LANCASTER, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall's women's lacrosse team has a new coaching staff, installed a new offense and added new defensive schemes to go along with a roster filled with underclassmen. Despite all the changes, the expectations remain the same in Lancaster – win the Centennial Conference (CC) and make the NCAA Tournament.
"We are talented enough to compete for the Centennial title and make the NCAA Tournament," said head coach Mike Faith. "Once we make the dance, we have a good chance of making a deep run. Our success will depend on how well the team learns the new schemes and based off practice so far this year, we look to be headed in the right direction."
Faith starts his first season at helm after spending eight years at nearby Elizabethtown College. He brings a 97-48 career mark to F&M and a track record of building successful teams. Faith took E-Town to seven conference tournaments and won two conference titles and expects to do same at F&M.
"F&M is one of the most successful women's lacrosse programs in the country and I look forward to continuing that excellence," Faith said.
The key to any successful team is the play of the defense. F&M boasts the most experience on that side of the field with three returning starters to anchor a unit that ranked second in CC last year with an 8.68 goals against average.
Kelsey Hoffman returns in the net for F&M after finishing last year with a 13-3 record. The junior had an 8.87 goals against average with 102 saves, and 2013 looks to be a breakout year for the three-year starter. Freshman Kaitlin Hardt will look to push Hoffman and will also see time between the pipes.
Senior captain Jen Noon returns as a defender for the third year and she is joined by junior Christie Bonfiglio. Noon was third on the team last season with 29 ground balls and forced 12 turnovers while Bonfiglio collected 15 draws with 15 groundballs.
F&M also brings a wealth of experience to the midfield position with three players that saw action in 14 contests last season. Senior captain Maggie Mae Shields along with juniors Kara Stanley and Mary Mitchell will start for F&M.
Shields tallied 13 goals, handed out five assists and led the team with 34 draw controls last season. Stanley picked up 13 draws and added five goals while Mitchell found the net 22 times and handed out 10 assists. She also came away with 26 draws and picked up 20 groundballs.
Sophomore Casey Madden and Emily D'Erasmo saw limited time last season, but will be called upon more this year as will freshman Anastasia Mergner. Freshman Tamara Mills and sophomore Christie Huidekoper will also look to play at the midfield position.
Krohn ranked fourth on team with 24 goals and handed out 15 assists last season. She had a .828 shot on goal percentage, 22 draw controls and 11 ground balls and was named to Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) All-Metro Region Second Team and received Honorable Mention from the CC. Selawski had 23 points (16g, 7a) while Kelly finished 2012 with eight goals and eight assists.
Sophomores Kimberly Abruzzo and Emily Everdell will battle for a starting spot as well. Abruzzo found the net five times in seven contests and Everdell finished with four points (2g, 2a) a season ago.
Joining Faith on the sideline this year are Christina Fried and Nora McGurkin.
The Diplomats have a difficult schedule and getting back to the dance will not be an easy task. Eight schools ranked in the top-20 show up on F&M's slate this year, including the first five of the season.
The Diplomats kickoff the season on Tuesday when F&M hosts No. 9 York at 4:00 p.m.