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Women’s Lacrosse Begins 2014 Campaign Saturday
Bearcats host Howard for first-ever meeting Saturday at 3 p.m.
February 21, 2014Tweet
Contact: Terrence Lollie (email@example.com)
The Binghamton women’s lacrosse team will look to make the next step in 2014 led by a youth-driven team of 17 underclassmen. After losing eight seniors, all starters at some points in their careers, the Bearcats welcome 11 newcomers including 10 freshmen. Though second-year head coach Stephanie Allen’s team is young, they may be the group to propel Binghamton to it’s first-ever America East postseason berth.
“We fully expect and intend on playing on May 2,” Allen said of the America East Championship which begins on May 2. “Our job now is to compete and play at a competitive level in our non-conference games and be as prepared as possible for America East play at the end of March. We plan to be a different team with a different attitude this year.”
Allen named a pair of seniors and one junior team captains prior to a very productive fall season headlined by Erica Foley, the sole fourth-year player on the roster. Joining Foley is second-year transfer Angela Vespa and two-year starter Alex Fisher. The trio has combined for a total of 64 games played and possesses the bulk of Binghamton’s experience.
“While we have high expectations for this season, it’s all about building a strong foundation for the future. We are excited that this group will get to play with each other for a number of years. We expect our freshmen to step up this year and get some valuable playing experience.”
Captains Vespa, Fisher Lead Attack Line
Vespa and Fisher will be two of Binghamton’s more experienced producers combining for 26 points in 2013. Vespa recorded a team-high seven assists in just 11 games while Fisher netted seven goals, third most among returning players. Sophomore Sophie Racciatti had a productive freshman campaign with 10 goals and will help fill the absence of Katherine Hunsberger in the draw circle. Classmate Marissa Rose (5 points) rounds out the veteran portion of the attack line.
“We return strong experience in Vespa and Fisher as well as Racciatti. I think what is going to be different this year will be the ball distribution. We won’t be relying on one person to put the ball in the back of the net or one person to feed, our offense will be more fluid.”
Allen introduces three freshmen and one junior transfer all of which will be expected to provide a burst during the season. Brianne Arthur (Watertown, N.Y./Watertown), Liz Hoeffner (Rockville Center, N.Y./South Side), Samantha Karner (Carmel, N.Y./Mahopac) and Quinnipiac transfer Brianna Russo (Middletown, N.Y./Minisink Valley) create a variety of options for the Binghamton offense.
“This year will witness some younger and new faces making an impact. Bri (Arthur) is a dynamic player that is a threat both passing and scoring. Liz (Hoeffner) is a very skilled player with a great stick. She has the ability to fire shots past goalies. Sam (Karner) displayed an ability to excel in the draw circle during fall ball so she will provide depth in that aspect.”
New-Look Midfield Rebuilds After Loses To Graduation
Binghamton will have to replace one of its finest players in program history in Hunsberger and dynamic linemate Kristen Stone who led a midfield line that accounted for 59 of the Bearcats’ 146 goals in 2013. America East All-Rookie Team selection Allie Rodgers will look to step up and provide leadership after totaling 13 points in 10 starts last season. Junior Renee Kiviat, a 2012 All-Rookie selection, has played in 30 career games and will look to provide experience in the draw circle.
“We lost some major pieces from last season so there will be a few new faces on the field but with a new dynamic. Having Renee (Kiviat) back will help tremendous. She is a leader on the field directing both the offense and the defense. Allie has really developed her defensive game and she has developed into more of a lock-down defender.”
Freshmen Valerie DeNapoli (Hewlett, N.Y./G.W. Hewlett), Jocelyn Penteck (Floral Park, N.Y./Floral Park Memorial) and Callion Williams (Orangeville, Ontario/The Hill Academy) will all see action for a unit that lost three starters to graduation.
“All of the freshmen midfielders have shown the ability to be strong contributors. Callon (Williams) brings a sense of urgency to the field and plays with a lot of heart. Her work ethic elevates the energy and passion of the team. Val (DeNapoli) is a true athlete that possesses sharp transition skills and will be a force on the defensive end. Jocelyn (Penteck) is more of a defensive middie with the talents to work herself into a threat on the offensive side of the ball.”
