For interim head coach Gretchen Zigante, the first few games of the season have been a time to reflect and ponder her lineup. Zigante and the Red (1-2-1) came into the season with numerous options and various lineup combinations, so she had been tinkering with various groupings. However, with Ivy play beginning tonight, a definite lineup has started to emerge.
Zigante will employ a three forward system. Led by 5-11 senior Caitlin Oliver, the forwards are a dynamic, explosive bunch. Oliver is able to use her size to win battles for loose balls, and makes an easy downfield target for teammates.
Playing alongside Oliver will be freshman Eva Dixon, who Zigante describes as being “extremely talented.” Dixon has already begun to make an impact with her aggressive play.
Joining this pair will be senior Alison McKeown, an Ithaca native. McKeown, who also plays for the women’s lacrosse team, has been stellar at forward thus far.
“We are playing a three-front system, so expect a lot of mobility,” Zigante said.
Joining the starters will be sophomore Erin Malnight and freshman Kate Bubrick, who can also expect to see playing time.
The Red is fortunate to have a very deep and very talented midfield. Thus far, they have shown themselves adept at moving the ball around and creating chances for their forwards.
Senior Jessica Snyder will lead the midfielders. A clever and skilled playmaker, Snyder has been setting up and controlling much of the attack for the Red.
“She is one of the best players so far. She is creative, skillful and dominant,” Zigante said.
Joining Snyder will be junior Mariye Wick, a defensive midfielder who can cover a lot of ground and is skilled at winning battles for possession. Senior Whitney Hughes adds experience and stability to the midfield. Indeed, Zigante is counting on her upperclassmen to guide the youngsters in the middle, but also expects some of the freshmen to step in and make an immediate impact.
The freshmen foursome of Rebecca Flewelling, Lauren Lynn, Emily Kuhn and Brenna McGuire will see significant playing time, and will be a big part of the program going forward.
However, the real strength for the Red lies in its defense. Anchored by co-captains junior Leslie Campbell and senior Mira MacLennan, the Red backfield is tough, smart and experienced.
“They have a tremendous ability to read the game, dominate and direct the traffic,” Zigante said. “It’s hard to imagine the team without them.”
Freshman Elizabeth Scully, junior Molly Easterlin and senior Jessica Schindler add depth to the defense.
In net, the Red will likely turn to freshman Carlyn Swensen.
“She has a great presence in the game, a steady hand, and she has really stepped into the role nicely,” Zigante said.
Backing her up will be senior Katrina Matlin, regarded by Zigante as the best pure shot-stopper on the team.