Team Enters Second Season under Anne Phillips
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The signs of progress in the renovation of Reese Stadium are unmistakable. The old bleachers are gone and the foundation is in place for a new facility that will include seating, team rooms, archways with the names of every former player and more. The Yale women's lacrosse team itself is in the midst of a similar transformation. The Bulldogs' second season with Anne Phillips as the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Lacrosse should see the team continue to build on the progress that was made last season, with all but two starters returning.
In Phillips' first season the Bulldogs established themselves as one of the top defenses in the country, ranking 13th in scoring defense (9.19 goals per game). The Bulldogs held seven of their final nine opponents to eight or fewer goals, and held their opponent below its season goals-per-game average 14 times in 16 games. That defense, mentored by assistant coach Brigid Strain, returns intact for 2010. Now, the Bulldogs look to boost their offensive output. Along those lines, Phillips has brought in former Notre Dame All-American Jillian Byers -- fourth all-time in goal scoring in NCAA history -- as an assistant coach.
Here is a look at the team, position by position, heading into the 2010 season:
When Phillips arrived in New Haven she vowed to build the team from the goal out. At that time she didn't even know what she had in Whitney Quackenbush, an unproven rookie. But Quackenbush seized the starting job by the second game of the season, and went on to earn second team All-Region and honorable mention All-Ivy League honors. Her .492 save percentage was the third-best by a Yale freshman in 20 years, and she got better as the year went on: a .558 save percentage over the final five games. The Bulldogs expect that trend to continue for the sophomore in 2010.
The defensive unit that developed in front of Quackenbush returns intact for 2010, with some key additions. The leader here is senior Claire Eliasberg, elected Yale's captain by her teammates. Eliasberg has come a long way since her freshman year, when she joined the Bulldogs as a walk-on with only one year of experience playing in high school (her school did not have a team until her senior year). By her sophomore year she had emerged as a starter. Her continued reliability last season included a career-high 12 ground balls and only six turnovers. That, combined with her leadership-by-example style, made her the team's pick as captain.
Eliasberg's classmate, Michele Fiorentino, has been a starter since her freshman season and came up with 23 ground balls last season, the most among Yale's returnees. She provides vocal leadership for this group, bringing 47 games of experience.
The junior class includes a trio of key contributors. Kaitlyn Flatley presents the Bulldogs with a pleasant problem. Her stick skills and lacrosse sense made her an honorable mention All-Ivy League selection last season as a defender, where she was second on the team with 19 caused turnovers. But Flatley also has offensive potential, with five career goals on just six shots. The Bulldogs may take advantage of that aspect of her game this year by playing her more in the midfield. Augusta Hixon continued her dramatic strides last season, starting 15 games after appearing in just five as a freshman. Her speed and athleticism makes her a key part of Yale's clears. Fielding Kidd is a shutdown defender who routinely takes the opponent's top scorer out of the game. She also contributed 21 ground balls last year.
Sophomore Erin Velez came on strong at the end of last season, and has the versatility to play either defense or midfield as needed. The Bulldogs also expect contributions from two freshmen, Adrianna Amendola (Manorville, N.Y.) and Chloë Drimal (Darien, Conn.). Amendola was a two-time All-County selection for Eastport South Manor, also earning defensive MVP honors. Drimal was part of a pair of state championships at Darien.
The midfield is the only area where Yale suffered graduation losses, and both Taylor Fragapane '09 and Jenn Warden '09 were significant contributors. But the Bulldogs feel they have added a significant amount of talent at this position as well.
The senior midfielders both have starting experience. Sarah David started 13 games last season, picking up 16 ground balls. Natalie Reid started eight games, and was also one of the team's vocal leaders. Those two each scored their first collegiate goals last year, finishing the season with six combined.
The junior midfield class is an intriguing duo loaded with potential. Logan Greer used her athleticism to contribute seven goals, 22 ground balls and 18 draw controls (best among Yale's returnees) last season. The Bulldogs will eagerly await her return to the lacrosse field at the conclusion of squash season -- the most recent national rankings pegged her No. 6 in the country in that sport, so she should go deep in the CSA individual tournament Mar. 5-7. Mahi Trivellas has battled injuries throughout her career but adds speed and tenacity to this group.
The Bulldogs are also excited about the freshmen midfielders, who bring impressive individual credentials and come from successful teams. Kristen Chapman (Belmont, Mass.) was a two-time all-league selection at Buckingham Browne & Nichols, where she was also team MVP. Brittany De Lea (Wading River, N.Y.) was an Under Armour All-American at Shoreham Wading River, where she won three state championships. Devon Rhodes (East Northport, N.Y.) combines with Kelsea Smith (Yardley, Pa.) to give the Bulldogs a pair of six-footers at this position. Rhodes was a two-time U.S. Lacrosse All-American at Northport, leading the team to a 21-1 record and Suffolk County championship in her senior season. Smith led Lawrenceville in scoring each of the last two seasons, earning first team all-league honors as a senior.
The attackers are a deep group led by a trio of seniors. Jenna Block had a breakthrough year last season, posting career highs in goals (12), assists (23) and points (35). She will be counted on as the quarterback of Yale's offense. Lindsey DeMarco, an elusive attacker with a powerful shot, scored three goals in just five games. Jessica Sturgill continued her emergence last season, with career highs in goals (23), assists (5) and points (28). She and Block are Yale's top two returning scorers.
Junior Ariana Papier has been limited by injuries in both of her first two seasons, but when healthy she is one of Yale's top scoring threats. She had 11 goals in 13 games last season and also contributed 14 draw controls. Junior Myra Trivellas, Mahi's twin sister, moved into a starting role last season and came up with 11 draw controls in 13 games. Her speed makes her a key part of Yale's ride as well.
Four sophomores could add greatly to Yale's attack. Caroline Crow has great stick skills as a left-handed low attacker but was hampered by an injury last season. Kerry Hamill showed tremendous game sense, and the ability to score, before her season ended with an injury after three games. Winnie Call and Kelsey Merghart never got much of a chance to show what they could do last season due to injury and illness. They could emerge as surprises this year.
The 15-game schedule includes seven Ivy League games and eight non-league games that take the Bulldogs to a total of five different states. Yale plays seven teams that were ranked in Lacrosse Magazine's preseason top 20, and six teams that made the NCAA tournament. The season opener is Feb. 27 vs. Holy Cross. The Bulldogs open Ivy League play vs. Brown on Mar. 17.
New this season is the Ivy League tournament, which includes the top four teams in the standings playing at the home field of the first-place team Apr. 30 to May 2. While the winner of the seven-game regular season is the Ivy League champion, the winner of the tournament receives the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity