Feb. 15, 2008
By Jim Wrobel
Special to GoHolyCross.com
The 2008 Holy Cross women's lacrosse team will be seeking its third straight Patriot League regular season and tournament championships, along with its third consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Crusaders return 18 letterwinners, including eight starters, while they welcome 12 freshmen to a team that went 13-6 overall and a perfect 5-0 in the Patriot League in 2007. Holy Cross also returns five players who received all-Patriot League honors a year ago.
"There is a sense of excitement, but also a sense of pressure because we want to win the championship again," said sixth-year head coach and the program's all-time winningest coach Stephanie Ridolfi. "Two times in a row is tough to do but three times is even harder."
The Crusaders are coming off a fall season that was very helpful in finding out about the team. "The fall was up and down," said Ridolfi. "We learned a lot about our selves and what we need to fix and what are strengths are. The players came back this preseason and were a completely different team for the better. The team came back prepared and ready to go."
The senior class of Amy Archambault, Nikki Bolduc, Kristine Corkum, Kaitlin Nangle, Cashel Scanlon, Cara O'Sullivan and Kelly Winslow have been a part of teams that have earned a 15-2 record in conference games during their first three seasons and have been major contributors to a program that has reached its first two ever appearances in the NCAA Tournament in school history. "The seniors have been a driving force in our success," said Ridolfi. "They never take things for granted and only expect things to go the right way if they work for it. They don't expect things to be handed to them. It is a great tribute to them coming in as freshmen and helping build the program to where it is today."
This group of seniors also have big game experience, including two wins in the last two Patriot League Championship games, a victory in the NCAA Tournament Play-In Game in 2006 and two NCAA Tournament games. Ridolfi knows that this is a huge benefit for her team. "It especially helps with the very large freshmen and sophomore classes that we have," said Ridolfi. "They are going to learn a lot from the juniors and seniors, especially about game tactics in the middle of a game and how to lead on and off the field. I think it will be a huge plus for us to have those upperclassmen lead the freshmen and sophomores in big time situations."
Senior tri-captains Archambault, Bolduc and O'Sullivan each bring valuable leadership to the team. "Amy was a captain last year so she has that under her wing," said Ridolfi. "Amy is a vocal leader that rallies everyone together. Nikki leads by example on the field. Her play on the field makes her a great captain. Cara is a mixture of both in that she will speak up, but at times she also leads by her play and her aggressiveness on the field. The three of them are a great combination. Also Nikki is a midfielder, Cara is a defender and Amy is an attacker which is great in that we have a captain on each part of the field."
The Crusaders led the Patriot League and were ranked 19th in the country in goals scored per game with 12.63. Holy Cross returns four of its top five goal scorers from last season and is expected to be strong once again offensively. "Our offense has been strong in practice," said Ridolfi. "We've seen the offense continue to work together. They are not afraid to pick up the slack from the graduation of some of last year's goal scorers."
Defensively last year Holy Cross allowed the fewest goals per game in the conference and was 10th in the nation with 9.01. This season the defense is expected to once again be a major strength of the team. "We have most of our field players returning from the defensive end," said Ridolfi. "We are at a good advantage at defense in that we have players with great big game experience and vocal leaders. We are at a good point with our defense."
The junior class of Calley Benoit, Kelly Casey, Kaitlyn Curley and Lisa Gagne will look to win its third Patriot League title in all three years they have been a part of the program, while the sophomore class of Ali Baird, Allison Donovan, Megan Fenton, Mary Kate Finnegan, Katie Gardner, Laurie Noreika and Katie Riddle will look to build on the quality experience they gained as freshmen.
Ridolfi is excited about the arrival of freshmen Annie Boylan, Alex Corrado, Teresa Curtis, Katelyn Gettens, Maryalice Gill, Amy Martin, Mary Milley, Julie Murphy, Rachel Murray, Meg O'Leary, Cassie Rudden and Meredith Stevens. "The freshmen are getting better and better week by week," said Ridolfi. "With this strong freshmen class, we have depth in all four classes which is fantastic to have. We have seen the sophomores and freshmen step up during practice which is creating more and more depth week by week."
The Crusaders return two all-league selections at attack from a season ago in seniors Kristine Corkum and Amy Archambault. Last season, Corkum ranked second on the team with a career best 46 goals and a career best 60 points, while she tied for second in the Patriot League in goals and tied for third in points as she was named to the All-Patriot League First Team. Archambault is coming off a season in which she recorded at least one point in all 19 games, while she was second on the team with a career best 17 assists. Her 25 goals and her career best 42 points ranked fourth on the team as she earned All-Patriot League Second Team accolades.
Senior Kelly Winslow is expected to be a major contributor at attack this season as well. "Kelly is playing fantastic in practice and we expect her to really step up and have a great senior season," said Ridolfi. Senior Kaitlin Nangle had a strong junior season as she was ranked fourth on the team with a career best eight assists, while she was sixth with a career best 20 points. Midfielders Nikki Bolduc and Megan Fenton will also be factors at the attack position.
Holy Cross returns two 2007 First Team All-Patriot League members at midfield in senior Bolduc and sophomore Fenton. Bolduc ranked fifth on the team with 19 goals, seven assists and 26 points last season, while she was named to the Patriot League All-Tournament Team as she scored three goals in the 12-8 win over American in the Patriot League Tournament Championship game. Fenton is coming off an outstanding freshman season in which she ranked third on the team with 38 goals and 45 points, while she was fifth in the Patriot League in goals and eighth in points. She also led the team and was fourth in the Patriot League with 39 draw controls.
The defense will be led by senior Cara O'Sullivan who was selected to the All-Patriot League First Team in 2007. She tied for second on the team in caused turnovers with a career best 19. Junior Lisa Gagne, sophomore Mary Kate Finnegan and Curley are expected to be big contributors defensively.
In goal this season will be freshman Amy Martin and sophomore Allison Donovan. "The goalie position is really young," said Ridolfi. "Amy is a freshman and Allison is a field player that we converted into a goalie but they are both doing really well in the preseason and we expect them to play well in the season."