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2007 BINGHAMTON WOMEN'S LACROSSE SEASON PREVIEW

The Binghamton women's lacrosse team opens the 2007 season, its sixth as an intercollegiate program, on the road against the Sacred Heart University on Sunday, February 25 at 1:00 p.m. in Fairfield, CT.

OUTLOOK

For the Binghamton University women's lacrosse this spring, it's all about confidence. With 11 of 12 starters back from last year's squad and seven talented newcomers on board, the Bearcats head into 2007 focused and more determined than ever to the take the next step as a program.

"This is far and away the most productive preseason we've ever had in my three seasons here," said third-year head coach Emily Edmonston. "This is most confident and prepared we've felt headed into a season opener. Our program is still young, but the tools are in place to succeed."

The Bearcats tied a program-record for wins a season ago, finishing 4-13, and for the first time notched a pair of back-to-back victories. The road to success for the Bearcat women, Edmonston believes, begins with fostering a winning mentality.

"The key for us is keeping a consistent mentality," said Edmonston. "We have the ability and the opportunity is there if we continue to believe in ourselves and really want it."

Bolstered by a third recruiting class and a bevy of veteran senior leadership, Edmonston believes the team is on its path. "We are more fit and have more speed than we've ever had here before. Everyone has stepped up their game, we have a ton of depth and new talented players."

ATTACK
For a team that had a program-record seven double-figure goal scorers in 2006, this year's edition figures to be even more versatile. Six of Binghamton’s top seven scorers and 85 percent of its scoring output returns from a season ago.

"I expect to see the wealth of scoring continue increasing versatile," Edmonston says. "Everybody on that unit feels confident going to goal."

The poised and experienced senior attacking duo of Heather Grose (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) and Danielle Edwards (Horseheads, N.Y.) highlight the Bearcats' frontline. Grose netted a team-high 23 goals and finished second with 33 points. Her 66 goals and 90 career points rank second in school history.

Edwards, BU's second leading scorer in 2006, registered 20 markers on the year, including a team- and career-best five-goal effort in BU's upset victory over American University. As a sophomore, she scored a school-record 33 goals en route garnering second-team all-conference honors.

"Both Heather and Danielle combine a great ability to pass the ball in addition to her top-flight stick skills," said Edmonston. "This group, along with several midfielders who will jump in the offensive zone, give us an offense that can compete with the best in the conference."

The pair will be joined by promising recruit Tracy Weinstein (East Islip, N.Y.), who figures to make an immediate impact. A speedy 5-2 attacker, Weinstein has a great work rate to compliment her creative playmaking.

Junior Kristen Marsjanik (Webster, N.Y.) is expected to take on an increased role in the rotation, coming off a career-best 13 goals in 2006. Of Marsjanik's finishes, perhaps none were more memorable than her game-winning tally with less than a second remaining in BU's 12-11 win over Iona.

Also in the mix up front, sophomore Lindsay Feller (Mahopac, N.Y.) and newcomer Erika Travis (Geneva, N.Y.) will see increased playing time as the season progresses.

MIDFIELD
Senior tri-captain and three-year starter Anna Riordan (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) headlines a deep and talented Bearcats midfield unit. A gifted offensive talent with excellent field vision, Riordan has scored in double-digits in each of the last three years. She added a team-best 29 draw controls and 41 ground balls to her 2006 totals.

In the midfield, one of the key challenges the Bearcats face early on is to make up for the production lost through the departure of graduating senior Lauren Wetherell, the most prolific playmaker in the program's five-year history.

This production will come from the junior Leanne Musso (Auburn, N.Y.) and sophomore Julia Demuth (Jordan, N.Y.). Musso, an all-rookie selection in 2005, was third on the team with 18 goals and 29 points, despite being hampered by an ankle that kept her out of three games. An excellent feeder, she also has one of the strongest shots on the team, making her a top threat offensively.

"Leanne is a true workhorse," Edmonston said. "She has all the intangibles you want in a playmaker. Her ability to get inside and place the ball where she wants is uncanny."

Demuth hopes to build on a stellar freshman campaign, in which she started every game and netted 16 markers, including a team-best eight-game goal scoring streak.

"Julia really is a strong cutter who can really finish," said Edmonston. While she contributed a lot last spring, BU's coach expects to see even more production this season. "She has really stepped her game up and showed a lot in terms of confidence. She will be a huge part of what we do in the middle."

Sophomore Kelsey Pieper (Rensselaer, N.Y.) will add depth and tenacity to the starting unit. Pieper played a central role in controlling draws, finishing second with 28.

Rounding out the unit, returning sophomore Shannon Frawley (Pearl River, N.Y.) is joined by a trio of talented newcomers, Kelsi Cleary-Hammarstedt (Fayetteville, N.Y.), Liz Wright (Massapequa, N.Y.) and Kate Gromatsky (Smithtown, N.Y.), all whom figure largely in BU's plans and are expected to make an immediate contribution.

DEFENSE
The Bearcats' backline returns a mix of youth and experience. Senior tri-captain Nicole Rhodes (Farmingdale, N.Y.),along with classmate Kerry Henley (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) and sophomore Kara Slowik (Warners, N.Y.) all return as starters.

In just her second season, the gritty Slowik, who led the team with 13 caused turnovers and was third with 31 ground balls, joins both Rhodes and Riordan as the Bearcat captains. Her combination of quickness and smarts made an instant impact on the team's transition game last spring .

"Despite being undersized (5-2), Kara is very coy. She holds her space incredibly well and plays as big as any one on our team."

Sophomore Catherine Mumford (Syracuse, N.Y.) along with a pair of strong newcomers out of Maryland, Sammy Jo Kanekuni (Frederick, Md.) and Jamie Franke (Baltimore, Md.), will all play a role in keeping the traffic away from the cage.

Between the pipes, the Bearcats return a pair of second year players that got a taste of collegiate action last spring. Junior netminder Sandra Alvarez (Port Washington, N.Y.) received a majority of the minutes in 2006, starting 14 of 17 contests. Sophomore C.J. Cuneo (East Northport, N.Y.), however, got the nod in the final three contests and figures to challenge for this years top spot.

"With a year under their belts now, both of them have gained a lot of confidence and become more comfortable in the cage," said Edmonston. "I am confident where we're at in goal, having two very capable stoppers."

SCHEDULE
The Bearcats open their 17-game slate with a season-long road trip beginning in Connecticut against the Pioneers. The 2007 season lidlifter marks the first of four consecutive road contests, highlighted by a date with nationally-ranked Syracuse, for the third consecutive season.

Binghamton kicks off the first of six home dates on March 16 when St. Francis (N.Y.) visits the East Gym Complex. Other home contests are set to include matchups with Niagara, Long Island University, and conference foes Albany, Vermont, and New Hampshire. The America East opener will take place on March 21st on the road against Stony Brook.

"The most important (goal) in my eyes is to get those conference wins and break through in those conference games," Edmonston said. "For us, there are some top dogs in the conference, but within the other schools I think we have just as much talent."

The 12th Annual America East Women's Lacrosse Championship will be held May 4 and May 6 with all rounds being playing at the No. 1 seed.

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