YORK, PA - The York College women's lacrosse opens 2014 coming off the most successful two-year stretch in the history of the program. The Spartans have won 28 games in the last two years with a pair of NCAA Tournament berths including a Sweet 16 appearance last spring.
Head coach Jen Muston believes this squad can carry on the tradition and standards that have become the norm for the Spartan program. Muston has a very good mix of returning experience and dynamic young newcomers that make this a fresh and exciting new team.
Muston will turn to a pair of veteran leaders in seniors Erica Mulford (Crownsville, Md./Seton Keough) and Ashley Smith (Cinnaminson, N.J./Cinnaminson). Mulford finished her junior season with 59 points on 47 goals and 12 assists. Mulford earned first team All-Capital Athletic Conference honors and was also an IWLCA All-Metro Region selection.
"Erica had a great year last year," says Muston. "She is a player who can create for herself or her teammates and really has a nose for the goal. Erica has been a large part of our success and I expect her to be a great leader on and off the field this year."
Smith took over the Spartans' starting goalie job early last year and flourished in net for the Green and White. Smith boasted a 7.78 goals against average and a .482 save percentage, as she was 13-4 for the year. Smith started in 17 of the Spartans' 19 games, as she played 887:01 in goal. Smith recorded 107 stops last year. Smith earned second team All-CAC honors and also earned a spot on the IWLCA All-Metro Region squad.
"Ashley really stepped up last year," says Muston. "Ashley is a great leader for our defense. She is athletic and gives us a great presence in net."
Muston will turn to senior Melissa Ritchey (Hampstead, Md./North Carroll), and sophomores Megan Stine (Stevensville, Md./Annapolis Area Christian) and Allison Kolacy (Rockaway, N.J./Morris Knolls) to join Mulford on the Spartan attack.
Ritchey notched eight points on three goals and five assists in 17 games last year. She recorded one game-winning goal for the Spartans. Stine had a great freshman year as she totaled 29 points on 13 goals and a team-high 16 assists. Kolacy played in 11 games last year as she recorded nine points on two goals and seven assists.
"I like the potential of our attack," says Muston. "We have good talent and depth. I think we will be more versatile and have the ability to score in a number of different ways. We should be a pretty dynamic offensive team."
Senior Jenna Hiponia (Annapolis, Md./Annapolis Area Christian), sophomore Brittany Noell (Silver Spring, Md./Our Lady of Good Counsel), sophomore Bri Boyer (Shrewsbury, Pa./Susquehannock) and freshman Katelyn Cattrano (Manchester, Md./Manchester Valley) are three other Spartans who will see time in the attack.
Hiponia came off the bench in all 19 of the Spartan games last year as she notched 15 points on 11 goals and four assists. Noell contributed two goals in limited run during her freshman year. Boyer scored once in ten games for York as a freshman. Cattrano is one of the first year Spartans who will have a chance to have an impact on the squad. She has a hard, accurate shot while she is also an effective dodger with the ability to finish around the cage.
The Spartan midfield will be anchored by junior Sarah Castle (Annapolis, Md./Annapolis Area Christian) and senior Kerri Nicolich (Islip, N.Y./Islip). Newcomer Marissa Gochar (Mt. Airy, Md./Glenelg) gives York a deep and talented midfield unit.
Castle finished her sophomore year with 26 points on 25 goals and one assist. She also had 16 ground balls, 38 draw controls, and 13 caused turnovers. Nicolich tallied nine points on seven goals and two assists in 19 games including eight starts last season.
Gochar is a true midfielder who has the potential to make an immediate impact on the Spartan squad. She is highly athletic and is a good two-way player.
Junior Allison Green (Ellicott City, Md./Howard) returns to the lineup after missing last year due to injury.
"Our midfield will be very athletic," says Muston. "We are expecting this group to really step up this year and produce results, not only individually, but also as a group."
The defense is led by senior All-CAC selection Jess Soroka (Pasadena, Md./Chesapeake Senior), senior Kristin Virag (Pottstown, Pa./Owen J. Roberts), sophomore Megan Strauch (Baltimore, Md./Perry Hall), junior Karlie Dougherty (Baltimore, Md./Mercy), and freshman Macey Yates (Davidson, Md./Annapolis Area Christian).
Soroka scooped up 22 ground balls, captured six draw controls and forced seven turnovers as a junior en route to her all-conference honors. Virag recorded five ground balls, five caused turnovers, and four draw controls in 17 games including 11 starts last year. Strauch had a very good freshman year as she picked up 32 ground balls, led the team with 21 caused turnovers and had five draw controls. Dougherty tallied a pair of goals last year while she also had 23 ground balls and forced 20 turnovers. Yates is a talented newcomer who is expected to make an impact on the defensive unit.
"We have a tough group of players on defense," says Muston. "We have a good mix of experience and newcomers who can play a significant role in our success this year. I like our talent in the defensive third of the field."
There are a number of freshmen and sophomores who are coming on strong during the preseason as they vie for field time on defense.
Muston is excited about the possibilities for this year's edition of the Spartans.
"This is a team who is very eager to learn and the talent gives us great flexibility in what we can do on the field," says Muston. "I am really excited to see what we can accomplish this year."
The Spartans schedule is a tough one, something that Muston has never shied away from. The Spartans are ranked 11th to start the season. The will face five other teams ranked in the preseason poll and three others who received votes in the IWLCA Top 20 poll. Conference foe Salisbury is the preseason number one while CAC newcomer Christopher Newport is ranked 16th. Mary Washington is among the programs receiving national votes. Non-conference opponents Franklin & Marshall (5th), Gettysburg (6th), and Ithaca (18th) are also ranked while Messiah and Haverford are receiving votes in the preseason national poll.
York is picked to finish second in the CAC according to the league's preseason coaches poll.
"I put together a tough schedule and I believe we are up to the task," says Muston. "This schedule will help prepare us for a trip to the postseason."
The Spartans open the season on Wednesday afternoon when they travel to Lebanon Valley for a 3:45 non-conference contest. The Spartans open their conference schedule against Salisbury on March 15 at Kinsley Field.