Experienced Scots Eager to Compete for NCAC Title Again
|Jaqueline Wallat enters her third-year as a starter, and is one of eight starters returning on this year's team.
After coming up just one goal shy of a third straight North Coast Athletic Conference championship, The College of Wooster women's lacrosse team will once again be strong contenders in 2012, as the Scots return eight starters, which includes goal-scoring standout Madison Carey as well as several other key contributors.
Wooster has been the most successful program in the league during the 2000's, having won six NCAC titles in the last 10 years, and seventh-year head coach Liz Ford is aware that the team has earned a target on its back.
"When you have the success that we've had, we know every team we play is going to give us its best," said Ford. "But our players want to be the best, too, and they use that as motivation. When they're at practice, they think about what Denison or OWU might be doing right now to get better, and then they push themselves to try and do more."
The offense will be in good shape once again this season, as Carey, who earned first-team all-NCAC honors a season ago, gives Wooster the benefit of having one of the best attackers in the region. The senior standout totaled 74 points last year on 53 goals and 21 assists, which were the third-most points in a season in program history.
"Madison has an innate ability to put the ball in the net," said Ford. "We think we have some players who are going to be able to take some pressure off of Madison this year, but there's no doubt she's going to be the leader on the offensive end. She's a player that even when the defense is trying to key in and stop her, she still gets her points."
Joining Carey is a group of offensively-skilled players at the attack and midfield positions, including Clare Nelson-Johnson, Cassie Greenbaum and Eliza Perry. Nelson-Johnson, a junior, has been a two-year starter and two-time all-NCAC pick, including second-team honors last year when she scored 23 goals and dished out nine assists.
Greenbaum is the reigning NCAC Newcomer-of-the-Year, after she started all 16 games last season as a freshman and totaled 24 points (17 goals, 7 assists), while also factoring in on draw controls (29), ground balls (26), and caused turnovers (16). Perry, a 6-2 sophomore, used her unique height and athleticism to score 11 goals during her debut season, and is expected to fill a starting spot on the attacking end this spring.
Another to watch for is senior Jaqueline Wallat, who enters her third-year as a starter and is considered one of the fastest players on the team. Wallat has typically occupied the center midfield spot over the last two seasons, where she recorded 51 draw controls during that span, but this year Ford plans to get her more involved offensively and expects an uptick from her 10-goal, six-assist effort a year ago.
Not to be outdone is the defense, which ranked second in the NCAC last season in points allowed (9.32) and caused turnovers (9.19), and will return a pair of all-conference players in Isabel Baylor and goalkeeper Shawna Ferris, along with two other starters.
Baylor, a senior, has been made a second-team all-conference pick the last two seasons, and led the team with 20 caused turnovers last spring. She will be counted on to anchor Wooster defensively once again.
"Isabel is a tough player, both physically and mentally," said Ford. "She's a great communicator on the field, and she knows exactly what to do and where to be."
Ferris, a junior, is a two-year starter at goal, and nabbed a first-team all-NCAC selection last year after finishing first in the conference in save percentage (.459) among starting goalies, and second in ground balls (2.81 per game) among all players. Backing up Ferris will be sophomore Sarah Ragosta.
Also joining the Scots will be a group of six freshmen that Ford believes is as talented as any incoming class she has recruited.
"We compete in a very strong region," said Ford. "Whenever you play against a team in this region it's going to be a battle. But we think we have the right mix of players here to compete for another NCAC Championship, and hopefully advance in the NCAA Tournament."