BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The women’s lacrosse team will open the 2012 season this weekend, hosting Marist on Saturday. Opening draw is set for 3 p.m. in the Ulrich Sports Complex. The Mountain Hawks defeated the Red Foxes in last year’s opener on their way to a 10-7 record and their fifth-straight Patriot League Tournament appearance.
Despite a group of returning veteran leaders, including three First Team All-Patriot League honorees from last season, the 2012 Mountain Hawks feature an extremely young team. A strong freshman class is expected to make an impact at both ends of the field, right from the beginning.
Sophomore goalie Alex Fitzpatrick leads the way between the pipes after a stellar rookie campaign. Her 50.6 save percentage led the Patriot League and was third in the nation, garnering her First Team All-Patriot League honors as a freshman. Fitzpatrick and the defense held their opponents to less than nine goals per contest.
Offensively, the Mountain Hawks look to fill the void left by the Patriot League’s All-Time leader in goals, Lauren Dykstra. Senior Kelly Draper is the team’s leading returning point-getter (57 points: 26 goals, 31 assists), while junior Megan Kelly finished second on the team with 35 goals. A number of freshmen look to crack the starting lineup, led by Carli Sukonik. Lauren Murray will bring veteran leadership and experience, as well as 54 career points, as she makes the switch to attack from midfield for her senior season. The Brown and White look to continue their offensive prowess after averaging 13.59 goals-per-game last season.
Co-captains Leigh Ann Torcivia and Julie McBrien will anchor the midfield. Torcivia, a senior, was named the Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year after scooping a team-high 41 groundballs and posting 43 draw controls last season. McBrien, a junior, will add a scoring touch from the midfield position, looking to build on her 18 goals and 11 assists from a season ago.
The Mountain Hawks anticipate a lot of depth in the defensive end, with junior and backup goalkeeper MaryLeah DiNisco challenging for defensive playing time, along with senior Anna Pierce and junior Kenzie Dambach, who missed all of last season due to injury after earning Second Team All-Patriot League honors as a freshman. A promising group of freshmen, including Michelle Abramczyk, Kelly Scott and Lauren Willcox, who are expected to contribute defensively.
Lehigh is 2-1 all time against Marist, who went 6-10 last season, including 2-4 in the MAAC. That came just one season after the Red Foxes won the MAAC to advance to the NCAA Tournament. Marist returns 10-of-12 starters from 2011, including 163-of-165 goals, for second-year head coach Jessica O’Brien’s squad.
The game is slated to start at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Ulrich Sports Complex following the men’s lacrosse game against #10 Villanova. The Mountain Hawks will return to action next Saturday (Feb. 25) at Delaware.