Returning from a year’s sabbatical that promoted first year coach Alix Rorke to the helm of the 2001 women’s lacrosse team, Chris Mason returns this spring for her 18th season and will guide an extremely talented and battle-tested Eph squad.
“It’s great to be back and I could not ask for a better assistant coach than Alix,” said Mason. “It will be good for me and the team to have her with us this season and for many seasons to come.” Rorke guided the 2001 Ephs to a 13-3 record, including an ECAC-New England Championship and a trip to the NESCAC semifinals.
Perhaps most essential to the success of the 2002 campaign is the need to replace 2001 captain, first team All-American defender Sarah Commito ’01. Commito’s role as the defensive enforcer will be greatly missed, but preseason All-American Kathryn Doherty ’03 returns. Doherty will look to improve on her impressive 2001 season, during which she netted 33 goals and assisted on three more (36 points). She was recognized as a second team All-NESCAC and All-American. Doherty and co-captain Molly Venter ’02 will lead the Eph defense this spring. Also important to the success of the Ephs “D” will be the play of Moonjoo Han ’03, Lindsay Holland ’04 and Becca Kiselwich ’04.
Stef Noering ’03 returns to lead the attack. Noering netted 31 goals and assisted on nine more to finish with 40 points last season. Tori Scott ’04 also returns, having scored 13 goals and registered five assists (18 points) a year ago. Jen Ashkenazi ’03, who netted two goals in 2001 and assisted on six others, is also back along with Leanne McManama ’03. McManama assisted on six goals and scored five last season. Tara Boyd ’05 and Amy Wicker ’05 are also expected to see quality time up front. Mason can also call on Molly Jennings ’04 and Kate Leonard ’03 at attack wing. Jennings had 21 goals and six assists (27 points) and Leonard tallied 15 goals and assisted on two last spring.
Leading the talented Eph midfield will be co-captain and preseason All-American Heather Black ’02. Black is coming off a 2001 season in which she led the Ephs in assists with 26 and points with 58. Black is expected to again establish herself as a dominant player in the conference.
She was recognized in 2001 as a first team All-NESCAC and as a second team ECAC All-New England pick. Black plays the key position of center where she is called upon to lead the Eph attack and make a strong contribution on defense.
In goal, the Ephs return first team All-NESCAC goalie and three-sport athlete Abi Jackson ’03. In the 16 Eph contests last season, Jackson allowed 102 goals and totaled 168 saves, a 62.2 percent save percentage. Her goals-against-average, at 6.32, was second in the conference. Ann Woods ’05 was impressive during preseason workouts and will serve as a valuable backup to Jackson.
The 2002 Eph season will once again boil down to performing well against NESCAC opponents. In Lacrosse Magazine’s preseason poll, Mason’s squad is one of six NESCAC teams in the top 20, and one of three NESCAC schools in the top four. Defending champion Middlebury is tops in the poll, with arch-rival Amherst occupying the second spot. The College of New Jersey follows at the number three while Williams is fourth.
In the last six years at least one NESCAC team has advanced to the NCAA title game and twice both of the finalists have been from NESCAC. Mason is no stranger to NCAA competitions as in both 1998 and 2000 she led the Ephs to a second place finish in the NCAA Tournament.