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2016 Johns Hopkins Women's Lacrosse Season Preview

Feb. 11, 2016

Family, reputation, passion, grit, communication, adaptability, consistency and insatiable. Those are the eight words that the Johns Hopkins women’s lacrosse team is defining itself by this season. Despite returning all but three players from last year’s squad that went 14-4 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament, this is a new year and a new team for the Blue Jays. Nine starters return, including All-American Dene’ DiMartino and 14 of the 15 players who scored at least one goal.

Head coach Janine Tucker is excited for the talent that this year’s squad possesses and the opportunities that this season presents, but says her Blue Jays are still figuring out who they are.

Oh Captain, My Captain
DiMartino and senior defender Kirsti Paavola have been selected in a vote of their teammates as captains for the 2016 season. DiMartino is serving as captain for the second straight year and is the 17th player in program history to do so.

Who’s Gone
The Blue Jays graduated a small but strong class in 2015 in Jen Cook, KC Emerson and Octavia Williams. Cook, who played three years at Homewood, finished her career with 73 goals and 109 points. Emerson started 30 games in the final two seasons, including every game of 2015, and she ranked fourth in the nation in goals against average (7.01) and save percentage (.497). Williams started every game in her final three years and totaled 70 round balls and 49 caused turnovers. She anchored a defense that ranked eighth in the nation in goals against average (7.44) last season and sixth (7.40) in 2014.

Welcome to Homewood
Head coach Janine Tucker welcomes seven freshmen to the Blue Jays this season. Joining Hopkins in 2016 are Haley Crosson, Lexee Pinsky, Miranda Ibello, Alexandra Seward, Holly Logan, Morgayne Rix and Nicole DeMase.

Poll Position
Hopkins is ranked in the top 20 in a trio of polls entering its season-opener on Friday, February 12. JHU is ranked 17th in both the IWLCA and Inside Lacrosse/Media Polls and is 13th in the Nike/Lax Magazine Poll. In addition, seven of the Blue Jays’ 2016 opponents are ranked in the top 20 of the IWLCA poll.

On the Attack
Seniors Jenna Reifler and Kristen Cannon return to lead an experienced attack unit. Reifler has stepped up her game and is playing with increased confidence in her final campaign. A tall, athletic lefty, she scored 10 goals and handed out 10 assists a year ago. Cannon is versatile and strong and will also see time in the midfield. She had a breakout year in 2015, totaling a career-high 21 goals and 32 points.

Joining the pair are junior Alexis Maffucci and sophomores Emily Kenul and CeCe Finney. Maffucci who possesses a very strong shot, finished fifth on the team in goals last season, putting up 23 while also tallying seven helpers. Kenul had an impressive rookie, as she led the team in assists (19) and ranked second in points (44). A huge factor in the Blue Jays’ ride, she also had 11 caused turnovers. Finney, who joined the team last January, finished third with 26 goals. What could be scary for Hopkins’ opponents is she is much more comfortable in the offense this year.

Also seeing time at attack are senior Maddy Aldave, sophomores Chloe Duke, Loring Gearhardt, Eden Epner and Anne Smith along with Ibello and Logan. Aldave is coming back after tearing her ACL last spring and is getting her legs back under her. She rides hard, contributes in the clear and the staff is looking forward to how she picks back up after her injury. Duke came back very determined and with something to prove, while Gearhardt brings great energy and is ready to contribute after seeing time in six games a year ago.

Epner was one of the hardest workers in the offseason and has returned with more confidence. She is taking every opportunity to grow and learn after playing in five games last year. Smith is also back after suffering an injury last year. A very strong shooter, she is a fearless dodger and is excited to get back out on the field. Ibello, who will also see time in the midfield, had a very strong fall where she showed a lot as an attacker. Logan is a strong dodger and a good shooter and she will get more and more time as she gets more comfortable in the offense.

Between the 30s
DiMartino anchors the Blue Jay midfield, after leading the team in points (52), goals (40) and draws (58) a year ago and earning Third Team All-America honors. A marked player, her ability to manage double teams and move the ball will be a key factor in the Hopkins’ offense this season. A true two-way player, she makes things happen on both sides of the field and at the draw. She totaled 10 caused turnovers and 18 ground balls as part of a defense that ranked eighth in the nation last year.

Joining her will be Cannon, along with junior Haley Schweizer and sophomore Shannon Fitzgerald. DiMartino, Cannon and Schweizer have played together for the last two years and know each other well. Schweizer is extremely powerful and makes an impact in all areas of the field, as she totaled 32 points (28g, 4a), 29 draws, 27 ground balls and 19 caused turnovers in 2015. Fitzgerald is another player that had a great freshman year, finishing with four multi-goal games and 16 goals. She is also productive at the draw (17) and has improved her defense.

Senior Caroline Turco is a vocal and emotional leader that provides a spark off the bench for the Blue Jays. She is joined by sphomores Maggie Friel, Caroline Shinske and Casey Van Slyke along with DeMase and Pinsky. Friel has a great dodge and is quick as a cat. She is very athletic and has improved her stick work in the offseason. Shinske will be seeing her first action this spring after missing her rookie year with an injury. A tough and fearless player, she will do anything that is asked of her.

Van Slyke will see time at attack and in the midfield this season. She is a grinder, she hustles and is playing with a lot more confidence in her second season. DeMase, who has a terrific split dodge, had a terrific fall and possesses a lot of potential. Pinsky has shown great growth since she stepped on campus and the coaches are excited to see what she can do this spring.

Getting Defensive
Paavola is the Blue Jays’ leader on a standout defense that allowed just 7.44 goals per game last year. She is an excellent communicator and is the glue that holds everything together in associate head coach Tara Singleton’s defense. She is poised to have a strong senior year after totaling 25 ground balls and 11 caused turnovers a year ago. Also returning is senior Josie George, a two-year starter, who is fierce on defense and she wears down her opponent. Last season, she led the team in ground balls (34) and caused turnovers (20).

Junior Nevi Fernandez will look to fill the shoes left by the graduation of Williams. A smart player, Fernandez has extremely good footwork and positioning on defense. She picked up 21 ground balls and caused 11 turnovers while starting all 18 games a year ago. Junior Maddie Bodden is another smart defender and an excellent communicator, who is a great unit defender. Junior Claudia Flister is extremely fast and is the Blue Jays’ face-guard specialist. She has improved her stick work tremendously and combined with her speed, she is a force in the clear.

Junior Lily Schmitt has battled injuries her whole career and is ready to go this season. A very unselfish player, she plays great angles and has been improving every day. Sophomore Emily Verica is a takeaway defender with a wicked check. She saw time in 12 games last year and will see more playing time this season. Sophomore Annie Schindler is a converted midfielder, who is very athletic and eager to learn. Rix and Seward join the Blue Jays’ experienced defense. Rix is an outstanding, athletic defender who is great in the clear. Seward, who is cut from the same cloth as Paavola and Bodden, is steady, reliable and has shown great improvement since she arrived.

In the Crease
Caroline Federico is back for her junior campaign and has earned the starting after backing up Emerson last year. She has gained tremendous experience in her first two seasons and she boasts a 7.49 goals against average and a .454 save percentage. She is a really competitive player, who makes big saves and takes calculated risks. She has also been a great role model for Crosson. A strong lefty, Crosson is adjusting to the speed of the shots and is benefitting tremendously from working with Singleton and offensive coordinator Steele Stanwick.