Pioneers Begin 2011 and Hunt for a Fourth NEC Title this Saturday

Pioneers Begin 2011 and Hunt for a Fourth NEC Title this Saturday

The Sacred Heart women's lacrosse team begins their 12th season under head coach Laura Cook this Saturday hosting the Brown Bears.  The Pioneers begin their quest for what would be a record fourth-straight Northeast Conference Championship this spring with a solid nucleus of experienced veterans and a talented, young crop of new faces to make up this year's squad.

Cook will lean on four captains in 2011 in seniors Elizabeth Drehwing (Wyckoff, NJ), Nicole Messina (Smithtown, NY) and Jessica Ingrilli (Wantagh, NY) and junior Kate Kmiotek (Farmingville, NY)

Kmiotek and Ingrilli will lead the SHU midfield this spring.  Kmiotek returns after an All-NEC season in 2010 where she tied for the team lead in goals scored with 47 last spring.  Kmiotek ranked sixth in the NEC in goals scored per game (2.47) and 10th in points per game (3.05).  Ingrilli returns after missing the last two seasons but was an all-conference midfielder during her freshman season.  She scored 28 goals in 2008 and led the team with 50 ground balls and 24 caused turnovers.

The Pioneer attack will be bolstered by the addition of a trio of transfers in freshman Kameryn Downing (Cherry Hills Village, CO / Boston University), sophomore Emily Pepe (Westhampton, NY / Jacksonville University) and junior Katie Gerhard (Centennial, CO / George Mason University).  SHU can also rely on juniors Kaitlin Rochler (Wading River, NY), Aurelie Pluijmakers (Freehold, NJ), Amanda Crowe (Upton, MA) and Alyssa Dorsey (Massapequa, NY) for added depth up top.  Rochler notched 23 goals last season while Dorsey added five goals and five assists.  Pluijmakers and Crowe also found the back of the cage in 2010.

Drehwing and Messina will hold down the defensive unit for the Pioneers along with the return of juniors Mary LaGrassa (Massapequa, NY) and Kelli Rutledge (Howell, NJ).  Last season, the Pioneer defense was tops in the Northeast Conference allowing just 5.82 goals against in conference play. Drehwing earned recognition on the NEC All-Tournament team last season.  She started all 19 games and registered 38 ground balls and 18 caused turnovers. 

Messina and LaGrassa are also returning starters from last year's defensive unit.  Messina posted 22 grounders and 19 caused turnovers while LaGrassa had 34 ground ball pick-ups with 14 caused turnovers in 2010.  Sophomore transfer Megan Pepe (Westhampton, NY / Jacksonville University) will also help round out this season's defense.

The 2011 campaign kicks-off on Saturday with the Pioneers hosting the Brown Bears.  SHU will play seven of their first nine games on Campus Field.  The Pioneers have a non-conference slate put together with home games against Brown, Iona, Manhattan, Louisville and Holy Cross and trips to Farifield and UConn.

SHU begins defense of their NEC crown on Friday, March 25th when they open conference play against Robert Morris.  The Pioneers also welcome NEC foes Saint Francis (PA), Long Island and Wagner to Fairfield.  SHU will travel to Quinnipiac, Bryant, Central Connecticut State, Monmouth and Mount St. Mary's this season.