Lacrosse Preview 2009: Tribe sets high standards for season

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February 16, 2009

11:52 PM

A young but experienced College of William and Mary squad returns 10 starters from last year’s CAA runner-up team. Having selected “leave nothing” as its theme for the 2009 season, it should not come as a shock to see the Tribe competing for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

The talented group was picked second in the CAA preseason coaches poll behind 2008 league-champion Towson University. The College captured the conference’s regular season title in 2008, winning 8 of its final 11 games and finishing 20th in the final Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association poll.

“We are very athletic, fast and strong,” Head Coach Christine Halfpenny said. “Probably the most athletic team that William and Mary lacrosse team has been in quite some time … We haven’t looked this good, this early, since I’ve been here.”

The Tribe’s returning talent and experience have the team chasing three lofty goals.

“Our first [goal] is to win CAAs and to host them,” sophomore goalkeeper Emily Geary said. “To be in the top 10 [in the country] and to make it to the NCAA tournament.”

Halfpenny also added that the Tribe wants to win its first-ever NCAA Tournament game.

A sophomore trio of preseason all-conference team members consisting of attacker Ashley Holofcener, midfielder Grace Golden and Geary will lead the College this spring. All told, six players, who started every match on last season’s 10-9, 5-3 CAA team, will return to the field for the College, allowing the Tribe to play more aggressively.

“We are running an offense and a defense that both have attacking mindsets,” Geary said. “We want to dictate to the other team and not let them dictate to us.”

Halfpenny thinks how the team plays at the end of March will indicate the direction her team’s season takes.

The Tribe opens conference play on the road against Towson April 3. Then the team will have a chance to live up to its “leave nothing” mentality and take a shot at the defending CAA champions.

Breaking down the Tribe

Golden, last year’s CAA rookie of the year and first-team All-CAA member, headlines the deepest midfield in recent Tribe history. She scored 45 goals and recorded 10 assists last season and will play alongside senior Claire Dennis and sophomores Sara Jonson and Molly Wannen, who both made the switch from the backline to the midfield in the offseason.

“Sara Jonson and Molly Wannen are going to turn some heads in the midfield,” Halfpenny said. “They are very smart and their speed and knowledge coupled with all the defensive experience they gained last year will make our midfield very strong.”

Upfront, Holofcener and fellow sophomore attacker Maggie Anderson will lead the charge for the Tribe. Anderson finished third on the team with 36 goals in 2008, while Holofcener’s 42 points placed her third in total points.

Geary anchors a deep backline that includes senior defender Kate Lawlor and sophomore defender Emma Starnes. The duo had a combined 34 starts in 38 matches last season on a defense that allowed 10 goals or fewer in 7 of its last 12 contests.

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