish. Her communication on the field shows that she is a natural leader."
The Retrievers add four Howard County standouts in Megan Flock (Ellicott City, Md./Howard), Anne Zabel (Ellicott City, Md./Marriotts Ridge) Rachel Benzing (Ellicott City, Md./Centennial) and Meghan Milani (Glenelg, Md./Glenelg). Flock saw great success on the field during both her high school and club careers. The Ellicott City, Md., native was an Under Armour All-American honoree during her junior season at Howard High School, in addition to helping her team to reach the regional finals as a senior. Her M&D 2012 Black Club team picked up a Club National Championship in 2010, in the midst of two straight undefeated seasons.
"From the first time that we watched Megan play we knew there was something special there," admitted Giro. "She is an outstanding athlete and will help us all over the field. We expect great things from her in terms of ground balls and draw controls."
Zabel, a 2012 Under Armour All-American and a Greater Baltimore Regional All-American, helped Marriotts Ridge High School to a Howard County and District V Championship last season, leading a defense that allowed 3.9 goals per game. During her junior season, Zabel was named one of ESPN's "Top Ten Defenders" and an ESPN All-American Honorable Mention, playing a major role in the Mustangs' state championship victory.
"We are excited to add another Under Armour All-American to our roster," Giro said. "Anne is a lockdown defender who allows us to play more straight-up on the defensive end of the field. We expect Anne to make game-changing plays for us from goal line-to-goal line."
Benzing and Milani each follow in the footsteps of their mothers, each having played for the Retrievers under head coach Kathy Zerrlaut. Benzing, a dual-sport athlete at Centennial, proved to be a fierce competitor during her time with the Eagles. Despite suffering a knee injury during her junior season and missing the basketball campaign, the Ellicott City, Md., native returned to earn All-Metro Honorable Mention and All-County Second Team honors as a junior in lacrosse.
"Rachel should be fully recovered from injury by the time we hit the field this fall," Giro explained. "We think she has the ability to fill a point-guard-esque role for us in that she can get us into offensive sets, she understands game tempo, has the ability to score and makes correct decisions with the ball."
Milani played three seasons of varsity lacrosse at Glenelg High School, earning All-County honors in both lacrosse and field hockey as a junior.
"Megan is a tough, hard-nosed, on the ball defender," Giro said. "She understands angles and is just as adept off the ball as she is on the ball. She comes to us with a tremendous understanding of how we want to play defensively."
Sam Nolan (Fallston, Md./Fallston) and Paulina Christ (Bel Air, Md./Fallston) come to UMBC after being high school and North East Maryland Select Lacrosse Club (NEMS) teammates. Nolan earned Under Armour All-American distinctions as a junior at Fallston High School, as the two helped the Cougars to a state championship run. Nolan, a standout for the field hockey team, was a two-time First Team All-County and All-Conference honoree, while Christ, a member of the state championship soccer team, was named the team's "Key Returner" in back-to-back seasons. The duo also added a national club championship with the NEMS in 2012.
"Sam has the ability to provide instant offense for us," Giro said of Nolan. "She has tremendous vision, allowing her to find her teammates or finish herself. Her combination of size and quickness allows her to both out-physical defenders and face-up and attack the cage.
"Paulina is a workhorse," Giro continued. "We feel very fortunate to have a player like her who we can plug in all over the field. No one plays harder or with more passion than Paulina."
Brittany Marquess (Annapolis, Md./Broadneck) competed for four seasons on the Broadneck varsity lacrosse and track teams, receiving Second Team All-County honors on a county championship lacrosse squad. The Annapolis, Md., native helped the track team to three straight county championships during her time with the Bruins.
"Brittany is lightening quick and brings much needed speed to our program," admitted Giro. "Her ability to push the ball in transition is something we are very excited about."
Local talent Kayley Jones (Catonsville, Md./Mount de Sales) played four years of varsity at Mount de Sales Academy. Jones, who also played for the Mount de Sales championship field hockey team, served as the Sailors' team captain and was named the team's Unsung Hero as a senior.
"Kayley is a constant scoring threat with the ball and should help us seamlessly connect the midfield to the attacking end of the field," said Giro.