GW Lacrosse Opens 2014 at Home on Wednesday
Colonials In Search of Program-Record Third Straight A-10 Championship Bid
Feb. 10, 2014
WASHINGTON - Following a season in which George Washington lacrosse secured an Atlantic 10 Championship bid for the second consecutive year for the first time in program history, the Colonials look to improve upon last year's feats and continue to make history as they enter 2014.
GW returns 19 letterwinners from the 2013 team that went 9-8 overall and 4-3 in the Atlantic 10, highlighted by four all-conference selections - juniors Jamie Bumgardner and Jenn Seitz and sophomores Olivia Boudreau and Julia Lawson. The Colonials lost just four players to graduation last spring and with the addition nine talented newcomers, seventh-year Head Coach Tara Hannaford's team is prepared to prove its worth within the league.
"It was great for our players to create program history with back-to-back championship appearances but it is our expectation to improve upon that," Hannaford said. "We have a lot of experienced players on this team and they all have an understanding of what we want to accomplish as a collective unit. We want to take the next step as a program and we do that by improving on a day-to-day basis."
The Colonials competed in fall ball tournaments and hit the field in January while on a two-week trip of a lifetime in Australia and got to compete against top South Australian competition. After landing seven players on conference postseason teams one year ago, the most since 2007, GW was selected to finish third in the 2014 Atlantic 10 preseason poll and looks to reach the conference championship for an unprecedented three straight years.
"The number of all-conference selections says a lot about where our program is headed. We are bringing in players who are going to compete and push their teammates each and every day," she said. "Earning individual accolades is always great, but our team is very focused about what it is achieving as a whole and everyone wants to take that next step as a unit."
A group of veterans brings a wealth of experience to the front line this season as GW returns six of its top seven attackers, including Bumgardner, who led all scorers with 57 points and tied the Colonials' single-season record with 39 assists, which paced the A-10 and tied for 14th in NCAA Division I. The Colonials also return junior Rachel Mia (31 g, 2 a), senior Jordy Bathras (19 g, 7 a), junior Allie Rash (12 g, 11 a) and Boudreau (15 g, 7 a) for a well-rounded attack.
"We have some more weapons up front this season and we will put forward a different look," said Hannaford. "We have become more versatile in the attack and we have a lot of people who can drive to the goal as well as feed the ball."
Sophomore Gabbi Hull and rookie Michaela Lynch are also expected to contribute valuable minutes and make a big impact this season, along with senior co-captain Terasa Vassallo who will rotate between the attack and the midfield.
One key to GW's success this season will be the ability to be effective on both sides of the ball as the deep midfield will allow them to easily rotate between attack-minded play and transition defense. Bathras will be looked at to push the fast break and find the back of the net while senior Lindsey DiAntonio, sophomore Ellie Glasgow and Vassallo will serve as both offensive and defensive threats in the center of the field.
"There is a great rotation of midfielders that will make a difference on both ends of the field," Hannaford said. "We have a lot of players who are going to contribute and we will be able to create a lot of opportunities for players."
An experienced quartet of Seitz, Lawson, senior co-captain Madison Pohle and sophomore Cara Dellavecchia will anchor the back line. Along with juniors Rachel Quinn and Jacqui Stevens, sophomore Becca Taub and rookie Natalie Maher, the Colonials are poised for a solid defensive unit in front of the net.
"I am really excited about our defenders because they are a strong core group that fights for every play," said Hannaford. "They go after every 50/50 ball, they are solid with 1-v-1, they grab draw controls and push the fast break."
The Colonials lost all-conference second team goalkeeper Jess Hicks to graduation but have two players who will vie for a spot between the pipes. Junior Mackenzie Jones has seen action in eight games the past two seasons and has tallied 20 saves while rookie Erin Long saw quality time in goal on GW's Australian tour.
GW has put together a competitive 2014 schedule that features three 2013 NCAA Tournament qualifiers and nationally ranked opponents per the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) Preseason Poll. The Colonials will host 10 games at the GW Lacrosse Field on the Mount Vernon Campus, including their season opener against crosstown foe Howard on Wednesday, Feb. 12.
Following nine non-conference contests, which includes No. 18 Navy and No. 17 Denver, the Buff and Blue open A-10 play on Friday, April 4 at Duquesne. GW hosts league newcomer George Mason on Friday, April 18, which will add more intensity to the local rivalry.
"The conference is always competitive and it continues to get stronger as we move forward," Hannaford said. "League play is always tough from top to bottom and it makes for a fun atmosphere. Our expectation is to be in the A-10 Championship. It is always a challenge and a fight but we are excited to take that next step as a program."
The four-team 2014 Atlantic 10 Lacrosse Championship will be held at Richmond's Robins Stadium from Friday, May 2 -Sunday, May 4.
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