March 12, 2002

Sorting Out the League's Stickwomen

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Long known as a powerhouse of men’s lacrosse, the Ivy League has come into its own in women’s lacrosse as well, in recent years. Last year’s co-Ivy champ Princeton advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA tournament before falling to eventual champion Maryland. Cornell and Dartmouth also reached the national tournament last season following a stellar Ancient Eight season. So without further ado:

1. Princeton

2001: 14-5, 6-1 Ivy

Outlook: Despite losing All-American midfielder Julie Shaner to graduation, Princeton will again field a talented and dangerous team. Eight All-Ivy selections and three All-Americans return to the 2002 edition of the Tigers. No. 2 Princeton faces one of the more difficult schedules in the nation this year, facing nine top-20 teams, including six top-10 schools.

Player to watch: Junior defender Rachel Becker was named to the first-team All-Ivy, All-America, and NCAA All-Tournament teams last year, leading the Tigers in caused turnovers with 32.

2. Cornell

2001: 11-4, 5-2 Ivy

3. Dartmouth

2001: 13-4, 6-1 Ivy

Outlook: Co-Ivy champion Dartmouth found success in defense last season and hopes to do the same again in 2002. All-Ivy selections Suzy Gibbons and Amy Zimmer, the Green’s two most prolific scorers last year, both graduated, leaving a gaping hole in Dartmouth’s offensive attack. The No. 8 Green will be forced to compensate for this, possibly with a midfield trap strategy as it faces nine top-20 teams this season.

Player to watch: Senior goalkeeper Sarah Hughes is Dartmouth’s all-time leader in saves (434) and a two-time All-Ivy selection. She anchors one of the strongest defenses in the Ivy League.

4. Yale

2001: 10-6, 5-2 Ivy

Outlook: After falling just short of a bid to the NCAA tournament in 2001, a very young Eli team hopes to contend, as it boasts a strong freshman class. The No. 14 Bulldogs boast a solid midfield, anchored by 2001 Ivy League Rookie of the Year Miles Whitman, whose 35 goals led the team. It remains to be seen, however, if the Elis’ 11 freshmen will be able to effectively fill the holes created by last year’s graduating class.

Player to watch: Senior Megan Strenski, Yale’s sole returning All-Ivy selection, will anchor the Bulldog defense. The team captain was second on the team with 21 ground balls in 2001.

5. Brown

2001: 5-10, 2-5 Ivy

Outlook: Eleven freshmen join a Brown team that will hope to improve over 2001’s mediocre finish. Like much of its Ancient Eight brethren, the Bears are a defensive-minded team, led by Regional All-American goalie Niki Caggiano. Defense will be crucial to Brown, as it faces a tough road ahead this year, including non-conference games against powerhouses Maryland and Vanderbilt.

Player to watch: Caggiano. The senior was the Ivy Defensive Player of the Week twice last year, as well as a first team All-Ivy selection. Her 479 career saves are a school record.

6. Penn

2001: 8-8, 3-4 Ivy

Outlook: One look at the Penn roster conjures up a single thought: lack of experience. The 2002 Penn squad will hope to rebound from a lackluster 2001 season with a predominantly young roster. The Quakers feature only two seniors but nine freshmen as they enter a rebuilding year. Unfortunately for Penn, the bulk of this rebuilding will begin next year, as seven top recruits will join the team as freshmen.

Player to watch: Midfielder Kate Murray picked up All-Ivy second team honors last year as a sophomore, leading the Red and Blue with 30 goals. In Penn’s Mar. 2 four-overtime upset of James Madison, she was responsible for six of the Quakers’ 10 goals, including the game-winner.

7. Harvard

2001: 6-9, 1-6 Ivy

Outlook: The much-maligned Crimson doesn’t show enough promise to climb up from the spot in which it ended last season. Harvard will face one of the easier schedules in the Ivy League, with No. 1 Maryland and No. 20 Boston University the only ranked non-Ivy opponents. And, after losing its top five scorers in 2001 to graduation, the future looks bleak.

Player to watch: Senior defender Heather Hussey captains the Crimson and anchors a defense that will attempt to contend with its more heralded counterparts throughout the league.

8. Columbia

2001: 2-12, 0-7 Ivy

Outlook: Traditional Ivy doormat Columbia will most likely reprise that role this season as it welcomes 13 new faces to the 2002 squad. Most notable among these are freshman goalies Diana Weinstein and Leah Seligman, meaning that the Lions will have more than one goalie on the roster for the first time in a few years. A 5-1 victory over Manhattan in the season opener was notable, as it was the best defensive effort in the history of the program.

Player to watch: Sophomore goalie Jessica Valdez should continue to improve this season with a full year’s experience behind her. The addition of two backups should also help immensely.

Archived article by Owen Bochner