Women's lacrosse set to defend NESCAC title

WATERVILLE, Maine -- Colby College women's lacrosse will begin defense of its New England Small College Athletic Conference title Saturday with plenty of returning talent—and some promising newcomers—for 11th-year head coach Karen Henning.

Colby opens the 2018 season Saturday at home against Amherst College at noon. 

The ninth-ranked Mules had everything come together a year ago with playoff wins over Wesleyan University, Middlebury College, and then Trinity College in the league championship game. The team finished 15-4 overall, earned the automatic bid to the NCAA tourney, and went 7-0 in away games.

"I'm looking forward to this year. We have a motivated, enthusiastic group of athletes focused on getting better every day," said Henning, the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association Regional Coach of the Year last season. "Our upperclassmen are showing the way with their leadership and hard work. Our first-years are transitioning quickly to the college game, which is incredibly exciting for all of us."  

Despite some key losses to graduation, Colby returns four all-region players in Jackie Brokaw (Waterbury, Conn.), Melinda Edie (Dedham, Mass.), Sasha Fritts (Darien, Conn.), and Kendall Smith (Glen Ridge, N.J.). Meanwhile, the Mules also return captains Kelsey Bowen (Braintree, Mass.), Sam Burch (Mountain Lakes, N.J.), and Maddie Hatch (Wilbraham, Mass.).

Colby returns seven of its top nine scorers from last year's 232-goal squad. Smith, a senior, was tied for third in the NESCAC in goals (48) and tied for sixth in total points (55). Fritts, another senior, was seventh in the league in goals (43) and ninth in points (52). 

Hatch (pictured) had a breakout season with 19 goals, 14 assists, 24 ground balls, 12 caused turnovers, and tied for a team-best 38 draw controls. Bowen (12 goals, 9 assists), Emma Banks (11 goals, 2 assists, North Haven, Conn.), and Grace Crowell (7 goals, 2 assists, Medfield, Mass.) were other leading scorers.

Colby's biggest losses may have come on defense, with midfielder and NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year Emilie Klein graduating among others. However, Brokaw is a past All-American and a three-time all-region selection in back. She was second on the team in both ground balls (28) and caused turnovers (22) last season. Edie started all 19 games as a first-year and finished with 27 ground balls, 16 draw controls, and 15 caused turnovers.

Sophomores Kayla Luparello (Bedford Hills, N.Y.), Kelsey Otley (Cumberland Center, Maine), and first-year Merritt Davie (Glen Ridge, N.J.) are other candidates to start on defense. Senior Rebecca Moore (Concord, Mass.), sophomore Kristin Yorke (Fair Haven, N.J.), and first-year Emily Schaefer (Glen Rock, N.J.) provide depth in back.  

Colby has plenty of depth and experience in goal with junior Izzy Scribano, senior Sam Burch, and first-year Hannah Marino. Scribano was fourth in the conference in goals against average (7.48), fourth in total saves (109), and fifth in save percentage (47.8) while starting 15 games. Burch had four starts and played in seven games. Marino will battle for the starting position.

While Hatch and Bowen will anchor the midfield, Colby has plenty of depth in the middle. Crowell was third in draw controls (25) and had 11 caused turnovers. 

Senior Hannah Newhall (Cape Elizabeth, Maine), junior Kate Burkett (Larchmont, N.Y.) and sophomore Julia Maser (Princeton, N.J.) also return in the midfield. First-years Gwen Geisler (West Hartford, Conn.), Shannon Groskoph (Summit, N.J.), Grace Langmuir (Providence, R.I.), Amelia Lubrano (Hanover, N.H.), and Lyla Jones (McLean, Va.) are expected to either start or see quality minutes. Lubrano is the sister of Georgia Lubrano '17, an all-region defender and captain during her playing days.

Smith and Fritts will supply the offense, but the Mules still need consistent scoring. Banks and juniors Bridget Horwood (Scarsdale, N.Y.), McGara DeWan (Glen Rock, N.J.), and Banks Dotson (Houston, Texas) will be counted on for goals. DeWan was tied for third on the Mules in draw controls (25).

First-years Taylor Moore (Weston, Conn.), Ellie Hedison (Acton, Mass.), Olivia McCabe (Weston, Mass.), and Robyn Pirie (Ipswich, Mass.) will join the attack.

After the opener against Amherst, the Mules play two games next weekend against teams ranked in the top 13. The Mules are at 13th-ranked Hamilton on Saturday at noon. They meet fifth-ranked William Smith College on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Hamilton.