Team Looks to Continue Improvements from a Year Ago
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Entering the fifth season with Anne Phillips as Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Lacrosse, the Yale women's lacrosse team has a rare amount of depth. Six of the top seven scorers from a year ago return, along with a veteran goalkeeper. Nine players who started seven or more games last year are back. The Bulldogs hope that a run of talented recruiting classes pays dividends in 2013, as a group of 10 freshmen gets added to a roster that also features eight sophomores, nine juniors and two seniors.
The Bulldogs will look to continue the improvement they showed last season, when they increased their scoring by a whopping 65 percent over the previous year (from 83 goals to 137 goals). They nearly doubled their assist total (from 28 to 52) and also made dramatic strides on the draw control, winning 41 more draws in 2012 than they did in 2011.
With continued improvement like that, Yale figures to challenge for a spot in the Ivy League tournament -- and the chance to claim the automatic NCAA Tournament bid that goes along with winning that tournament.
Here is a position-by-position look at the team heading into the 2013 season:
5 players (1 senior, 2 juniors, 1 sophomore, 1 freshman)
0 returning starters (seven or more starts) from 2012
Senior Devon Rhodes is Yale's top returning scorer (21-6-27) and has been elected captain by her teammates. One of the team's best shooters, she enters the season with 64 career goals. Another 20-plus goal season (she has already had two) would propel her into Yale's all-time top 15 in that category. Rhodes led the team in goals and points each of her first two seasons, and was a second team All-Ivy League selection as a freshman.
Junior Jen DeVito has come on strong at the end of each of the past two seasons; last year she did not score her first point until the sixth game, but she wound up finishing fifth on the team in goals and points (12-9-21). That included an ability to score in bunches -- she had a five-goal game and a six-point (4-2-6) game. She also was one of the team's most accurate shooters -- among players with 15 or more shots, she was second in shooting percentage (.429). DeVito was second on the team in goals and point (15-3-18) as a freshman.
Junior Meghan Murray has shown the ability to make contributions offensively as well, setting career highs in goals (six) and assists (three) last season. She also has the ability to contribute on the draw control.
Sophomore Kerri Fleishhacker made a quick transition to the collegiate game last year as a freshman. She scored seven goals in her first four games en route to finishing third on the team in goals and tied for third in points (17-5-22).
The lone freshman attacker is AnnaElise Morello (Glen Mills, Pa.). A first team US Lacrosse All-American, she led the nation in assists last season (100) and was second in 2011 (108). She was also fifth nationally in points last year (165) and fourth in 2011 (170). Morello finished her high school career ranked No. 5 in the country in career assists (274). She also finished No. 16 nationally for points in a high school career (442).
11 players (2 juniors, 4 sophomores, 5 freshmen)
4 returning starters (seven or more starts) from 2012
Despite the fact that there are no senior midfielders, this group is talented and deep. Five freshmen get added to a group that includes four returnees who started seven or more games last year.
The junior class includes Julie Mongan and Courteney Rutter. Mongan has appeared in 19 games over the past two seasons, contributing a pair of goals and an assist. Rutter has been hampered by injuries in each of her first two seasons, but has shown the ability to contribute when healthy.
The sophomore midfielders made a big impact last season. Cathryn Avallone tied for third on the team in points and was fourth in goals (16-6-22). One of the team's quickest players, she also finished second on the team in ground balls with 27 and third in draw controls with 20. Those were two areas where Christina Doherty also made a huge difference, as she led the team in both categories (36 draw controls, 32 ground balls). Her 36 draw controls were 15 more than anyone else on the team. Tall and fast, Doherty also contributed five goals and three assists. Erin Magnuson joined Doherty as the only midfielders to start all 15 games last year; Magnuson contributed six goals and two assists along with 21 ground balls. Emily Rutland appeared in five games, including one start.
Five freshmen add to Yale's midfield depth: Nicole Daniggelis (St. James, N.Y.), Britta Hjelm (Devon, Pa.), Kelly Anne Sherlock (Lloyd Harbor, N.Y.), Tori Virtue (Rye, N.Y.) and Lauren Wackerle (Arlington, Va.).
