Aug. 15, 2006
By Brianne Mallaghan
Special to GoHolyCross.com
With 12 letterwinners and eight starters returning from last year, including four of the top five scorers on the team, the 2006 Holy Cross Crusaders are full of talent and full of hope of winning the program's fourth Patriot League title in the last 10 years.
Holy Cross steadily improved throughout 2005 and visibly gained momentum as the year went on. Towards the end of the season, the team started to show signs of a championship-caliber squad, after putting together a great performance against nationally-ranked Boston College, fighting back for a come-from-behind win over Dartmouth, and taking nationally-ranked American to overtime.
All of that culminated into an appearance in the 2005 Patriot League Tournament championship game, which was the program's sixth title game appearance in the last nine years. Despite falling to American in the title game, Holy Cross had a lot of positives to take from the season. Seven different players recorded goals, eight different players recorded assists, and all but one of those point-getters are returning in 2006.
"The team is excited for the upcoming season," said head coach Meg Galligan. "I observed a dramatic transformation with the squad during the offseason. Every player took her game to another level, and as a unit, the team feels more confident and capable of achieving even greater success in 2006."
With excellent team dynamics, a solid core of veteran players, and seven newcomers expected to offer immediate depth to an already talented squad, look for Holy Cross to make a run for the 2006 Patriot League championship.
The 2006 Crusaders will be led by All-Region and two-time All-Patriot League selection, Tara Welch. Arguably the most prolific scorer in program history, Welch has been one of the top two scorers in the Patriot League the last two seasons and finished 2005 ranked nationally in three different categories.
Welch, who will serve as a tri-captain this season, enters the year nine goals away from setting a new program record for career goals and 20 points away from setting a new program record for career points. She is currently tied for eighth on the all-time Patriot League goals list.
"Tara is a fearless competitor who has a solid understanding of the game," said Galligan. "Her quick hands and great elimination skills make her a dynamic frontline leader."
Joining Welch at the forward position is junior Sara O'Coin. O'Coin, who started all 20 games last season and totaled 17 points on five goals and seven assists, will be looking to step up this season after the graduation of Jenna Cook `06, one of the best finishers in program history. According to Galligan, O'Coin has emerged on the scene as a dangerous forward, and has meshed well with Welch, making the duo a pair to watch out for in 2006.
"Sara's stick skills have caught up with her tremendous speed and she improved on transitioning the ball into scoring range, while getting some creative touches on the ball this Spring."
Junior Katie Rowlenson started all 20 games in the midfield in 2005, but has added striker skills to her repertoire and is showing signs of becoming a frontline threat this season.
"Katie is very quick and agile," explained Galligan. "This Spring she was passing well, drawing corners and using her defensive skills to be a pest against opposing backs. Her rise in confidence has led to a more assertive approach to her game, and she will continue to help us in the midfield as well."
Sophomore Kristin Schulz saw a lot of action last Fall, and is expected to be a legitimate scoring threat this season. "Kristin has natural instincts with a lot of potential. With experience under her belt this season, we will look for her to be able to string more plays together up front."
MIDFIELDERS AND BACKS
Senior tri-captain Laura Cohen added a pro-active style to her defensive play last year and became an impact player for the Crusaders in the midfield. A First Team All-Patriot League selection last season, Cohen started all 20 games and was third on the team in scoring with 31 points on 13 goals and five assists.
"Laura is a smart player and uses her composure to her advantage," said Galligan. "She is one of the best at seeing long passing lanes and makes effective use of her solid, deceptive hit in those instances."
Along with Cohen, senior tri-captain Susie Whelan will bring great leadership to the team and make up the backbone of the Crusaders' defensive unit.
Last season, Whelan was named to the All-Patriot League Second Team after leading the team in both interceptions and tackles, and totaling 13 assists on the offensive end, which was second-best on the team.
"Susie has a tremendous work ethic and positive spirit that will come in handy as one of our 2006 captains," said Galligan. "She is a fluid, aggressive, all-around player and her versatility will allow us to put her wherever we need to make a difference in a game."
Junior Lauren Coletta will also be returning to the starting line-up this season. The versatile Coletta started all 20 games last year, finished the season tied for second on the team with 79 interceptions, and contributed in the scoring column from her defensive position.
"Lauren has endless energy with solid marking skills," said Galligan. "Her ability to concentrate on the task at hand is an asset to our game, and her offensive mindedness when she takes possession of the ball is an added bonus."
Carolyn Connelly embraced the role of the team's `12th Man' last season, but will be vying for a starting job this year. "`CC' is a low, very focused player with deceptive snap passes. She gained more confidence in her overall game this Spring, and I anticipate seeing her step up her role on the team this Fall."
"Kim is a solid defender with an intimidating presence on the field. She creates dynamic plays, and her powerful hit will be advantageous for clearing balls upfield."
"Eli is a deceptively smart defender. She can often trap her opponent unknowingly and take possession of the ball with her sound tackling skills. She has a great deal of poise and can help keep our squad calm under pressure."
Sophomores Jessie Cullen and Liz Morris have made significant progress in the offseason and will seek more playing time this Fall, while newcomers Katie Aylward, Kaitlyn Barnes, Courtney Callahan and Brit Sachs are expected to contribute to the team's depth.
Starting in the cage this season will be sophomore Erin Singleton. Singleton saw limited playing time in 2005, after spending the season backing-up two-year starter and two-time All-Patriot League selection, Sony Kuhn. Singleton did show signs of things to come, however, as she earned her first career win and shutout in her lone start of the season at Brown on Oct. 26. "Erin has a great deal of talent and handles pressure very well," said Galligan. "Her performance last Fall and during the off-season is a glimpse of a successful career ahead."
Newcomer Kelly Casey was a standout high school player and brings a wealth of experience at the national and international level. "Both Erin and Kelly have great character and poise, and will no doubt help our program succeed."