Simmons Lacrosse will begin its second year as a varsity program on March 11, when the Sharks compete in the West Palm Beach, Fla. Spring Fling tournament. Simmons went 2-4 in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference and 3-8 overall in 2009, narrowly missing a spot in the post-season conference tournament in their inaugural season. The Sharks are looking to step up their level of play in 2010 and make a mark in the conference.
Several standout athletes will return to lead the squad. Junior Natalie Stever (Chagrin Falls, Ohio), junior Kayla Tirrell (Lincoln, R.I.) and sophomore Lee Sutherland (Tuftonboro, N.H.) each earned a spot on the GNAC All-Conference Second Team at the end of 2009. Senior Jen Szkolt (Bondsville, Mass.) and sophomores Meaghan Maurice (Portland, Maine) and Hillary Gluskin (Duxbury, Mass.) will also return from the 2009 roster. Maurice will lead the team as a captain, alongside senior Emily Sypher (Orono, Maine).
Head Coach Kate Leonard will expect Stever, last season's leading point-scorer, to exhibit more hard work and smart passing around the goal. Sutherland and Maurice were the backbone of Simmons' scoring midfield, and their hustle and heart will lead the transition game again. Tirrell and Szkolt return on defense, and Leonard is looking to see stronger goal-protection and great footwork from them. "With three All-Conference selections back this season, we have some strong individual players who will really push everyone to that next level," said Leonard.
The Sharks will welcome several new faces to the roster. Juniors Catherine McGurk (Chatham, Mass.) and Sarah Pontarelli (Narragansett, R.I.) will add great hustle and strong stick skills to the offensive end. Sophomore transfer Mikaela McSherry (Worcester, Mass.) has already proven her value on offense, and freshman Zoie Kaley (Manchester, Maine) will bring energy to join them around the goal.
As fit, aggressive players, freshmen Emily Kaley (Manchester, Maine), Rachel Wallace (Braintree, Mass.), Justine Beauchamp (Exeter, N.H.) and Amanda Cardinal (South Hadley, Mass.) will see time in the midfield. Freshmen Andrea Donovan (Portland, Maine) and Bayleigh Isherwood (Portland, Maine) will join the line defense as vocal team leaders. Freshman Kelly Last (West Haven, Conn.), comes to Lacrosse from the Simmons Volleyball team, and has already made a huge impact as goalkeeper. "She's an outstanding athlete and she's got the right attitude we need to lead this team from the bottom up," said Leonard.
Simmons will aim for the conference tournament berth again in 2010. With two more GNAC schools adding lacrosse programs to their athletic departments (Rivier College and Mount Ida College), the road to the post-season will be tougher, but the Sharks are up for the challenge.
"We have a lot of young leaders on the team, and we'll be working to push them to push their teammates to greater heights. I am so excited to see what this season brings," said Leonard. "We've worked a lot on strength, fitness, and basic skills, so it's the game play and tactics we're currently getting to out on the field. Jen Fox has made an immediate impression as our assistant coach, and if the girls put their heart into it and really play tough and listen to each other I know good things are going to happen."
Simmons Lacrosse will begin their season in West Palm Beach, Fla. as competitors in the GKD SportsVision of Vermont Spring Fling. The Sharks will face off against Vassar on Thursday, March 11 at 4:00pm and RPI on Friday, March 12 at 1:00pm. Both contests will take place at Lake Lytal Park.