Feb. 23, 2006
Baltimore, Md. - The Loyola College women's lacrosse team opens its 2006 season Saturday, hosting the Blue Hens of the University of Delaware on Diane Geppi-Aikens Field at 12:00.
Here's a look at Loyola's season outlook:
Head coach Kerri O'Day and the Greyhounds have spent the off-season working hard to become a prominent team not only in their new conference, the BIG EAST but nationally.
Hampered by injuries and facing the toughest schedule in the country, Loyola finished last season a disappointing 5-11 but this season things are looking up with the return of two seniors who were forced to red-shirt in 2005 due to injury and a slew of talented players from last season's squad.
The Greyhounds return 20 active players from the 2005 team as well as Talia Shacklock and Stephanie Walker for a total of 22 returners. In addition, eight of 12 starters return. On the offensive end, 10 of the 13 goal scorers, who accounted for 88% of the goal production in 2005 return while defensively a majority of the core members of the unit are back.
Those 22 players will provide guidance to the nine freshmen added to this season's roster while together they offer a chemistry needed to make teams successful.
"This season we have consistent players on the field that gel well together," O'Day said. "They have played together for years, compliment each other well and are selfless on the field."
Here's a look at the Greyhounds position-by-position:
The attacking unit returns Sydney Greene, a senior 100-goal scorer who the Greyhounds will look to for experience and leadership. Greene has appeared in 53 games, earning 45 starts over her career and is always a threat for Loyola on offense.
"Sydney is a great one-on-one attacker with great accuracy," O'Day said. "This season we hope she'll improve her assisting skills as well to add another element to her game."
Greene's classmate, Chrissy Nicolaus will also contribute to the attack. Nicolaus is looking to have a break-out year in 2006. Last season, she saw her most extensive action yet, appearing in 15 games but O'Day sees 2006 as Nicolaus' chance to make her mark on the Loyola squad.
"Chrissy has solid attacking skills," O'Day said. "She knows how to get open, she knows how to find her teammates and compliment their play."
Another senior on the attacking end is 5-10 Katherine Sachs. Sachs will also look to post her best season yet in 2006.
"Katherine brings such determination and fire to our team," O'Day said. "We'll look to her for that this season."
Also adding to Loyola's experience on attack is sophomore Maura Kenny. Although she is just in her second season with the Greyhounds, Kenny is mature beyhond her years. In her rookie campaign she was third on the team in goals with 28 and scored multiple goals in eight of 15 games.
"Maura brings a different element to the attack as a lefty," O'Day said. "She's a sharp shooter and has great range in her shooting."
Sophomore Alicyn Brunnett will add height to the Greyhound attack. At 5-10, Brunnett appeared in two games last season and will build on that experience in 2006.
"Alicyn is really versatile," O'Day said. "She's a smart player with great stick skills."
The midfield unit for the Greyhounds may be their strongest with the depth and ability of the players returning.
Loyola returns two players to the midfield whose injuries forced them to sit out the 2005 season. Senior Talia Shacklock was not able to play at all in the 2005 while Stephanie Walker appeared in two games before an injury forced her into a medical red-shirt.
Shacklock, a two-time captain, started in all 55 games on Loyola's schedule from 2002-04. To date she has 87 career goals and six assists. Shacklock not only contributes on the attack but on defense and at the center draw. Over her time on the Evergreen campus, she has tallied 63 draw controls, 39 caused turnovers and 103 groundballs.
"Talia knows how to score when we need a goal," O'Day said. "She is really excited to be back playing this year and her passion will be passed on to the rest of the team."
Walker was with the Greyhounds to start last season but was sidelined by an ankle injury early in the second game of the year. Walker is a force for Loyola at every spot on the field with 71 goals and 13 assists over her career while adding 79 groundballs, 67 draw controls and 22 caused turnovers. She's key to the Greyhounds transition and her size gives her an advantage over most opponents.
"Steph's dependable all over the field," O'Day said. "She's consistent in starting our transition for us defensively and can finish it offensively."
Leading returning scorer, Kate McHarg will join Shacklock and Walker at midfield. 2005 was McHarg's break-out year as she scored 58 goals to lead the Greyhounds. McHarg was named a second-team All-America selection for her efforts and is no doubt a possible All-America candidate again in 2006.
