February 19, 2009

2009 Spartan Women's Lacrosse Season Preview

YORK, PA - The York College women’s lacrosse team enters the 2009 campaign on the heels of the best season in the brief history of the program. Under first-year head coach Jen Dragoni, not only did the 2008 Spartans post the program’s best record at 11-6, but they also eclipsed the double-digit win total for the first time.
     “We had a very strong season last year,” said Dragoni as she enters into her second season at the helm of the green and white. “It was a great stepping stone for where this program is headed in the future. The returning players understand the need to build upon the foundation that has been created in order to continue our success. This team has completely bought into that philosophy.” 
     And this season, the Spartans will have to build with a new-look roster. Gone are York’s top five scorers from last season, including two All-Capital Athletic Conference performers. Additionally the defensive unit will sport multiple fresh faces with the departure of several talented student-athletes.
     “This season is going to be exciting because we will be calling upon young and fresh new faces to step up and take over,” Dragoni said concerning the new-look Spartans. “They are the future of our program and it will be very rewarding to see each one of them progress throughout the season and play a major role in the success we will experience.”
     The Spartans do return a strong core of players headlined by All-CAC and All-Metro Region first-team goalkeeper Anne Feustle. Feustle notched a first-rate performance between the pipes in 2008, playing each of York’s 1,005 minutes. The three-year starter recorded a career-best 10.27 goals against average turning away 140 shots throughout the year. A captain in 2009, Feustle will look to be the backbone of the Spartan defense and put in another all-league caliber season.
     “Anne’s ability to keep us in games is a great advantage for us,” Dragoni said. “Her technical skills and immense composure coupled with a great work ethic makes her a difficult goalkeeper to beat.”
     Joining Feustle as captains are senior Megan Bell and junior Megan Foy, midfielders who will be called upon to bring quality play to both ends of the field. Bell is York’s top returning scorer after totaling 18 points on 14 goals and four assists. She tallied a team-high 60 draw controls to go along with 39 ground balls in 2008, making her a great asset in obtaining possession for the green and white.
     “Megan (Bell) is absolutely one of our conference’s best midfielders,” Dragoni said. “She can play defense against the best attackers. She can score against the best defenders. Megan will have an opportunity to shine this year and she has the ability to do just that.”
     One of York’s most athletic players, Foy enters the year looking for a breakout season. Blessed with tremendous speed and quickness, the junior midfielder has the ability to wreak havoc on both ends of the field. Defensively, she forces attackers into precarious positions, wins possession, and transitions well through the midfield. On the offensive end, her top-notch athleticism should generate significant offensive pressure on York’s opponents.
     “Meg (Foy) is one of the most athletic players I have ever seen,” Dragoni raved. “Not only is she athletic, but she has the ability to translate that athleticism to the lacrosse field. She is without a doubt, the heart of our team and is primed for a big year this season.”
     Three talented, but unproven, student-athletes are set to join Bell and Foy in the Spartan midfield. Senior Corey Hawks, who appeared in eleven games last year, moves up from her traditional defensive slot to add stability to the midfield. After an exceptional off-season, Hawks has put herself into a position to be a significant contributor in the 2009 lineup. Freshmen Ashley Kanzler and Whitney Kendall are each loaded with potential and provide quality depth to the Spartan midfield. Kanzler hails from the lacrosse hotbed of Baltimore, Md., and will look to be a solid contributor right away. Kendall’s speed and fitness gives York another excellent athlete to patrol the midfield.
     “The upperclassmen will be looked upon to be the heart of our midfield this season,” Dragoni said. “With some fresh talent thrown into the mix, our midfield will consist of players who are fast, strong, and willing to go the extra mile to get the job done.”
      Headlined by Feustle, the Spartans sport a talent-rich defensive unit that could prove to be one of the CAC’s best. Junior Kelly Vrana, who posted a breakout year in 2008, will look to up her level of play once again and become one of the league’s top defenders. Sophomore Katie Mansell returns to the lineup after a year of development as a freshman. Fully adjusted to the collegiate game, Mansell’s quality stick skills and excellent work ethic should be valuable assets to the Spartan defense. The green and white also welcome two new student-athletes to the
defensive ranks, junior Courtney Heller and sophomore Brittany Geraghty. Heller embarks on her Spartan career after transferring in for this season. A physically strong player, Heller will be called upon to play a significant role in the 2009 defensive unit. Geraghty brings her hard-working attitude to the lineup and should provide York with great defensive depth as she continues to improve.
     “Our defense is expected to be the strong point of our team this season,” Dragoni remarked. “With a veteran in the cage as well as smart, talented, and strong players in front of her, our defense should prove to be very difficult to score on this season.”
     On the attacking end, the Spartan squad consists of young talent that will be called upon to make big strides right away. Sophomore Molly Kerrigan, an aggressive and strong player, could prove to be one of York’s top attacking threats this season. After a year of development behind some of the most talented offensive players in program history, Kerrigan will look to translate that intangible experience into tangible goals for 2009. Fellow sophomore Katie Bowers will provide additional experience on offense. A tough player with a fearless attitude, Bowers should generate numerous scoring opportunities for herself and teammates. A pair of freshmen in Meaghan Doak and Rachel Klado will look to add quality play in the attack. Doak is another newcomer loaded with potential who should see significant minutes early in her career. Klado, an attacker dedicated to honing her craft, will give York solid offensive depth.
     “Our attack is going to have a different look this year,” Dragoni said. “We have a talented young group, each with a ton of potential ahead of them, and they will be expected to step up and play a major role in scoring goals and winning games for us this season.”
     If the Spartans are to improve on last season’s 11-6 campaign, they will have to do so against some of the toughest competition in all of Division III. York will face a schedule that amassed a
cumulative mark of 150-119 last year, while ten of 16 teams had records over .500. The traditionally strong CAC powers Salisbury, who made the Final Four last year, and St. Mary’s are once again listed among the best teams in the nation. Lacrosse Magazine recently rated the Sea Gulls as the country’s third best squad heading into 2009 while the Seahawks are currently 15th in the preseason poll.
     “The old saying definitely holds true here; to be the best you have to beat the best,” Dragoni
commented on the tough 2009 slate. “We want to be up there with those top teams on a consistent basis, and that is where I believe we can be if we continue to work hard.”
     The Spartans will begin that ascent up the national ladder on Saturday, February 21, when the Green and White travel to Elizabethtown for a 1:00 pm tilt.

Photo of 2008 All-CAC and All-Metro Region first-team goalkeeper Anne Feustle

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