Daniggelis, who played with Sherlock on the Long Island Yellow Jackets Blue Team, holds the Smithtown East school record for most points with 277 (190 goals, 87 assists) even after missing half of sophomore year and all of junior year to injury. A five-year varsity starter, she was honorable mention all-county while in eighth grade. Last year she tied for the most points on Long Island (118) and led Suffolk County in goal scoring (76) in the regular season. She was second team All-Long Island.
Hjelm also racked up impressive numbers in high school, reaching 100 goals her junior year. She was a first team All-Central League and All-Mainline selection.
Sherlock, who like Hjelm ran track in high school, was all-county in lacrosse. She was also a Wendy's High School Heisman state finalist and an NYS Empire Team alternate. She played on the US Lacrosse School Girls National Tournament LI Metro team No. 1 and No. 2.
Virtue was an all-league and all-section honoree in high school. She led Rye to the New York state semi-finals last year.
Wackerle was a US Lacrosse first team All-American in addition to being first team all-state and All-ISL and honorable mention All-Met. She was among the leading scorers in the DC Metro region last year with 84 goals.
11 players (1 senior, 4 juniors, 2 sophomores, 4 freshmen)
4 returning starters (seven or more starts) from 2012
The lone senior defender is Adrianna Amendola. She brings 18 games of career experience after being limited by an injury early on in her career.
The Bulldogs will rely heavily on their four junior defenders, all of whom have starting experience. Ashley McCormick, one of the quickest Bulldogs, led the team with 15 caused turnovers and hustled her way to 20 ground balls. A former midfielder, McCormick can also produce offensively -- she scored four goals in the season opener last year. Kallie Parchman started all 15 games, just like McCormick, and totaled 13 ground balls while causing seven turnovers. Katherine Sherrill, winner of the team's most improved player award last year, started 14 games and caused seven turnovers. Adrienne Tarver, another defender with a midfielder background, started 14 games and frequently matched up against one of the opposing team's top scorers. She finished tied for second on the team in caused turnovers (11) and third on the team in ground balls (26).
The sophomore class includes Claire Curran and Jayne Flynn. Curran, an Under Armour All-American and US Lacrosse All-American in high school, appeared in two games last year. Flynn came back from an injury to appear in eight games, starting six.
The freshman class includes four defenders, all 5-foot-8 or taller: Flannery Carney (Baltimore, Md.), Maggie Moriarty (Glen Ridge, N.J.), Courtney Reilly (Manhasset, N.Y.) and Kate Walker (Baltimore, Md.).
Carney was an IAAM A-Conference All Star for Maryvale, which finished the season ranked No. 3 nationally. She was a 2012 Baltimore Sun Player to Watch.
Moriarty was part of a pair of Group 1 New Jersey state championships at Glen Ridge, where she led the team in draw controls. She was a member of the U19 North NJ School Girls team in 2011, and was first team All-Super Essex Conference twice.
Reilly, who played with Avallone and Fleishhacker at Manhasset High, was an honorable mention all-county selection last season while helping the team to a county co-championship. She earned the school's Sports Award at graduation for athletic ability and performance.
Walker, Yale's tallest defender at 5-11, was ranked the No. 11 best defender nationally by ESPN Rise last year. She was ranked No. 51 in the ESPNHS Girls Top 100 Class of 2012, and was an Under Armour Underclassmen All-Star in 2011.
2 players (1 junior, 1 sophomore)
1 returning starter (seven or more starts) from 2012
Sophomore Erin McMullan took over as the starting goalie for nine of the final 10 games of 2012, posting five double-digit save games in that span. She finished with a .448 save percentage and an 11.76 goals-against average. Her .548 save in Ivy League games led the league.
Another Erin, Erin Mullins, provides back up. Mullins, whose sister Caitlin played field hockey and lacrosse at Yale's Ivy League rival Columbia, won four straight New York State Class B Championships at Garden City.
Yale opens the 2013 season at Holy Cross Feb. 23. Four games against teams that were nationally ranked at the end of last season, and two against teams that made last year's NCAA Tournament, highlight the 2013 schedule. The 15-game slate includes seven Ivy League games and eight non-league games. This also marks the fourth year for the Ivy League women's lacrosse tournament, in which the top four teams in the final standings play for the league's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.