"Kate is a driving force on our team," O'Day said. "She's a leader that brings passion and excitement to every game. She wants the ball in her stick."
Sophomore Kate Filippelli, like classmate Kenny, is another Greyhound who is mature beyond her years. Like Kenny, Filippelli was a starter on last year's squad. Filippelli contributes on both ends of the field having scored 18 goals in 2005 while recording 15 cause turnovers, 38 groundballs and 20 draw controls. Filipelli led the Loyola squad in groundballs while coming in second in caused turnovers.
"Kate gives 110% on both ends," O'Day said. "She's a good take away defender but is also a threat on offense."
Liz Peregoy, a returning starting defensive midfielder, started in all 16 games last season. She is a regular in the center for the Greyhounds, finishing last season with a team-second 36 draw controls. Peregoy, a junior, also recorded 22 groundballs and 10 caused turnovers in 2005.
"Liz gets the little things done," O'Day said. "She's a natural leader and competitor with great athleticism."
Sophomores Courtney Arnold, Bridget Zingler and Emily Lawrence also return to the midfield where they contributed as rookies. They appeared in 22 games between them last year and scored a total of 11 goals.
"Courtney is a consistent defender," O'Day said. "She sees the field well and will give us depth."
"Bridget is so passionate," O'Day. "She plays so much bigger than her size and is smart on defense."
"Emily is probably one of our most athletic players," O'Day said. "She's always improving her game."
The Greyhounds return the backbone of the Greyhound defense beginning with keeper Cindy Nicolaus. Nicolaus has played the second half of every game the Greyhounds have played during her career and this season she will earn the start. Nicolaus is experienced, having played nearly 1,600 minutes in goal in her career and posting a career goals against average of 9.42. She finished her freshman season first in the country in saves percentage and sixth in goals against average. Nicolaus also posted the nations second best goals against average as a sophomore.
"Cindy is the backbone of our defense," O'Day said. "She has great experience and is a great leader for us and also understands the game."
Another senior returning with a great deal of experience is captain Laura Carper. Carper has been a starter for the Greyhounds the past two seasons. From that position she recorded a team-best 19 caused turnovers last season in addition to 36 groundballs.
"Laura is a cornerstone of the defensive unit," O'Day said. "Her leadership and understanding of other teams' offense make her invaluable."
Kristin McKay adds to the defensive units experience, having started in 13 games last season despite being hampered by injuries. In those 13 games, she recorded 30 groundballs, six draw controls and five caused turnovers. McKay has a great deal of speed which helps the Greyhounds in transition.
"Kristin is a strong one-on-one player," O'Day said. "She brings a lot of excitement to the field for the defense."
Sophomore Kristen Stone earned a starting position as a freshman were she contributed all over the field. She scored two goals and two assists from her defensive spot in addition to her 27 groundballs, 11 caused turnovers and 10 draw controls.
"Kristen is similar to Carper in that she is a cornerstone of our defense," O'Day said. "In her short time with this team, she is an amazing leader and her teammates look to her for direction."
Emilie Patterson is another senior who will look for this season to be her time to shine. Patterson moves to the defensive unit this year and will be looking to get more playing time in her final year as a Greyhound.
"Emilie is a smart one-on-one defender with good skills," O'Day said. "She can help us in our transition."
The Greyhounds schedule shows one clear difference this season, conference games. Loyola, an independent the last three seasons, will participate in the BIG EAST this year which includes games against Rutgers, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Connecticut and Georgetown.
Overall, Loyola hosts eight of its 15 regular season games on Diane Geppi-Aikens Field. The Greyhounds open the season at home versus Delaware on February 25 and also host Princeton (March 8), Rutgers (March 12), James Madison (March 22), Syracuse (April 8), Connecticut (April 12), Stanford (April 22) and Towson (April 25).
Away contests include local rival UMBC (February 28), North Carolina (March 3), Hofstra (March 26), George Mason (March 29), Penn State (April 2) and Georgetown (April 29). In addition to those contests, the Greyhounds and the Fighting Irish will face of in West Palm Beach on March 16 for a televised BIG EAST match-up.