Wednesday, February 20, 2008

University of Albany Women's Lacrosse Begins 2008 Schedule Against No. 4 North Carolina on Saturday, Feb. 23

Courtesy: UAlbany Sports Information

Albany, N.Y. – The University at Albany women’s lacrosse team begins its 2008 schedule against perennial power North Carolina at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Saturday, Feb. 23. Game time is 1:00 p.m. The Tar Heels, who have already opened with home wins against Loyola, Md. and Denver, are ranked No. 3 nationally by Inside Lacrosse and No. 4 in the IWLCA coaches’ poll.

2008 Season Preview

UAlbany took the first step in challenging for the America East Conference title on an annual basis when the Great Danes reached the conference tournament championship game in 2007. Now third-year head coach Lindsey Hart wants her program to take that momentum to the next level.

“Physically we have the things you need,” said Hart, who has guided the Great Danes to a pair of eight-win campaigns in her first two seasons at the helm. “The question will be whether mentally we can stay confident and have the desire to not settle for what we did in the past.”

The Great Danes have 12 returning players, including six starters, who will face an upgraded schedule that features nationally-recognized North Carolina, Syracuse and Vanderbilt.

“We want to play an aggressive, high-tempo style,” Hart explains. “It’s a pace that can take advantage of our strengths and gets us up and down the field. We have the kind of depth where we can sub the middies without losing our level of play.”

The Great Danes’ midfield begins with all-conference standout Kayla Best and senior Brittany Scott. Best, a second-team All-America East selection and conference rookie team member, totaled 32 goals and 10 assists in her first collegiate season. Scott, who had 16 goals and five assists, added 24 ground balls and 28 draw controls. Her game has benefitted from earning a roster spot following tryouts on the Canadian National Team.

“We will depend on Kayla who is amazingly quick and a great dodger,” Hart states. “Brittany is incredibly fast and has gained confidence from her experience with the Canadian team.”

Rory Redmond, a two-year starter, is also experienced in the midfield. She is one of four players back who scored 20-plus points (17 goals, 3 assists) last season.

The Great Danes will rely on an accomplished freshman class. Tee Ladouceur, Jodi Battaglia and Mel Rorie were each named to the U.S. Lacrosse high school All-America first team. Ladouceur, who scored 215 career goals, was her area’s offensive player of the year. Nikki Branchini, another scholastic All-American and Capital Region’s defensive player of the year, can also work on defense.

UAlbany’s all-time scorer has graduated, but the squad still has some capable point-producers on attack. Sophomore Christine Grueniger had an impact in her first season. She accounted for 28 goals and three assists en route to earning America East all-rookie honors.

“She was overlooked in the recruiting process, but has great hands,” Harts says. “When she was surrounded by talent last year, her game took off.”

Stacey Brown, who has played in 45 career games, and Jane Bush are also veteran attackers. Bush, who had 11 points as a sophomore, and freshman Andrea Hoda are expected to work from behind the cage.

The Great Danes will also welcome the return of Julie Bush, a 2006 America East All-Rookie Team member who missed most of last season with a knee injury. Bush tallied 41 points as a freshman, on 25 goals and 16 assists.

“Julie is the quarterback of our attack” Hart offers. “She is a very intelligent player with game sense and is like having a coach on the field. She can control the pace.”

Teresa Strano, one of four team captains, leads a group of defenders who can cover the opposition and take the ball back. She will be joined on the unit by Mackenzie Riegel and Sara Wolf, a pair of starters last year, and Renee Levitin. Connecticut transfer Tricia Primomo will make her presence felt immediately.

“They are very good team defenders,” Hart says, who will also use freshmen Kimberly Sumcizk and Stephanie Kempf. “As a group they have the knowledge and athleticism.”

Katie Neer, a junior, is ready to become the team’s starting goalkeeper following the graduation of the program’s career saves leader. Neer, who has appeared in 10 games over the last two seasons, can stop the ball and acts as an eighth defender on the field.

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