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2004 Elizabethtown College
The Elizabethtown College women's lacrosse team commences its third season of existence in 2004, and the Blue Jays find themselves in a promising position for continued improvement. Part of this simply has to do with the fact that the team is a little older and a little wiser than in its first two years. Many of the team's juniors, the members of the inaugural team in 2002, are entering their third year as starters. Head coach Aimee Seward is quick to point out that the team's juniors all 11 of them have all raised their level of play since last season. Despite this, the team remains younger than most and has no seniors this year.
This team's greater maturity and experience culled from the previous two seasons enables it to challenge itself more, as Seward has the Blue Jays working on different attacks and defenses. Defensively, the team has become very good at one-on-one defense. They are very good at moving their feet on defense, according to Seward, and the team is trying to make its defensive efforts foul-free. One of the team's key strengths remains in draw controls as the Blue Jays are, after all, the defending national statistical champions in the category.
Another signpost of the team's continued improvement is the fact that it is taking its first-ever spring break training trip this year. The team has retreated to Orlando, FL for the first week of March, a move that Seward has called necessary, especially with the snow we get up here. Last year, Etown was not able to practice on its home field until the middle of March due to persistent snow cover. Hand in hand with the spring break trip is an increasingly ambitious schedule: the Blue Jays open their 2004 season in Orlando March 4 against Le Moyne College, and NCAA Division I program that reached the NCAA D-I tournament last year and fell in the opening round to Princeton University.
This is also the season where the Blue Jays settle into their new home: Ira R. Herr Field. One of the country's premier NCAA Division III natural grass soccer stadiums and the host site of three NCAA soccer Final Fours is now one of the country's premier NCAA Division III women's lacrosse stadiums as well, and the move is the source of a great deal of excitement on the team.
Among the Blue Jays' 11 juniors, ten of them played last year, and all 11 of them were members of the original 2002 team. From that group, two All-Middle Atlantic Conference players return this year: attacker Liz Fretz (Parkerford, PA/Owen J. Roberts) and defender/midfielder Sarah Scholl (Forest Hill, MD/John Carroll School). Fretz is a two-time all-conference honoree who reached the 100 career goal plateau as a sophomore in 2003 and who had 73 draw controls in a single season last year, and Scholl earned a spot on the All-MAC first team last year after scooping up a team-high of 43 ground balls and causing another team-high of 40 turnovers last year. Scholl was nationally ranked in the latter statistical category in 2003. She also had 31 draw controls, third-best on the team, and six goals and six assists. Fretz, with 109 career goals through two seasons, could reach the 150 career goal milepost as a junior.
Junior attacker Jen Manns (Wilmington, DE/Brandywine) led Etown in assists with 17, was second on the team in goals scored with 38, and was third on the team in ground balls with 39 last year. With 69 career goals, she has a chance to become the second Blue Jay to hit the 100 mark this season. Fellow junior attacker Jackie Brenton (Laurel, MD/St. Vincent Pallotti) shook off injuries to tally six goals and six assists in 2003.
Five juniors return in the Etown midfield in 2004. Ally Edel (Bel Air, MD/John Carroll School) finished second on the team in assists (16), ground balls (42), draw controls (32) and points (36) last year while scoring 20 goals, causing 27 turnovers and starting all 14 games. Amanda Simpson (Aberdeen, MD/Aberdeen) also started all 14 games last year, scored 23 goals and had five assists for 28 points, and she had 31 ground balls and 21 caused turnovers. Stephanie Boyle (Folsom, PA/Ridley) finished second on the team in caused turnovers last year with 33, and she grabbed 28 ground balls and tallied six goals and seven assists for 13 points in 14 games started. Dana White (Freeland, MD/Hereford) totaled eight goals and two assists for 10 points in 2003 while tallying 22 ground balls, 22 caused turnovers, and 17 draw controls in 14 starts. Fellow junior Tessa Troop (Manheim, PA/Hempfield) has added a spark to the Blue Jay midfield from off the bench in the last two years as well.
Defensively, in addition to Scholl, two other juniors return to the Blue Jay backfield. Ashley Owen (Gaithersburg, MD/Magruder) started all 14 games in 2003, scooped up 20 ground balls and caused 12 turnovers. Mary Romig (Pottstown, PA/Owen J. Roberts), a member of the original 2002 team, was sidelined for the entire 2003 season by injuries.
The Blue Jays also return four sophomores from last year. Midfielder Michelle Collier (Plymouth Meeting, PA/Plymouth Whitemarsh) and defender Leah Robinson (Huntingtown, MD/Calvert) both started all 14 games as first-years in 2003. Collier, who played defense last year, is switching to more of a midfield role this year due to her overall skills improvement. Defenders Jignasha Patel (Mechanicsburg, PA/Cumberland Valley) and Danielle Grooms (Frederick, MD/Gov. Thomas Johnson) both played as reserves last year, and Grooms, according to Seward, will likely be seeing the field a lot more in 2004.
Playing in the goal this year in her first season for Etown is sophomore Kelly O'Connor (Newtown, CT/Westover School). A group of four first-years also joins the team in 2004. According to Seward, It is a small class but not small on talent by any means. Defender Jenna Brown (Media, PA/Penncrest) was a three-sport athlete in high school, midfielder and defender Angie Eder (Eldersburg, MD/McDonogh School) was the 2003 lacrosse Coaches' Award winner as well as a three-sport athlete at McDonogh, midfielder Odessa Armstrong (Pasadena, MD/Northeast) was a first-team all-county selection her senior year and a second-team all-county honoree her junior year in high school, and Abigail Weese (Baltimore, MD/St. Timothy's School) joins the team as a defender.
Coming into the 2004 season, the team's goal is to continue to improve its position in the Middle Atlantic Conference and finish better than last year's conference mark of 4-6.