Johns Hopkins Women's Lacrosse Season Preview
By Jill Guise
Assistant Director of Athletic Communications
Feb. 8, 2018
After a strong fall and preseason, head coach Janine Tucker has a lot of optimism heading into the 2018 season for the Johns Hopkins women's lacrosse team.
"What we've seen in preseason is the team continuing to build off the chemistry that was developed in the fall. We're seeing different combinations of players getting more comfortable with each. We've seen the older players really bring the younger players along and a lot of those younger players are really rising to the occasion."
With the loss of three starters on defense and a three-year starter in goal, one might wonder where that optimism comes from. But the Blue Jays return a combined seven starters on the attack and midfield and 75 percent of their goals from a year ago. Leading the way are Big Ten watch list selections Emily Kenul, Shannon Fitzgerald and Nicole DeMase.
The Blue Jays graduated a big and experienced class as they lost seven seniors from last year's squad that went 11-7 and played in the Big Ten semifinals. Caroline Federico, Nevi Fernandez, Haley Schweizer, Maddie Bodden, Lily Schmitt, Claudia Flister and Alexis Maffucci combined for 123 games played and 99 starts in 2017 alone. The group led the Blue Jays to 51 wins and three straight NCAA Tournament appearances while combining for an incredigle 417 games played, 149 goals, 32 assists, 406 ground balls, 164 draws and 224 caused turnovers.
Welcome to Homewood
Tucker welcomes eight freshmen to the Blue Jays this season. Joining Hopkins are Keegan Barger, Aurora Cordingley, Haley Reitz, Jeanne Kachris, Trinity McPherson, Shelby Harrison, Kathleen Garvey, Caitlin Ohnmacht.
Hopkins is ranked 22nd in the IWLCA Coaches Poll and is also receiving votes in both the Nike/US Lacrosse Poll and Cascade Media Polls. Seven of the Blue Jays' 2018 opponents are ranked in the top 25 by the IWLCA, including three that are ranked in the top five.
After advancing to the Big Ten semifinals in its inaugural season in the league, Hopkins was picked to finish fourth in this year's preseason coaches' poll. The top four teams in the final regular season standings qualify for the Big Ten Women's Lacrosse Tournament, which will take place at Michigan on May 4 and 6. The winner of the tournament earns the Big Ten's automatic bid to the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
On the Attack
Kenul headlines an experienced attack unit that returns four starters from a year ago. Despite missing four games with an injury in 2017, Kenul earned All-Big Ten and IWLCA All-Mid-Atlantic honors. She still led the team in draws (39) and ranked third in both goals (26) and assists (16). The coaches are looking for Kenul to up her game across the board this season, whether it's going to the cage, on the draw circle or in the ride.
Joining Kenul up top this season is Fitzgerald, who made the move from the midfield. She really initiates the offense for the Blue Jays and last season she ranked second on the team in goals (33) and third in points (43). Making the move to attack should really help the Blue Jays in their offensive sets, as well as the ride, because of her speed and height (5'11").
Also returning are Finney and sophomore Maggie Schneidereith. A tall lefty, Finney has really embraced her role as a captain this preseason and has been given the green light by the coaching staff. She scored 15 goals a year ago and the Blue Jays are looking for her to really be a threat and make an even bigger impact on the attack.
Schnedereith, who was named the team's co-rookie of the year in 2017, had an outstanding freshman season. She led the Blue Jays in assists (24) while breaking the program record for assists by a freshman. She has played very well so far in the preseason and assistant coach Steele Stanwick has challenged her to get to the cage more this season. Already a great feeder who loves to set up her teammates, the Blue Jays would love to see her be equally dangerous with the ball and without.
Sophomore Mackenzie Heldberg is another player the coaches have moved from the midfield to the attack this offseason. She is a very strong player, who works well off the ball and has a great shot. The coaches are looking for her to be a strong inside presence this spring.
Returning after missing the final five games due to an injury is junior Miranda Ibello. She is working her way back into the lineup and is itching to pick up where she left off last season. Ibello has outstanding stick skills and a real nose for the cage, but can also set up her teammates. She finished second on the team in assists (18) and fifth in points (35) and goals (17), despite playing in only 13 games.
Shinske brings tremendous energy and enthusiasm with her every day. She is a good off-ball player and knows how to finish in-tight. A real hard worker, she gives 120 percent all of the time and the coaches are excited to see what she can do in her senior season.
Also returning are seniors Chloe Duke, Eden Epner and Loring Gearhardt, junior Holly Logan and sophomore Michelle Poirier. Duke and Epner have shown tremendous growth from their freshmen season. They are pushing their teammates and are bringing their very best every day. Gearhardt is still battling an injury and is filling a role as a student coach for the Blue Jays this season. She has brought great energy and perspective to her teammates. A strong dodger, who is very good with the ball, Logan has a lot of potential. Poirier is getting better and better every day and the coaches are excited to see what she can do as she fights for playing time.
Cordingley will see time at both the attack and midfield this season. She has great stick skills and is a threat with either hand. A very tough player, she rides hard and has a wicked back-check. Tucker believes she will make some noise in her freshman season.
