Feb. 22, 2011
BOSTON - Picked to capture its seventh straight America East crown, the 2011 Boston University lacrosse team will look to continue its dominance within the conference while climbing the ladder on the national stage.
The team debuted at No. 18 in the IWLCA preseason coaches' poll and returns an experienced and talented core looking for its seventh consecutive conference title and NCAA tournament berth. Despite losing their top three scorers and 10 players from last season, the Terriers are ready to make their mark in 2011.
"This team has taken the approach that it's a new team in a new year," said fifth-year head coach Liz Robertshaw. "I'm very excited to see what we can do on the field. They've been working hard both on and off the field and I've seen some great things during the preseason."
The Terriers return 14 players from a squad that went 11-9 (5-1 AE) a year ago, including five seniors, four juniors, five sophomores and seven freshmen. The squad will be led by captains Rachel Collins, Catie Tilton and Molly Swain.
"Rachel, Molly and Catie are excellent leaders and great student-athletes who will lead this year's squad," said Robertshaw. "They will compliment each other well both on and off the field and, along with a strong senior class, make a great leadership group."
BU will open its season against intrastate rival Massachusetts for the eighth straight season on Wednesday (Feb. 23) at Nickerson Field. Game time is set at 3 p.m. The Terriers are 7-10 all-time against the Minutewomen and 3-1 against UMass under Robertshaw.
With the departure of three-year starting goalkeeper Rachel Klein, the Terriers will look to the tandem of sophomore Kim Elsworth and freshman Christina Sheridan. As a freshman, Elsworth appeared in six games and although there will be limited experience between the pipes, Robertshaw is excited about her two young goalies.
"It'll be a battle between Kim and Christina," Robertshaw said. "We haven't determined our starting goalie because they're both playing so well. It's a great decision to have because they are both very capable of leading this team."
The Terrier defense will be put to the test this year as it returns just two upperclassmen from last year's squad. With a unit that allowed just less than 10 goals per game last season, Robertshaw is looking for a more aggressive approach in 2011.
"We have some nice experience back there with our seniors and sophomores who earned some quality playing time last year," said Robertshaw. "We're looking for a more aggressive and stable defense."
Leading the Terriers' defensive corps will be seniors Courtney Burd and Kate Cipolletti. Burd, who sat our last season due to injury, has appeared in 34 games for BU and Cipolletti returns after starting 16 games a season ago.
"Kate and Courtney are very vocal and know the game," added Robertshaw. "They have pride in the way they play and have really taken on the younger players. They push them to new levels."
BU will also look for sophomore Brittany Carlin to continue her strong play and have a breakout year. In 2010, the America East All-Rookie Team member started 16 games as a freshman and was one of only five Terriers with double-digit ground balls, draw controls and caused turnovers.
"Brittany was awesome last year and takes great challenges and risks. She's a very good communicator," Robertshaw said.
The Terriers will also return sophomore Monica Baumgartner, who along with freshmen Shannon Gilroy and Christie Hart, round out the defensive unit.
"The freshmen are just understanding the system, which can be a little overwhelming at times," Robertshaw said. "We've been seeing from great things from our underclassmen, especially Monica and Christie. They both had great falls and I'll think they'll fit into our system well."
In the midfield position, the Terriers return an experienced and talented group, led by seniors Collins and Corcoran Downey and junior Annie Stookesberry.
"We're looking for another great year from Rachel, Corcoran and Annie, "Robertshaw said. "We have some great midfield speed and experience."
The Most Outstanding Player at last year's America East championships, Collins was an America East All-Conference First Team and IWLCA Northeast All-Region First Team member in 2010. The Winchester, Mass., native had a career year, establishing highs in goals (12), assists (9), points (21), caused turnovers (20), ground balls (46) and draw controls (46).
"Rachel is the total package," Robertshaw said. "She works hard both on and off the field. She can play a full game and we're looking to take advantage of her abilities."
Downey returns after a solid junior season where she was also named to the America East All-Conference and IWLCA Northeast All-Region First Teams. Stookesberry, who saw her totals increase during her sophomore season, will also be leaned upon for continued contributions.
The Terriers will also look for the sophomore Kristen Mogavero to provide depth at the position. Last season, Mogavero appeared in all 20 games and was named to the conference's All-Rookie Team.
"Kristen had a nice freshman season and showed that she is feisty and can put the ball into the back of the net," Robertshaw added. "She's also worked hard on her defensive skills and we're excited to see the results."
With the graduation of BU's top three point scorers from a year ago, the Terriers' attack will have big shoes to fill in 2011. However, the return of senior Erica Baumgartner, who missed last season due to injury, will provide a much needed boost to the unit.
"I'm very excited to have Erica back," Robertshaw said. "She knows BU Lacrosse better then anyone on the field. She's an all-conference player and having her back is a huge lift for our team."
The Terriers also return sophomore Danielle Etrasco and junior Hannah Frey, who were BU's fourth and fifth leading scorers, respectively. Etrasco earned All-Rookie Team honors a season ago after collecting 24 points (18g, 6a), while Frey contributed 29 points (27g, 2a).
"Danielle's a lot more comfortable and has really established an attacking presence," Robertshaw added. "She's very creative and has eyes for the cage."
Swain and Tilton will also be looked upon to provide depth to the attacking unit.
"I'm exciting to see nice things from Molly and Catie this year," Robertshaw said. "Look for those two to put points on the board."
There will be a few fresh faces for the BU attack this year with freshmen Nell Burdis, Becca Church and Elizabeth Morse joining the program. Burdis graduated from the Millbrook School as the program's all-time leader in goals and points. Chruch was named first team all-state in Connecticut at Daniel Hand, while Morse earned US Lacrosse First Team All-America status as a senior at Needham High School.
"We're going to look for a more balanced attack, to play together well, set each other up and take some nice challenges," Robertshaw added.
BU will face a challenging schedule in 2011, which includes a tough non-conference slate. The Terriers will face one 2010 NCAA tournament participant and three teams in the IWLCA preseason top 20.
"We have a great schedule this year with quality out-of-region opponents," Robertshaw said. "Playing against Notre Dame, Denver and William & Mary will be a nice test to see how we compare against other conferences' best teams. It will be a great measuring stick for us."
After opening the season against UMass, the Terriers will travel to Brown (March 1) and William & Mary (March 5). BU will then host No. 14 Dartmouth (March 19) and George Mason (March 12), Robertshaw's alma mater.
The Terriers will then head west with matchups against 10th-ranked Notre Dame (March 15) and Denver (March 19). BU will also visit Yale (March 23) before opening up its conference schedule with home matchups against Binghamton (March 26) and UMBC (April 2).
The Terriers will continue their America East schedule at New Hampshire (April 6) before facing crosstown rival No. 19 Boston College (April 13). BU will then host Harvard on April 20 in its last home game of the season.
BU will finish the regular season with road games at Stony Brook (April 23) and Vermont (April 30). The top four teams in the conference will head to the America East semifinals on May 5, with the championship game slated for May 7.