Foley To Step Into Defensive Leader Role
With the departure of four-year starting defender Kristin Pennino and two-year starter Lena Amalfitano, Foley will be asked fulfill the leadership duties of Allen’s defense. Along with new assistant coach Allison Daley, Allen has installed a new defensive philosophy and will look to Foley to lead a young group of defenders. Of sophomores Julide Giray, Kelsey Michele and Alex Szelewski only Michele has any game experience with six starts. Junior Rachel Antelmi started in a pair of contests in 2013.
“It is a new look for us on the defensive end. We have added more speed and are playing a higher-pressure defense than in past years. I think it’s exciting of what we are going to do on the defense. Alex (Szelewski)and Julide (Giray) are competing like they have four years of experience which is refreshing to see.”
A trio of newcomers Sharon Bossert (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown West), Caroline Fraylick (Pleasantville, N.Y./Pleasantville) and Amanda Marsh (Syracuse, N.Y./East Syracuse Minoa) offer Allen and Daley depth and speed while the implementation of the new defense evolves.
Battle In Net Gives Allen Multiple Options
Goalie is the only position on the field that was not affected by graduation. A pair of veterans will vie for the starting position in goal as junior Kara Pafumi and sophomore Erin McNulty battle for the nod. McNulty, an America East All-Rookie Team selection last season, played the majority of minutes (581) in 2013, but Pafumi played in eight games with four starts. As a freshman, Pafumi started all 16 games for Binghamton after being the sole goalie on the roster. In 2012, Pafumi logged over 900 minutes in goal.
“We have good competition in the cage with Erin (McNulty) and Kara (Pafumi). I think at this point we would feel comfortable with any one of our goalies in cage. They each have their own style and bring something different to the field. Erin is very active and athletic, while Kara is a smart and sound goalie between the pipes.”
Freshman Shannon Knapp is Coach Daley’s third option at goalie. The first-year assistant and former Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Defender of the Year at Canisius will help the development of Knapp as she provides depth to one of the most important positions on the field.
“Shannon has incredibly fast hands and brings a different stature to the position that the other two do not possess. And coach Daley has brought a ton of energy to the defense and has an effective way of articulating our new scheme. She has been vital in making our goalkeepers much more involved in our defense. The defense will look to take more risks and help jump-start the offense.”
Schedule Features 8 Homes Games, Opens at Home on Feb. 22
The Bearcats are slated for 16 games, including its earliest season-opener in program history. Binghamton will play 11 non-conference contests in addition to its five-game America East schedule. The Bearcats open the season at home against the Washington, D.C.-based Howard University on February 22. It is the first-ever meeting between Binghamton and the Atlantic Sun school.
“We aren’t on the road a ton this year and have very few over-nights which helps with attrition. We’ve added some strong Patriot League (Lehigh, Lafayette) competition which will aid our preparation for conference play. Also the matchup with defending MAAC Champion Canisius will be special for us since that’s the alma mater of coach Daley.”
Following its opener, Binghamton heads to Pennsylvania for a pair of matchups with Patriot League members Lehigh (Feb. 25) and Lafayette (March 1). Allen’s team returns to Vestal five days later for its longest homestand of the season as Binghamton welcomes Niagara (March 6), St. Bonaventure (March 8) and Cornell (March 12) to the Bearcats Sports Complex.
The Bearcats come off its homestand with a three-games-in-seven-days stretch that features a meeting with defending MAAC champion and NCAA tournament participant Canisius on March 17 in Buffalo. Binghamton then heads to the state capital to face Siena (March 20) before returning to the Southern Tier to host Quinnipiac (March 23).
The Bearcats open America East play with a trip to the state capital for a meeting with SUNY rival Albany on March 29. Binghamton then heads home to host the defending America East champions Stony Brook on April 6. Albany and Stony Brook have combined for the past three conference titles.
“The America East is a challenging conference with several high-caliber programs. But I think the good thing is, that we’ve seen the landscape change drastically over the past few years and we think it’s capable of changing again. We’ve been knocking on the door the past few years and we hope to breakthrough this season. ”
A trip to New Hampshire follows a difficult start to conference play as the Bearcats and Wildcats meet on April 12. Binghamton then plays its final non-conference contest of the year when the Bearcats host Colgate on April 16. Binghamton’s final two games of 2014 are at Vermont (April 19) and home versus UMBC (April 26).
The America East Championship will take place May 2-4 with the top four teams in the final conference standings advancing to the postseason. The regular season champion will be the host site for the conference championship.