Feb. 23, 2004
In Kerri Johnson's first year as head coach, she couldn't ask for much more than what she has. A staff of all former Loyola women's lacrosse players, a roster of players with a wealth of experience; most as members of 2003's No. 1 team in the country and a schedule eerily similar to the one played in 2003.
Johnson, a 1997 graduate and former All-America selection herself, has three former Loyola players and All-American lacrosse selections on her staff in her rookie season as head coach. Former teammate Krystin Porcella '98, Stacey Morlang '03 and Marianne Gioffre '02 are all on board to assist Johnson this year.
Loyola returns 22 of her 34 players from the 2003 squad that set a school record for wins with 17, was ranked No. 1 in the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Association for eight of 10 weeks during the season and earned their first ever No. 1 seed entering the national tournament. Four of the Greyhounds five leading scorers return with at least three of their five top defensive players and both goalkeepers.
The offensive unit is more balanced than it has been in the past with maturity and experience giving the Greyhounds an edge. They have speed and size at every position as well as on the bench.
At midfield, the squad is extremely athletic and fast. The entire group has the ability to take the ball to the cage as well as defend.
Johnson's schedule this season posts all the same opponents as 2003 with the addition of Duke.
Although the Greyhounds lost leading scorer Suzanne Eyler to graduation, they return the top remaining scorers, four at the attack unit.
Rachel Shuck has posted outstanding numbers throughout her Loyola career, leading the team in assists last season with an astounding 38, good enough for fourth in the nation at an average of two per game. Shuck also added 24 goals for a total of 62 points in 2003 and a grand total of 91 points in her two-year playing career. She is certainly on track to break the record for assists in a career.
Shuck is the team's "quarterback". "Rachel has complete control of the field and the tempo of our game," Johnson said. "She is a smart player and sees the complete field."Jen Schuerholz will return to the attack unit after scoring 11 goals and adding three assists in 2003. Schuerholz scored goals in pivotal games last season including a win over Maryland, Penn State and in the NCAA Tournament over UMBC.
"Jen plays hard every minute she's on the field," Johnson said. "She is an emotional but extremely composed player who goes hard to the cage every time and has great stick work."
After an extremely productive fall season, Jaclyn Borrone is one of Loyola's strongest returners in 2004. In 2003, Borrone was crucial in a 14-10 win over Syracuse with three goals as well single goals in tight games against Towson and Penn State. Borrone is one on Loyola's strongest midfield players. Her strength, speed and size give her a one up on most of her defenders.
"Jackie has the potential to be one of the best attackers in the country this season," Johnson said. "She is a confident and composed player who plays with alot of excitement and emotion Jackie will be one of our go-to players because of her focus and drive."
Talia Shacklock is the Greyhounds second leading midfield-attacker returning in 2004. Just a junior this season, she more than doubled her career goal totals with 34 in 2003. She is Loyola's top returning goal scorer and is a player to watch this coming season.
"Talia is the key to our offensive transition," Johnson said. "She knows where to be and when to be there; Talia is always in the right place at the right time."
Sophomore Sydney Greene is another top performer returning to the attack unit. Greene had a blow-out rookie season, posting 30 goals and five assists and starting in 13 of the teams 19 games. She may be a young player but has a wealth of experience under her belt.
"Sydney is a playmaker, undoubtedly," Johnson said. "There are going to be many situations where we want the ball in her stick because she can see the defense and knows how to break it down and score."
Another returning attacker is junior Katie Guarino. Guarino appeared in 16 games in 2003, scoring four goals and adding two assists. She spent the fall abroad, studying in Thailand and the coaching staff is excited about her return. She is a good cutter and often finds herself on the receiving end of a pass.
"Katie sees the eight meter very well," Johnson said. "She adds another dimension to our attack with her ability to feed and set up her teammates as well as attacking the cage herself."
Also adding depth to the attackers is sophomores Sarah Boggs and Chrissy Nicolaus. Both gained valuable experience in 2003, playing in six and nine games respectively. Boggs is a strong, athletic player while Nicolaus is an outstanding cutter who is quick on her feet and great at getting open.
