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2005 Elizabethtown College
2005 marks the fourth season of competition for the Elizabethtown College women's lacrosse program, and it is the first season for head coach Mike Faith. Upon taking the reins of the program last fall, he noticed certain traits right away. This is a very hard working team, he said. They do everything I ask of them, he continued, and they are willing to be challenged and taught new things. This team, which for the first time has a senior class, has been learning a lot over the last few months. The team has been learning a different kind of offense and a more aggressive style of defense, along with different stick skills. It's a big adjustment, said Faith, but they come to work every day.
Faith is quick to credit the leadership of the Blue Jays' eight seniors in helping the team make some difficult transitions in playing style. The senior class has been through a lot, he said. Recruited by one coach, the current seniors found themselves with a different, interim head coach as first-year students at Etown. They had another head coach in their sophomore and junior years, and now, as seniors, they have a new head coach asking them to make major adjustments in how they approach the game, and they have responded with enthusiasm. All the underclassmen look up to them because of the road they've traveled, and they have stuck it out. Now they've been asked to change a lot in their approach, he said, and they have gone with it.
Defensively, look for this year's team to be more aggressive than in years past. On offense, said Faith, we will push the ball when we have it on fast breaks, but overall our offense will be more settled. In addition to learning a new playing style, the Blue Jays have been hard at work this pre-season on stick work and conditioning, as the team is taking a fundamentals-oriented approach.
The Blue Jays' key strengths in 2005 appear to be their work ethic and their speed. With their work ethic, there is no doubt that this is a team that will play hard for 60 minutes every game. With the Blue Jays' speed, we're pretty fast, said Faith, so we can get the ball up field on transition. With stick skills, transition will hopefully be a strength because of our speed.
Etown's defense will set the tone for the team on the field this year, anchored by junior goaltender Kelly O'Connor (Newtown, CT/Westover School), who will dictate how we play, according to Faith. The leaders of the defense look to be senior Sarah Scholl (Forest Hill, MD/John Carroll School), a 2003 All-Middle Atlantic Conference team member and the program's first-ever IWLCA Academic Honor Roll member, and senior Ashley Owen (Gaithersburg, MD/Col. Zodak Magruder).
Midfield will likely find seniors Amanda Simpson (Aberdeen, MD/Aberdeen) and Dana White (Freeland, MD/Hereford), juniors Danielle Grooms (Frederick, MD/Gov. Thomas Johnson) and Michelle Collier (Plymouth Meeting, PA/Plymouth Whitemarsh), and sophomore Angie Eder (Eldersburg, MD/McDonogh School) leading the way for Etown. Simpson tallied 20 points on 10 goals and 10 assists last year, and Grooms totaled eight goals, four assists and 12 points.
Leading the attack for the Blue Jays in 2005 will likely be seniors Liz Fretz (Parkerford, PA/Owen J. Roberts), Jackie Brenton (Laurel, MD/St. Vincent Pallotti), Jen Manns (Wilmington, DE/Brandywine) and Ally Edel (Bel Air, MD/John Carroll School), along with first-year student Katie Braid (Parkton, MD/Hereford). Fretz is Etown's all-time goal scorer with 146 career goals in just three seasons, and she is a three-time All-MAC team member who set the program mark for most draw controls in a season with 73 in 2003. Edel earned a spot on the All-MAC teams in 2004 after leading the team in assists with 16, ground balls with 45, and caused turnovers with 28. Manns is Etown's second-leading career goal scorer with 89 goals through three seasons, and she leads the team in career assists with 47. Brenton tallied 16 goals and 12 assists for 28 points in 2004.
The Blue Jays are aiming to be playing their best by the end of the season after undergoing a steep learning curve early on. By peaking toward the end of the season, the Blue Jays are hoping make the post-season for the first time in just the fourth year of the program's history. Beginning this year, the MAC playoffs have expanded to include the top six finishing teams in the 11 team conference. In previous years, only the top four teams qualified. The Blue Jays, which finished sixth last year and would have made the playoffs in only their third season had the current system been in place then, hope to take full advantage of the expanded opportunity this year.
"Everyone is excited for the start of the season," said Faith. "It's going to be a lot of fun, and a lot of hard work. It's one step in where I want the program to be in a few years. We're setting the tone now."