2011 Women's Lacrosse Season Outlook
Feb. 16, 2011
The 2011 season will usher in a new era for Penn State women's lacrosse, as Missy Doherty takes over the reins as the ninth head coach of the NCAA's second winningest program. Considered one of the rising stars in collegiate women's lacrosse, Doherty, who has won five national championships as a player and coach, comes to Happy Valley following a highly successful head coaching stint at Towson University, where she totaled 79 victories in seven seasons.
While the main leadership presence patrolling the sidelines will be different this season, many of the players on the field should be familiar to Nittany Lion fans. The 2011 team is veteran laden, featuring as many as 10 upperclassmen that could be regular starters, including seven seniors.
Overall, returning in 2011 is a squad comprised of 18 letterwinners and eight starters that will be captained by five valued seniors in Ashley Boccio, Maggie Dunbar, Jackie Eastman, Laura Lesnick, and Jen Steadman. Augmenting the roster will be the No. 9-ranked recruiting class in the nation, according to Inside Lacrosse.
"We are extremely lucky to inherit the group that we did," said Doherty. "One of the things that could put this team over the top is the leadership of our senior class. They have bought into what we have been doing and teaching. They are great leaders and they are hard workers. They set an example for the younger players to follow, both physically and mentally. That is something that is hard to coach. That is what gives me confidence for this year. With a senior class like that, we can take off fairly quickly."
"We don't really have one type of attacker on the field, which is nice," said Doherty. "We have some great 1-on-1 players and we have some great feeders. It's a luxury to have that mix. We are not just a one-note offense. That will allow us to take advantage of some different things."
Seniors Maggie Dunbar and Jackie Eastman, an experienced duo that has combined to make 55 career starts, will be key to the transition game. Dunbar, a First Team All-ALC selection last year, is a high-energy competitor who is a force on both ends of the field while Eastman uses her blazing speed to shine as one of the team's best 1-on-1 players.
Sophomore Katie Guy and junior Aly Adams will fulfill a critical role in the midfield, serving as Penn State's top draw specialists. Junior Elaine Welch, a tall and physically strong player, and freshman Lizzy Carney, who had a standout preseason, will be counted on for regular contributions.
"Ashley and Katy have done a great job at leading the defense," said Doherty. "And another positive regarding our defense is that we have a terrific goalkeeper. Dana will be starting for the first time in her career but she has had a strong year so far. Our midfield provides an excellent defense as well, so they can fill in the holes if necessary."
Midfielders Maggie Dunbar, Jackie Eastman, and Katie Guy are all former defenders and have the versatility to make an impact anywhere on the field. Defender Brittaney Chamberlain, who played in a career high 12 games in 2010, and Colleen Shea will also provide the Lions with additional strength at the defensive end.
Promising goalkeeper prospect freshman Melissa Lloyd will serve as Cahill's understudy and will capably fill in if needed.