One season ago, the Ivy League established itself as one of every top conferences in Division I women’s lacrosse. Two Ivy teams — Princeton and Cornell — reached the Final Four. The Red got there by beating seven-time defending champion Maryland, opening the way for the Tigers to win the title.
2002: 10-5, 5-1 Ivy
The defending national champions lost six seniors, but their depth is good enough to overcome the loss. The Tigers won their championship with a freshman goalie last year, and this spring, they return arguably the best defensive player in the country, senior Rachael Becker. Becker was the 2002 Inside Lacrosse Defensive Player of the Year and is a 2003 Tewaaraton nominee. On offense, the Tigers have junior midfielder Theresa Sherry, one of the fastest, most skilled players in the Ivies. And the Tigers aren’t just a group of stars. They play as a cohesive unit, working hard to make the most of what they have. Head coach Chris Sailer knows how to keep them going.
2002: 9-4, 4-2
“Perhaps the one team in the league that we have no problem getting fired up to play,” said Cornell head coach Jenny Graap ’86 about the Elis. She is 4-1 against Yale in her career at Cornell. The Elis lost only one starter from 2002, returning a big, talented senior class. Every year they knock off someone big, but they also have a reputation for devastating late-season losses. They could go either way, and their success or failure will likely come down to their schedule in late April and early May.
2002: 6-7, 0-6
The Green lost six seniors last year, including its goalie. This year, it looks like it’s going to start a freshman between the pipes, but that freshman, Devon Wills, is regarded as one of the best goaltending recruits in the country. Dartmouth’s fate may be largely determined by some of the younger players on the team; the Green has one senior and five juniors on its roster. “We travel to Hanover,” said Graap, noting the long drive, “And we’re doing it after playing Ohio State on a Friday night.” It will be a long trip. Before last year Dartmouth had won at least a share of the Ivy crown for five years in a row. “I always see Dartmouth as a viable threat,” said Graap. Last year’s Cornell win was Graap’s first victory against the Green.
2002: 9-4, 3-3
“They’ve gotten stronger every year,” said Graap. “They are a very aggressive and explosive team.” Penn finds themselves in a growing stage very similar to Cornell’s just a few years ago. Penn graduated only two starters, so expect the Quakers to be experienced and hungry. Look for the Quakers to keep on improving. Freshman Liz Shaner’s older sister, Julie, is an assistant coach for the Quakers. However, Penn has gotten off to a bit of a slow start, falling to No. 2 Duke and No. 15 Johns Hopkins.
2002: 8-7, 1-5
Last year, the Crimson came close to pulling off an upset against the Red in Cambridge. Cornell squeaked by with a one-goal, come-from-behind victory. In 2003, Cornell should have a little more incentive. Harvard visits Schoellkopf Field on the women’s laxers’ Senior Day. The Crimson is never a team to take for granted. “They always have talent,” said Graap. Lately the team has been inconsistent, but it can certainly be a dangerous opponent. It has NCAA experience from the past. The team lost five seniors from 2002. “A menacing opponent,” Graap said. “You never know which Harvard you will get.”
2002: 7-7, 4-2
In 2003, the Bears will have to deal with the loss of last year’s standout senior goalie, Niki Caggiano, to graduation, but otherwise they return their starting lineup intact. The team is led by a talented coaching staff, including an assistant coach who played under Graap at George Mason. Brown, says Graap, has a reputation of being a scrappy, athletic team. “Their unorthodox style presents a challenge,” she concludes.
2002: 7-7, 4-2
The Lions come into the 2003 season looking to escape five years of Ivy inferiority. New head coach Kerri Whitaker aims to use her experience as a first team All-American player at Brown and six-year assistant coach at Syracuse and Columbia to help get the Lions their first Ivy League win. She brings a hungry, experienced team to the field with the energy of a new coach behind it. The Lions only lost one senior to graduation and there might be something bright in their future, but not quite yet, despite the fact that the Lions have won their first three games. Don’t count them out for their first Ivy League win, though. As Graap said, “It’s just a question of time.”
Archived article by Matt James