No. 11 Women's Lacrosse Opens 2006 Season at No. 15 Vanderbilt
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; February 24, 2006 - The No. 11 Penn State women's lacrosse team's quest for an American Lacrosse Conference championship and a return trip to the NCAA postseason begins on Sat., Feb. 25 when it travels to Nashville, Tenn. to face No. 15 Vanderbilt in the Nittany Lions' 2006 season opener at 2:00 p.m. ET. The contest carries added importance for Penn State in that it is one of just five American Lacrosse Conference games.
Coming off a 2005 season highlighted by a 12-5 record, a second-place ALC finish, and an NCAA Championship appearance, Penn State is poised to build on the momentum gained from last year's achievements this season-and all the pieces are in place for that to happen. While seven players from the 2005 team were lost to graduation, Penn State returns an experienced core of veteran starters, including three of its top five scorers and its best defender, and a group of improved reserves ready to push for more playing time. Add to the mix a crop of blue chip recruits and the Lions will be a force to be reckoned within the ALC and nationally in 2006.
Penn State's recent success on the field, in talent development, and in recruiting has not gone unnoticed to followers of collegiate women's lacrosse, as the Lions are garnering national attention in the form of preseason honors. Renee Cipro (Ellicott City, Md.), Lori Havrilla (Devon, Pa.), Jessi Lieb (Villanova, Pa.), and Shari Maslin (New City, N.Y.) were honored on the Inside Lacrosse 2006 Preseason All-American team. Cipro was named a first team preseason All-American, Havrilla and Lieb were recognized on the publication's second team, and Maslin was placed on the third team. Cipro, Havrilla, and Lieb were also voted to the All-American Lacrosse Conference preseason team by the league's coaches. Cipro and Lieb were recently named to the 2006 Tewaaraton Trophy Preseason Watch List, the pre-eminent lacrosse award honoring the top female and male varsity collegiate lacrosse player in the United States.
In its September issue, Inside Lacrosse rated Penn State's group of incoming freshmen as the No. 3 recruiting class in the nation. Headlining the 11 rookies is Kerry Shea, younger sister of current Nittany Lion Linsey Shea. The publication opined, "Agile, fast and handy with the stick, Shea is expected to lead her powerful freshman class and immediately be a force in the American Lacrosse Conference upon arrival in State College." Inside Lacrosse also identified Marisa Lozano as a player to watch and Lauren Burke and Amanda Longobucco as dark horses.
In the American Lacrosse Conference preseason coaches' poll, the Nittany Lions were chosen to finish in second place, behind only 2005 NCAA Champion Northwestern. Penn State garnered 27 votes in the poll, nine behind defending conference title-winner Northwestern and one ahead of Johns Hopkins. In 2005, the Nittany Lions posted a 5-1 conference record, with their only setback coming at the hands of the Wildcats. Saturday's opponent, Vanderbilt, was predicted to place fourth in the league in 2006.
While Saturday's match-up will be the Nittany Lions' season opener, the ALC rival Commodores enter the contest having already played two games, posting a 1-1 record. Vanderbilt opened the year by downing Mt. St. Mary's, 14-5, on Feb. 14 before falling to No. 5 Virginia, 10-9, on Feb. 19.
The Commodores return their top five scorers from last season, headlined by All-ALC preseason team selections Kate Hickman and Margie Curran. Hickman, a senior, and Curran, a sophomore, finished the 2005 season 1-2 in both goals and points, respectively. Curran has scored four goals in each of the Commodores' first two games in 2006. Juniors Kendall Thrift and Jennifer Tapscott and senior co-captain Bryn Sedlacek are also key offensive contributors. Junior co-captain Molly Frew anchors the defense along with sophomore goalkeeper Brooke Shinaberry.
Penn State possesses a 5-3 all-time record versus Vanderbilt in a series that dates back to 1997. A year ago, the Nittany Lions opened the season with a 15-7 victory over the Commodores at home in Holuba Hall. Penn State has not won at Vanderbilt since 1999, a 9-7 victory. Overall, the Lions are 1-2 on the road versus the Commodores.
Penn State remains on the road next week when it travels to Lewisburg, Pa. to take on in-state rival Bucknell on Thurs., March 2 at 5:00 p.m. The Nittany Lions will open the home portion of their 2006 schedule on Sun., March 5 against Patriot League member Colgate. Game time is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. in Holuba Hall.