Women's Lacrosse Picked Second In CAA Preseason Poll
By ODU Athletics
March 5, 2004
NORFOLK, VA -- The Lady Monarch women's lacrosse team, which posted a perfect 7-0 conference record a year ago and were ranked 19th in the 2004 IWLCA preseason poll, were picked second in the CAA Preseason Poll as determined by the league's head coaches.
The defending CAA champions, the James Madison Dukes received six first-place votes and a total of 48 points in the poll, while last year's runner-up Old Dominion received a pair of first-place votes and was picked second with a total of 40 points. George Mason and Hofstra each received a total of 34 points in third, followed by Delaware in fifth, William and Mary and Towson in a sixth-place tie and Drexel in eighth.
Madison, which is ranked eighth in the latest Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) Top 20 poll, is coming of its seventh NCAA appearance in the last nine years and welcomes back a solid core of veterans, including 2003 second-team All-American Gail Decker and 2003 CAA Defender of the Year Jessica Beard. Decker tied for the team-lead with 70 points a season ago and has been named to the "watch list" for the 2004 Tewaaraton Trophy, given to the nation's top lacrosse player. The Dukes will once again play one of the nation's stronger schedules, featuring games against nationally-ranked opponents Virginia, Dartmouth, Penn State, Loyola and Notre Dame.
The Old Dominion women's lacrosse team took an giant step towards its goals of winning a Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Championship and a bid to the NCAA Tournament last year as they ended the year with a 12-4 overall record and the regular season conference title with a perfect 7-0 record. This season, the Lady Monarchs are hoping, with nine starters and 17 letterwinners returning to the turf for 2004, that the Old Dominion will able to take that extra step its been striving for.
As with tradition with the Lady Monarch lacrosse team, ranked 15th in Lacrosse Magazine's Preseason Poll will not shy away from a tough slate in 2004. Last season, Old Dominion picked up two wins over Top 20 teams and is looking to capture more W's this season to help them with a bid to the 16-team NCAA Tournament. Highlighting this year's schedule are Preseason Top 10 opponents, Virginia, Maryland and CAA rival and defending champion, James Madison. North Carolina, who Old Dominion will face for the first time in school history, and Rutgers are also two non-conference opponents who should strengthen the Lady Monarch schedule and add to the excitement of this year's contests.
As always, the CAA will provide formidable opponents for Old Dominion this season, as the Lady Monarchs look to retain their regular season title and once again bring the conference tournament back to Foreman Field.
The offense will once again be led by the two-time national scoring leader Suzanne Wosczyna. In three years with the Lady Monarchs, the senior midfielder has obtained a slew of school records and continues to climb up the charts. Entering last season, she had already become Old Dominion's all-time assist leader and last year she shattered the all-time career points record. This season, the Lady Monarchs' two-time All-American, is poised to top the all-time goals leaders list after registering a team-leading 45 points, 32 goals, and 77 points in 12 games last year.
Wosczyna will have plenty of help up front with junior Melody Shotwell and seniors Janine Rodriguez and Molly Coane on hand to bolster the attack unit. Shotwell, a Second Team All-CAA member, exploded onto the scene as a starter last year with a team second best 43 goals and 52 points. She filled the void left by Wosczyna when she went down with a shoulder injury early in the season and had several high scoring output games throughout the year. Among her highlights included a seven goal outburst against then 20th ranked Richmond, four goals against Delaware in a 12-11 battle for first place in the CAA, and three-game winning goals. Rodriguez has been a consistent performer for the Lady Monarchs throughout her career, as she too makes her way up the Old Dominion record charts. In 2004, Rodriguez should continue her consistent ways and be one of the top Lady Monarchs on the stat sheet. The senior attacker poured in 21 goals and 13 assists for 34 points and scooped up 22 groundballs a year ago. Coane, a fellow senior midfielder, will look to be a vital force not only offensively, but defensively as well. She has the skills to become one of the top scorers for the Lady Monarchs in 2004 as evident of her 13 goals and five assists from last season. Coane will also be a force to reckon with defensively as she recorded 26 groundballs, 13 draw controls, and six caused turnovers and returns as one of the leaders in each of those categories this season. Also adding to the Lady Monarch offense with be senior Erin Lindsey, who made her comeback to the turf after sitting out the 2002 campaign with an injury. Last year she collected 13 groundballs, was a key member on transition and added in 12 goals.
The defense has grown stronger as last year's young backfield unit gained a tremendous amount of experience and put another year under their belts. Last season the defense held four opponents to single digit scoring and clamped down on the opponent offense in many tight games. Senior Kelly Jefferys along with junior Valerie Gooch comprised the most experienced members of the defense. Jefferys, also an academic standout, is a tenacious defender whose efforts go beyond the stat sheet. Last year she racked up 16 groundballs and was among the squad's leader in caused turnovers with nine. Gooch saw limited time in her season, but rose to the task when she entered last year's starting line-up. Appearing and starting all 16 games a year ago, Gooch grabbed 10 groundballs and caused five turnovers.
Also adding to the defense will be sophomore Sarah Wosczyna and junior Cassie Connor, both who made major impacts as members of the starting line-up. Wosczyna, younger sister of Old Dominion leading scorer Suzanne, suited up for her first full season ending the year with 18 groundballs, four caused turnovers, and seven draw controls. Connor, who made eight starts, added five groundballs and five draws last season.
Michelle Gannon, Old Dominion's sophomore goalkeeper is also back. In her very first season with the Lady Monarchs, Gannon played all 960 minutes of action and posted 160 saves, the most by any Old Dominion netminder since 1997.
A host of underclassmen and freshmen are also eager to take the turf and help the Lady Monarchs on their quest for a championship title under two-time CAA Coach of the Year, Sue Stahl. They will add to Old Dominion depth and be relied upon to give the Lady Monarchs the extra spark off the bench.
The season gets underway on March 6th at American and the Lady Monarchs host UMBC and Richmond in the first games at home at Foreman Field. Other home games include Temple, Lafayette, and North Carolina, along with defending CAA champs James Madison, Delaware, and Towson in conference action. On Sunday April 18th, the Lady Monarchs will partake in their annual scholarship game and join US Lacrosse in hosting an annual clinic for girls throughout the Hampton Roads area. The Lady Monarchs have an equally challenging time on the road as they travel to annual powerhouses Maryland, Virginia along with an up-and-coming Rutgers squad to go along with conference games versus George Mason, Hofstra, Drexel, and William & Mary.
2004 CAA WOMEN'S LACROSSE PRESEASON COACHES POLL
1. James Madison (6) 48
2. Old Dominoin (2) 40
3. George Mason 34
5. Delaware 25
6. Towson 18
William & Mary 18
8. Drexel 7
Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team.