PREVIEW: Time is here for women's lacrosse
February 26, 2013
~ Senior Kelli Jo Haley ~
It’s time for the Wilmington College women’s lacrosse team to make its debut on the Williams Stadium turf. The program has several players getting newly acquainted to the sport itself, but none who are strangers to representing Quaker athletics on the intercollegiate level.
Many soccer players have stepped up to the challenge of adding to the team's arsenal. Head coach Brett Yenger expects this will provide some much needed depth in offering a unique repertoire to how women's lacrosse will embark on building the character of the program.
“I’m impressed with how the soccer players have picked up the game and learned the skills so quickly,” said Yenger. “They have not only improved our skills, but displayed to my inexperienced athletes what speed we need to compete.”
The first year coach is also moved with how quickly everyone is picking up the concepts and skills of the game which allows the team to move on to more advanced strategies as the season continues.
“I think the first game will be a shock to the team as they learn the live action and rules of the game, but I’m not worried about how they will pick up the game play and adapt to the situations,” said Yenger. “They are learning strategy to help with their lack of experience in lacrosse.”
Wilmington will have a man-to-man concept which they are learning fast, but struggle at times when it comes to slides and helping. This will be a point of emphasis as the Quakers begin the season.
“We need to learn how to mesh with each other, but defining their positions will help them realize with who they will be coordinating defense,” said Yenger. “I truly believe that covering the ball will not be an issue for us, but when it comes to an opposing offense that can move the ball we might get into a little trouble. However, I think after a few possessions, we will pick up what we need to help each other out and understand that help can be obtained by communicating. Communicating will be the key to our defensive success.”
Senior captain Stephanie Graham (Cincinnati, OH/Little Miami) adds leadership to the defense, as she is a natural commander and communicator on the field. Graham takes charge to cover offense, and the Quakers will look to clear the ball through her play.
Freshman Stephanie Belz (Gahanna, OH/Lincoln) is a smart defensive player, who is excellent at ground balls, a skill which will be utilized throughout the season as she is willing to go out and defend the ball.
Wilmington's attack is simply direct, but fast paced.
“If we get the ball, we are looking to shoot and score, not complicate things with plays and offenses,” she said. “Our offense is great at taking charge, running in and getting the shot off. I need them to control the pace of the game. If we can get a lead, then I feel comfortable with them slowing things down, but until then, we are going head first into our offensive end with a mission.”
The Quakers have players who can take care of the ball and get a good shot on goal which is the game plan at this point in the season. The attack is blessed with speed on offense and that will be an advantage, especially if they can win the ball off the draw.
Junior Sammy Koerner (Fairfield, OH/Hamilton Badin), a member of the WC soccer team, moves well on offense, drives hard to goal and contains a great shot. Koerner will be a significant offensive factor as she is expected to produce scoring opportunities as well as be a main source of goal production.
Freshman Katelyn Straley (Clarksville, OH/Wilmington), a secure ball handler has the unique ability to protect the ball and brings an element of calmness and comfort to maintaining possession. She adapts to situations when needed, reads the game well and will be a huge contributor to the Quaker's offensive success.
Just as the attack possess speed, the midfield is blessed with the same desired quality. Yenger projects the midfield to be a vital piece to Wilmington scoring from fast breaks.
“If we can get the draw control and control the ball, we will score every time,” said Yenger. “I don’t think that, despite our small numbers, anyone will be able to keep up with us in the midfield. Midfield is our strongest position right now. I have girls in the midfield, who can not only run, but run fast. They are my most competitive players, who won’t let another team get the ball. I have complete faith that if my midfielders get the ball that it will end with a goal.”
Junior Rachel Gutowski (Petoskey, MI/Petoskey), also a soccer player, is capable of anything and a versatile addition as she fits in any position on the field. She is a true competitor, who is very skilled with her stick and adds what any coach loves in a player; being appropriately aggressive, an effective communicator and leader by example.
Senior Sarah Watters (Cincinnati, OH/Turpin) is thus far the only “lacrosse-experienced” player. She is quick and possesses a tremendous amount of energy and endurance which Yenger is expects to translate in to many draw battles won for Wilmington.
Senior Kelli Jo Haley (Wilmington, OH/Wilmington) has a great attitude and is a natural midfielder with endurance to compete at the highest level. She is a cerebral player with a healthy appetite for competition which allows her to step in to any position on the field and fill in any role necessary.
Significant contributions from Emelie Folkunger (Kristianstad, Dweden/Osterang Gymnasiet), Heidi Florea (Martinsville, OH/Wilmington), Kelly Gates (Junction City, OH/New Lexington), Tori Vlcek (Springfield, OH/Springfield), Angie Phillips (Dayton, OH/Northmont), Rachel Routzong (Urbana, OH/Urbana), a swimming athlete, and goalkeeper Karalyne Brown (Somerset, NJ/Franklin), a member of the women's basketball team, are needed from these ladies to mark a stamp on establishing women's lacrosse at Wilmington College.
The inaugural schedule was formulated to get experience early in the season from other newly formed teams and more established programs towards the end of the season to observe, examine and analyze our progress continuing in to next season.
“I based our schedule on having new players, who have never experienced the game, so I looked for teams who were in similar situations this year,” said Yenger. “I wanted to throw in a couple established teams to give my players an idea of what we are striving for and building up to and beyond in the future seasons. I am excited about the upcoming seasons and have no doubt that we can be competitive this year.”