By Jim Wrobel
Special to GoHolyCross.com
The 2012 Holy Cross women's lacrosse team returns seven out of 12 starters and 18 letterwinners, including four of their top five point producers from last season. Last year, the Crusaders (6-11 overall, 3-3 Patriot League) won three of their last four Patriot League games to end the season, narrowly missing qualification for the Patriot League Tournament after losing the tiebreaker to American. With the leadership of its five seniors and five juniors, along with its talented group of underclassmen, including six freshmen, Holy Cross will be looking to get back to the tournament and earn the program's third Patriot League championship.
"The team has a big sense of excitement to start the season," said 10th year and the program's all-time winningest head coach Stephanie Ridolfi. "Leading that excitement are the three captains and all of the seniors. The seniors have made it their mission to make this their most successful season of their four years."
Ridolfi was very happy with the fall season and was able to learn a lot about the team. "Our fall season went very well as we played a lot of competition against top teams in the area," said Ridolfi. "We were also able to have everyone play and were able to see how players were able to hold their own on the field. The biggest things we took from the fall was to see what each player's strength is, who fits best in what position and to determine a core group that we really think will bring us success."
Holy Cross will be led by senior captains Catherine Furman (Garden City, N.Y.) and Kat Sutton (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) and junior captain Maddie Carrellas (Middletown, R.I.). "The captains bring quite a bit to the team," said Ridolfi. "All three bring tenacity, hustle and grit which are their biggest assets as leaders."
The five seniors of Kayla DiBari (Holderness, N.H.), Furman, Caitie Shea (Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.), Sutton and Cami Thompson (Rockville, Md.) are major contributors to what Ridolfi sees as the team's biggest strength. "Our biggest strength is that the team is unified," said Ridolfi. "All 24 players are patting each other on the back. The team being unified will really help us win games and lead to success."
The seniors have the experience of making the tournament and also missing a bid to the postseason. "Last year was tough just missing the tournament on a tiebreaker," said Ridolfi. "So the seniors are determined in trying to make the tournament."
Juniors Carrellas, Sara Cox (Chatham, N.J.), Sarah Daly (Ridgewood, N.J.), Caroline Pedlow (Charlotte, N.C.) and Taylor Zebrowski (Verona, N.J.) are also expected to lead. Sophomores Christina Amendola (Manorville, N.Y.), Corinne Caracausa (North Wales, Pa.), Julia Cowan (Wilmette, Ill.), Seton Hartnett (Westfield, N.J.), Sara Hennessey (Winchester, Mass.), Maddie Parisi (Westport, Conn.), Maggie Reichenbach (Manhasset, N.Y.) and Sarah Weber (Summit, N.J.) are looking to build on their rookie seasons, while freshmen Sophia Agostinelli (Framingham, Mass.), Charlotte Brodsky (Rumson, N.J.), Kim Corkum (Ipswich, Mass.), Mary Klimasewiski (Cochester, Conn.), Lissie Russert (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Laura Ryan (Stirling, N.J.) are looking to have strong freshman seasons.
The offense returns four of the top five point producers from last season. "We have a lot of composure on offense," said Ridolfi. "Our offense stresses getting and making the most of their opportunities to score goals. Our returning offensive players have done a good job making their opportunities count and we expect that to continue. And we have been stressing to all of our offensive players that we need to score on free-position shots. That goes along with our theme of making the most of our opportunities."
The Crusaders have a seasoned group on offense, and will be led by Sutton. Sutton has earned second team All-Patriot League honors the past two seasons. She had yet another outstanding season last year as she led the team with 35 goals and a career-best 44 points. She was also second on the team with a career-best nine assists, led the team with a career-best 14 free-position goals and tied for first with 27 draw controls. She has 91 goals and 19 assists for 110 points as she has played in all 50 games.
Zebrowski will be looking to have a strong junior season as she has posted 45 goals and 19 assists for 64 career points. Last season she ranked second on the team with 29 points. Carrellas will also be a major factor in the success of the team. Last year she tied with Zebrowski for second on the team with a career-best 21 goals. DiBari is expected to start where she finished last season. She had a career season in 2011 with 14 goals and five assists for 19 points. Hennessey is looking to continue her strong overall play from her freshman season. She scored 15 goals and had one assist for 16 points, while she tied for first on the team with 27 draw controls. She also ranked third with 13 caused turnovers and led the team with two game-winning goals.
The Crusader defense is expected to be a strength again year. Last season, the Crusaders' 248 ground balls, 126 caused turnovers and 10.35 goals allowed per game were their best since the 2007 season. "We expect our defense to continue to be strong," said Ridolfi. "What is also a key is getting solid defensive play from our midfielders which we expect to get. We are also looking for some defensive players to step up."
Furman, who earned 2011 first team All-Patriot League accolades will be a major strength of the team defensively. The defense will also be led by Cox, who tied for first on the team with a career-best 20 caused turnovers last year which tied for fifth all-time for a season at the school. She also tied for third on the team with a career-best 21 ground balls.
The Crusaders will start the season at UMass on Feb. 15, while their first home game is versus Boston College on Feb. 17. The Patriot League Tournament will be on April 27 and April 29, on the campus of the regular season champion as the top four teams in the final regular season standings will qualify for the postseason.