Feb. 21, 2005
After adding to Loyola's continued success in women's lacrosse last season with their ninth consecutive and 12th overall trip to the NCAA Tournament, head coach Kerri O'Day and the Greyhounds will look to build upon that experience and add to the Loyola tradition in 2005.
"We are balanced and deep with a lot of players returning," O'Day said. "We hope to compete against each opponent this season and build upon last year's success."
With an experienced senior class of eight players and 21 total players returning, O'Day has reason to be hopeful. Loyola returns its top four scorers from the 2004 season. Sydney Greene, Rachel Shuck, Talia Shacklock and Stephanie Walker combined for 124 goals and 178 points last season. They accounted for over 60% of the Greyhounds' scoring efforts in 2004. O'Day also has an added bonus of two fifth-year seniors with Shuck and Lawton to add extra leadership.
In addition to their experience at attack, the Greyhounds are balanced on all areas of the field.
The midfield and defensive unit return relatively in tact with plenty of depth to fill in the gaps. Senior Erin Cyphers and junior Laura Carper are both returning starters for Loyola on defense where the Greyhounds spent much of 2004 ranked nationally in scoring defense. At midfield, the experience of Shacklock and Walker will give Loyola size and experience.
Finally, in goal, O'Day has two of the top goalies in the country back for their third season together. Kim Lawton and Cindy Nicolaus have both spent time ranked among the national leaders in their careers.
Here is a break down of the Greyhounds, position-by-position:
The Greyhounds have nearly all of their scoring power returning from last season including their top two scorers at attack. Rachel Shuck and Sydney Greene are the perfect compliment to each other as the top two scores with Shuck leading in assists and Greene in goals.
"Our attack with our midfield unit returns a great deal of experience," O'Day said. "They have played together for several seasons and we hope that chemistry and unity will continue to develop."
Shuck, a fifth-year senior captain will look to lead the attack. Shuck, who already holds the Loyola record for assists in a career, is the quarterback of the group. Last season she scored 17 goals while dishing out 34 assists for her career total of 86 assists. Shuck finished last season ranked fifth in the nation in assists per game and was named as an All-America selection for the second consecutive season.
"Rachel is the core of our attacking unit," O'Day said. "She is a mature, seasoned attacker and we expect her to continue to perform as well as compliment her teammates."
Greene was Loyola's leading scorer in 2004 as a sophomore. Her play has developed at an astounding rate with career totals of 66 goals, 17 assists and 83 points in just two seasons. Greene also earned All-America honors in 2004, a first for her.
"As a returning two-year starter, Sydney has big game experience under her belt," O'Day said. "I look forward to seeing her game develop further over the next two seasons."
Also returning to the attack is senior Katie Guarino. Guarino adds leadership to an already strong unit with 36 games played in her career. Guarino started in two contests while appearing in all 18 games last season. She scored a seasonal career-high five goals.
"Katie has quality leadership capabilities as a senior member of our team," O'Day said. "She compliments her teammates well and has a great understanding of the eight meter."
Chrissy Nicolaus, Emilie Patterson, Katherine Sachs and Sarah Boggs add depth and experience as juniors while freshmen Maura Kenny, Katie McHugh, Courtney Arnold and Alicyn Brunnett will look to contribute as well.
Loyola's midfield has strength in numbers as well as experience. Three starters from the 2004 squad return in addition to four players who will add depth to the group.
"At midfield, we have great speed and field vision," O'Day said. "We are going use those abilities to our advantage and look to push the fast break this season."
Talia Shacklock will look to lead the midfield as a senior captain. She finished last season third in scoring with 35 goals and two assists. As a three-year starter, Shacklock has scored 87 goals in her career and has a total of 93 points. She also was a leader in ground ball pick ups last season. Shacklock is one of two current Loyola players on the Australian National Team who will play in the World Cup this summer.
"Talia brings so much to the table: speed, aggressive play, leadership," O'Day said. "She's got terrific game sense and presence on the field."
Stephanie Walker, another senior member of the midfield unit finished last season fourth in overall scoring with 29 goals and five assists. Walker, at 5-9 is also a presence on the defensive end and in the circle as she picked up 32 groundballs, won 28 draw controls and caused nine turnovers.
"Steph has such speed and size that give her an edge," O'Day said. "She has developed into a real asset for us on both ends of the field."
