GW Aims for First A-10 Championship Berth
Feb. 11, 2005
The Colonials enter 2005 with their sights set on qualifying for the Atlantic 10 Championship for the first time. GW has the talent and the experience to make that goal reality. Newly appointed head coach Chrissy Lombard returns 11 starters from a 2004 team that established a team record for wins (8) and scored a program-best 185 goals. The Colonials' roster is stocked with nine seniors that have been in the program since its inception in 2002 and 16 returning letterwinners from last year.
One of the those seniors, team captain and 2004 Atlantic 10 All-Conference selection Erin Berry, will anchor GW's defensive unit. She is the only Colonial to start all 48 games in team history and is GW's career leader in ground balls (132) and caused turnovers (99).
"Erin is someone we can look to when we need a spark," Lombard said. "She's the backbone of our defense."
Midfielder and fellow captain Nicole Cozzolino, along with sophomore Kimberly Andreola will flank Berry on defense. Cozzolino started 16 games last season and will most likely mark the opposition's key attacker around the cage. Lombard expects Andreola to more effectively use her size and speed to slow down opponents' transition games now that she has a year of experience under her belt.
Midfielder Jamie Lee will shift to a more defensive role this season after registering 26 goals and 30 total points in 2004, joining sophomore Molly Gannon and senior Deena Vezo as key contributors in GW's defensive midfield. Seniors Lia Harris and Mary Monaghan, along with freshman Katelyn Honeyford will add depth to the unit.
Sophomore goalkeeper Emily Fortunato played every minute for the Colonials between the pipes as a freshman last season and set the school's single-season record for saves (162). Lombard will look to Fortunato to shift GW in and out of its defenses and develop into a more vocal leader this year. Lombard also brought in two freshman goalies in Baltimore, MD native Caitlin Garman and Villanova, PA product Teddi Shihadeh. Garman recorded more than 600 saves at The Friends School, and both players will challenge Fortunato for playing time.
Senior midfielder and captain Jenny Heisler will use her quickness to help GW transition from defense to offense. Heisler tied the single-season record with 17 assists in 2004 and finished second on the team with 37 points. Most of those assists went to midfield-mate Laura Hostetler. Hostetler, a sophomore, took home A-10 Rookie of the Year honors last season after setting the school records for points (62) and goals (45) in a season. She also notched 17 assists, tying Heisler for that single-season standard.
"Laura is going to get a lot of attention from team's trying to slow her down," Lombard said. "She can be a great asset for us this season drawing double teams and then feeding others the ball."
The Colonials' offense will be hampered by the loss of junior midfielder Lauren Bower, who will miss the 2005 season with an injury. Bower finished third on the squad last year with 32 points, but Lombard is confident others will step up in her absence. Two players Lombard hopes will elevate their games are Meghan McDonough and Heidi Mayer. McDonough, a team captain, will shift to a more offensive role in 2005 and Mayer, who finished tied for third on the team with 20 goals last season while battling injuries, is completely healthy now. Junior attacker Colleen Schmidt will also contribute on offense.
Lombard expects McDonough's sister, Hayley, to compete for starting spot in the midfield right away and the rookie coach brought in two players, Laura Wunk and Lindsay Melvin, from national high school power Mt. Hebron in Maryland that will push for playing time.
Junior Annie Howley transferred to GW from the University of Maryland and Lombard has been impressed with the velocity and accuracy of her shot and believes she will compete for a starting position. Sophomore Meredith Hotarek and freshmen Kristin Karcsh and Gabby Letterel will bring talent and depth to the squad.
The Colonials will play a challenging schedule again this season. They open the year at home against William & Mary on March 1 as part of a three-game homestand. Their next four games are on the road, including a showdown with perennial power Johns Hopkins on March 25. GW returns home on March 30 to face Towson before competing at A-10 rival Richmond on April 1. Six consecutive home dates follow the Colonials' pairing with the Spiders before they end the regular season at Massachusetts (March 24) and at defending conference champion Temple on May 1.