Between the 30s
DeMase returns to lead a midfield that saw the graduation of an All-American in Schweizer and Fitzgerald moving to the attack. One of the Blue Jays' best players in the fall, DeMase makes an impact on both sides of the field. She has a great split-dodge and scored a career-best 23 goals a year ago. She plays much bigger than her size (5'4") and really holds her own on the defensive end of the field. That part of her game has grown tremendously since last year and the coaches are really pushing her in 2018.
Joining DeMase are Harrison and Barger. Harrison has made an impact from day one as a center draw specialist. A true two-way middie, she is working really hard to understand the Blue Jays' systems and is someone Tucker is looking to step up in her freshman year. Barger is one of the fastest players on the team. She is extremely comfortable on the defensive end and in transition and is getting more comfortable on the offensive side. A scrappy player, she can really hunt the ball on the draw circle and should be a great one-two punch with Kenul.
Souder is another center draw specialist for the Blue Jays, who did a phenomenal job as a freshman and earned co-rookie of the year honors with Schneidereith. She is very strong at the draw and is really coming into her own as a two-way middie. She brings a lot to the table on the offensive side and has worked really hard on upping her game on the defensive end and the Blue Jays are reaping the benefits of that.
Also returning are sophomore Becca Boyle, senior Maggie Friel and sophomore Eva Klaus. One of the most relentless players in the country, Boyle is a defensive midfielder for the Blue Jays. She brings a lot of tenacity, fearlessness and tough-mindedness to the defense and in transition. The coaches believe she has tremendous upside and they are looking forward to her continued development.
Friel is very fast and shifty and is a real threat offensively for the Blue Jays. Tucker is looking for her to have her best season yet. Klaus is working her way back after suffering a season-ending injury versus Stony Brook. A finesse player, she has a good nose for the cage and the coaches are excited to have her back. She does good things on either side of the field and can cover a lot of ground with her height (5'10") and ability to move the ball.
Verica is the lone returning starter on defense and is the quarterback of associate head coach Tara Singleton's defense. A tremendous impact player, she is very in tune with what her teammates need and is an extension of the coaching staff on the field. Verica totaled 22 ground balls and 11 caused turnovers while also adding three assists.
Joining Verica this season are Kachris and McPherson along with junior Morgayne Rix. Kachris is very speedy and an incredible lock-down defender. With her speed, she really helps the Blue Jays in the clear as well. McPherson is extremely athletic and a terrific communicator on the defensive side. She has grown leaps and bounds so far this offseason and the more she plays, the better she gets. Rix brings size (5'8") and great communicative skills to the defense. She loves to play in the Blue Jays' zone and direct her teammates. Singleton is excited to see how she can help not only on the defensive side of the field but also in the clear.
After playing more in the midfield as a freshman, Caroline Hoeg moved to the defensive end of the field. She's tenacious, competitive and loves to shut people down and help her team win. She has a knack for finding the ball when it's on the ground and she gives the Blue Jays a real spark on defense. Sophomore Shannon Logan is another one who plays bigger than her size (5'2") and is a pit bull on defense. She is really embracing Singleton's defensive sets and has a great learning curve.
Ohnmacht and Reitz join the defense this season. A lefty, Ohnmacht has great size (5'10") and a presence about her. She can get up and down the field and plays good angles on defense. She is building more and more confidence and the coaches are expecting big things from her this season. Reitz is extremely athletic, a scrapper and a very hard worker. She has great upside and is really pushing her teammates for playing time.
Senior Annie Schindler is returning after missing all of last year with an injury. An incredibly smart defender, she understands what needs to happen and gives everything she has to her teammates. She has really stepped up as a leader on the defense and is bringing her younger teammates along. Junior Alexandra Seward has worked very hard in the offseason and it has made a tremendous difference this spring. The coaches have been impressed by her growth and she is pushing for playing time. Junior Lexee Pinsky had a very good fall and really turned the coaches' heads. She is growing every day in the program and is working hard every day.
In the Crease
Junior Haley Crosson has grown immensely, both on and off the field, and it has been really fun for the coaches to see. She sees a real window of opportunity this year with the graduation of Federico and she's doing everything she can to capture that.
Crosson has the edge right now but is being pushed by freshman Kathleen Garvey and sophomore Robyn Lipschultz. Garvey is a righty, which is a nice compliment to the left-handed Crosson. She is working on her mindset and getting used to playing at this level. She came off a very good fall and is really challenging Crosson. A dual-sport athlete, Lipschultz is another righty goalie and every days comes out and pushes Crosson and Garvey. All three goalies are really benefitting from goalie coach Jason Levinson and they have all made tremendous strides since he came on in the fall.
More Coach Tucker
"We're going to be young this year. We have a lot to replace, but every one of these kids is up to the task. There has been an incredible energy that this group has sustained through the fall, winter break and now preseason and that makes coming out to practice an absolute joy. For all of the coaches, this is a special group and we're really excited to see how that translates this spring."