The 2016 Amherst College women's lacrosse team, under the guidance of Chris Paradis, returns 18 players from last year's squad which advanced to the program's 15th NESCAC Championship tournament. This talented and seasoned group of veterans will team with 10 newcomers as the Purple & White are poised to make a run at the program's first conference title.
Amherst won five of its first six games to start the 2015 season en route to a 9-7 overall record. The Purple & White posted four wins in the NESCAC, including a thrilling, 9-8 overtime victory over Colby College at Pratt Field that helped Amherst punch its ticket to the NESCAC tournament. In the quarterfinal round, Amherst suffered a heartbreaking, 9-8 loss to Middlebury College.
Heading into the 2016 campaign, Paradis will rely on the squad's depth and leadership to drive the Purple & White. Ranked 12th in the IWLCA Division III Preseason Coaches Poll, this year's edition of Amherst women's lacrosse - led by a group of six seniors - includes five juniors, and seven sophomores, in addition to a bevy of new faces who will each look to make an immediate impact.
Paradis noted that younger players had to step into various roles last year due to injuries, and that formula, combined with a group of talented first-years, puts Amherst in a good position to compete in the NESCAC and nationally.
"We have great depth and talent, and this contributes to very competitive practices every day," Paradis explained. "The more we can compete with each other daily, the better prepared we will be for our opponents. The sophomores and juniors, being one year older, are more experienced and are playing well."
The Amherst attack features a corps of veteran players in tri-captains Mia Haughton '16, and Devin O'Connor '16; as well as Coco Kusiak '17, and Julia Crerend '18, who all had productive campaigns a season ago.
Haughton fired in 15 goals and dished out 14 helpers en route to 29 points; while Crerend found the back of the net 14 times and added three assists for 17 points. Kusiak and O'Connor finished with 16 and 18 points respectively as Kusiak scored 11 goals and notched five assists, while O'Connor logged eight goals and handed out 10 assists.
Kate Wyeth '17, and sophomore Dakota Foster and Mary Grace Cronin '18, will look to build on their seasons a year ago, and will be joined by newcomers Kaitlyn Haase '19, Lindsey Call '19, Haley Henriksen '19 and Annie Cohen '19. Wyeth, who saw action in nine games last season, could also feature in the midfield for Amherst.
Headlining the Purple & White midfield is senior standout and tri-captain Rachel Passarelli who enters the season as a 2015 IWLCA First Team All-American, a First Team All-NESCAC honoree, and an IWLCA First Team All-Berkshire Region selection. Passarelli led the Purple & White with 42 goals and registered multiple points in 15-of-16 games played, including 13-multi-goal games. She scored four or more goals in six games last season, including a five-goal output in a 17-11 win over Little Three and conference foe Williams College. Passarelli finished with 55 points (42 goals, 13 assists), picked up 20 ground balls and caused 14 opponent turnovers.
Junior Claire Cagnassola was tremendous on offense scoring 25 goals to highlight her 28-point output a year ago. She also won 34 draws and collected 18 ground balls.
The tandem of Katie Paolano '16 and Emy Kelty '16 highlights a young, but talented group in the defensive third of the field. Junior Hanna Krueger will provide great athleticism and leadership down low following a stellar sophomore campaign.
Paolano caused eight turnovers in 10 games played as a junior, and scooped up 10 ground balls during the season. Krueger totaled 25 ground balls, 37 draw controls, and caused a team-high 19 opponent turnovers en route to being named Second Team All-NESCAC, and IWLCA First Team All-Berkshire Region. Krueger may also see action in the midfield in 2016.
Junior Andrea Rijo, and sophomores Rowena Schenck, and Olivia Rosenfeld are each looking to have more of an impact this Spring in the defensive end, while newcomers Shannon Tierney '19, Casey Tucker '19, and Kate Burns '19 will add great depth to the position.
An IWLCA Second Team All-Berkshire Region selection a year ago, senior goalie Christy Forrest logged all but 50:04 between the pipes for the Purple & White in 2015 en route to a 9-7 overall mark. Forrest made 96 saves and totaled a 7.90 goals-against average in 16 games played.
Kyra Gardner '18 made four appearances during her rookie season made two stops in 50:04 of action. Katie Savage '19 looks to join the squad after her ice hockey season is over to add depth between the pipes heading into the 2016 season.
Amherst begins its journey March 5 when it hosts league rival and 10th-ranked Bowdoin College at 12 p.m. at Pratt Field. The Purple & White then take to the road for five games to close out the month of March making a stop in Lewiston, Maine at NESCAC foe Bates College (March 12), before traveling to Clermont, Fla. to take on McDaniel College and Dickinson College on March 15 and March 17 respectively.
Upon their arrival back to the Northeast, Amherst continues its road trip with a tilt at Springfield College (March 23), before taking on conference rival No. 13 Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. (March 26).
Four of the squad's first five games in April will take place on home turf beginning with a showdown with No. 4 Middlebury (April 2), followed by a midweek match up with Little III foe Wesleyan University on April 6. The Purple & White will then travel to No. 17 Colby College (April 9) before hosting league opponents Conn. College (March 12) and No. 11 Tufts University (March 16).
Amherst's will take to the road for its final three games of the regular season: at Mount Holyoke College (April 20), at Little III rival Williams College (April 23), before rounding out the slate at No. 2 Trinity College April 27.