Kate McHarg also returns to the midfield unit where she appeared in all 18 games and started in four in 2004. She scored five goals and tallied four assists in her rookie season as well as leading Loyola on the draw with 30 draw controls. McHarg, like Shacklock also made the Australian World Cup team this winter.
"Kate has such strength and versatility," O'Day said. "Her play is also key in transition as well as on attack and the defensive end."
Despite losing All-America defender Tara Singleton and three-year starter Kristi Korrow, the Loyola defense will remain as strong as it's been in years past. The Greyhounds thrive as a defensive unit where they rank nationally in scoring defense.
"We are strongest at defense this season and are lucky to have so much experience return on defense," O'Day said. "Their communication and hard work has built a great deal of trust amongst the team."
Erin Cyphers is a returning starter as a senior this season. Cyphers is a strong one-on-one defender that provides leadership to the squad where she caused 13 turnovers and picked up 22 ground balls in 2004.
"Erin is the core of our defensive unit,"O'Day said. "She is the most verbal player on defense and has an uncanny ability to cause turnovers."
Laura Carper is another returning starter on defense as a junior. She recorded 20 groundballs and 11 caused turnovers in 2004. Carper has great experience from last season and will look to build upon that in 2004.
"Carper has great awareness and communication skills," O'Day said. She sees opponents' plays unfolding and has the abilities to make stops."
Sarah and Liz Hannan will also add senior leadership to the defensive group.
"Sarah has developed into a solid one-on -one defender," O'Day said. "She returns with experience and her help defense will make her an asset to us."
"Liz has great communication and supporting defenders skills," O'Day said. "She closes double teams well and gives us experience at the defensive end."
Kristen McKay is a junior who appeared in all 18 games last season. In 2004, as a relief player she contributed 18 ground balls, seven draw controls and six caused turnovers.
"McKay is a strong one-on-one defender with quick feet," O'Day said. "She has the potential to make an solid impact on the defensive end."
For the past two seasons, Loyola had great strength in goal. The tandem of senior Kim Lawton and junior Cindy Nicolaus have worked together to give the Greyhounds one of the lowest goals against averages in the country in both 2003 and 2004 and will look to do the same in 2005.
Lawton is back for a fifth season with Loyola. She has appeared in 42 games over her career while starting in 37 of those contests. In 1,164 minutes of play, Lawton averages 6.65 goals against. She finished last season as the nations leader in saves percentage at .596 and second in the country in goals against average at 7.22.
"Kim is a solid, strong goalkeeper with great leadership skills," O'Day said. "She has developed into a really good clearer and plays extremely composed outside the cage."
Nicolaus has appeared in the second half of every Loyola game since she joined the squad in 2003. With 27 games under her belt, Nicolaus has also posted numbers in the national ranks. In 2004 she ranked just behind Lawton in saves percentage at .586 and was 19th in the country in goals against average at 9.11. As a freshman, Nicolaus led the country in save percentage and finished sixth in goals against average.
"Cindy is very quick and aggressive in the cage but has developed a comfort zone outside the cage as well," O'Day said.
The duo have split time in the cage for two seasons with Lawton earning the start and Nicolaus taking over in the second half.
"Kim and Cindy continue to push each other and having Linda Ohrin on staff has really helped them to improve and advance their play," O'Day said.
Loyola opens the season by hosting three home games, starting with local opponent UMBC. The Retrievers had been a regular as the Greyhounds opening contest from 2000-2003. North Carolina and Hofstra also visit Geppi-Aikens Field in the first week of March.
The Greyhounds hit the road after that with four straight away games, including a first-ever trip to Boston University. Also included in the road swing will be Delaware, Princeton and James Madison. All four teams have spent time in the national rankings over the years, giving Loyola some tough competition.
George Mason and Penn State visit Geppi-Aikens Field to close March and open April before the Greyhounds travel to future Big East conference opponent Syracuse. Loyola will join the Big East in 2006 while the Orange is already a member.
A trip to North Carolina to visit Duke follows before the Greyhounds return home to host Penn and Stanford. Loyola has visited the Cardinal on the West Coast in the past two seasons and they are returning the favor.
Loyola makes a short trip up the road to visit Towson for the only night game on the schedule at the end of April.
The Greyhounds close the 2005 schedule with the always competitive Cavaliers of Virginia and Terrapins of Maryland.