UB Women's Lacrosse Welcomes New Season and Opportunities
After coming off their first year as a fulltime NCAA Division II program, the women's lacrosse team is looking to build on a 2011 season that saw the Purple Knights tally a 0-11 overall record. With seven new players and better team chemistry, expectations for the team are high.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this upcoming season for UB is the amount of home games that will be played at Knights Field this spring. In total, nine out of the 13 games will be at home, which the team hopes will provide a boost.
UB women's lacrosse head coach Kate Backman said her team has made great strides so far in practice, which she believes will translate to the playing field.
"I have seen tremendous growth," Backman said. "Offensively we are much better than last year and we struggled by not scoring goals. Our defense worked really hard but we weren't in games because we weren't scoring goals. This year that has turned around and our offense is something we are working hard on. Our defense is coming along right with it."
There are several returning players who will have an immediate impact on this year's team. On the offensive side, junior midfielder/attacker Jennavie Orrell, who led the Purple Knights in scoring with 25 goals and Colleen Pruesse, who recorded four goals lead the way. Defensively, senior defender Natasha Mitchell and sophomore midfielders Kathlena Rivera (two goals, two assists) and Charity Holt are expected to help anchor the backfield. Sophomore goalkeeper Victoria Harrison will be the mainstay in net after having several solid fall scrimmages against University of New Haven and Southern New Hampshire University.
Mitchell said that the team's practices during the winter have helped develop a better outlook on the season.
"Our focus is working on offense because last year we were mostly a defensive team," she said. "Now we have actual offensive players who are looking very good and will score goals for us this year."
Of the seven new players, Backman expects them to provide depth and goal scoring. Graduate student midfielder Lindsay Kehoe, who previously played collegiately at Merrimack College in North Andover, MA will add leadership and experience. Freshman midfielder Gabrielle Valela and attackers Katie King and Emily Catalano will all provide offensive punch in a variety of roles.
Valela said that transitioning from high school to collegiate level lacrosse has helped her be better prepared for the upcoming campaign.
"Working with these girls has taught me to be more patient since I came from a very high [ranked] high school lacrosse program and to come here, we are learning the basics but Coach K has been helping us really well," she said. "Everyone has really improved and I am really happy."
The Purple Knights will open the season on March 1, at Post University at 4 p.m. before playing their home opener on March 10 against Southern Connecticut State University at 11 a.m. at Knights Field.
"It [the team] is really starting to gel right now," Backman said. "There is still a lot of growth and things we need to work on but we are definitely gelling. They are very positive and are excited to play and win some games."
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