This season Korrow will look to do more on the attacking end than in the past after scoring nine goals and adding five assists in 2003. She was also first in groundballs (63) and in draw controls (30). Korrow is a quiet leader on the team who leads by example. She has terrific anticipation and game sense to allow her to score as well as defend.
"Kristi is a smart player," Johnson said. "She just knows where to be on the field at all times, she has great field vision and game sense. Kristi plays both ends of the field extremely well."
Porcella scored three goals and four assists in '03 in addition to her 48 groundballs, 28 draw controls and 33 caused turnovers. She is an all-around defender that can stop the one-on-one, deny cuts and out run her opponent.
"Kourtney is smart in transition and has the ability to score," Johnson said. "Both she and Kristi will be keys to our success on both ends of the field."
Stephanie Walker is another key returner for the Greyhounds as a junior. Walker is Loyola's second leading returning goal scorer with 30 goals in addition to five assists in 2003. She also took most of the draw controls last season, winning 27 on the year. Walker may see more time on the defensive midfield this season and like Korrow and Porcella will be key in Loyola's transition.
"Steph has a presence on the field," Johnson. "She dominates the midfield with speed and strength. She will be key to our transition attack."
Sarah and Liz Hannan will earn playing time this year after being moved from the attack unit to midfield defense.
"Sarah is a solid midfielder with great attacking skills," Johnson said.
"Liz is a great one-on-one defender," Johnson said. "She slides well and has good stick skills."
Singleton is one of Loyola's top returning defenders and a captain in 2004. She picked up 42 groundballs and caused a team-high 38 turnovers last season. She's a scrappy player that is great at denying passes and mark-ups.
"Tara is the vocal leader of our team this season," Johnson said. "On and off the field, she supports this team."
Erin Cyphers is a junior who has worked hard in the off-season. She is a tough defender who always gets the job done.
"Erin is a hard worker and is dedicated," Johnson said. "She is very athletic and could earn a starting position for us."
Sophomores Kristin McKay and Laura Carper also have the ability to start for the Greyhound defense in the spring. McKay has quickness and strength in addition to her experience in 2002 will give her an edge. Carper has great anticipation and game sense that will separate her from the crowd.
The Greyhounds have an uncommon problem in goal. They return two players who shared time in goal in 2003. Senior Kim Lawton and freshman Cindy Nicolaus shared time in goal, with Lawton starting and Nicolaus playing every second half.
"We have two of the best goalies in the country," Johnson said. "They are different in style and size but both have the experience and skill to start for us or any other Division I team."
Lawton played 570 minutes en route to posting the nation's best goals against average at 5.37. She was second in saves percentage at 61.9% while posting a 17-2 overall record.
"Kim is fundamentally sound," Johnson said. "She is very composed and confident in goal."
Nicolaus played a total of 576:55 minutes, with overtime at Princeton and accumulated the best saves percentage in the country at 62.6%. She also finished just a few spots nationally behind Lawton in GAA at 7.07.
"Cindy is unbelievably quick in the cage," Johnson said. "She has great instincts and quickness."
Loyola opens the season at Penn in late February before hitting local opponent UMBC on the road and North Carolina in the first week of March. Princeton will come to Baltimore on March 7 for the renaming of Curley Field to Diane Geppi-Aikens Field. The Greyhounds will then host Delaware before visiting Hoftsra on March 12 and 14th respectively. Boston University will visit for the second time in as many years on March 19, just before local rival Towson on the 21st. Former Colonial Athletic Association foe, James Madison will travel to the Evergreen on March 26, before the Greyhounds travel to two more former CAA-opponents, William & Mary and George Mason. To open April, Loyola will travel to Penn State on the third before hosting Duke on the ninth. The Greyhounds will hit the road for the last time in the regular season to visit Virginia on April 17th and fly out west to visit Stanford on the 24th. To close the regular season, Loyola will host Maryland (May 1) and Syracuse (May 8).