Feb. 20, 2007
With the addition of a highly touted freshmen class and a group of six seniors with 229 games between them, there is a tremendous amount of excitement surrounding the 2007 Johns Hopkins women's lacrosse team.
"In each of the last several seasons playing at the Division I level, we've really learned and grown as a program," said head coach Janine Tucker. "Those lessons started to show this fall. We had a very strong fall season and we're looking to build on that in the spring."
Hopkins missed out on a third consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2006 despite a 12-4 record and that experience has served as a motivator as the Blue Jays prepared for the 2007 season.
The Blue Jays return eight of their top-10 scorers from a team that ranked ninth in the nation in scoring offense with 12.8 goals per game. Those eight players accounted for 152 (74.1%) of the team's 205 goals in 2006.
Returning to anchor the Hopkins offense in 2007 is two-time All-American, senior Mary Key. One of three captains this season, Key has led the NCAA in scoring the past two seasons and is Hopkins' Division I career points and assists leader with 262 and 95 respectively. Last season she led the Blue Jays with a single-season record 101 points. Her 60 goals and 41 assists are both school Division I single-season records.
"Mary has done so much to establish this program at the Division I level," said Tucker. "I can't wait to see what she has in store for us this year."
A two-time Tewaaraton Nominee, Key is the most prolific women's lacrosse player ever to wear a Blue Jay uniform.
Fellow senior captain Alex Nolan joins Key on attack this season. An extremely unselfish player, Nolan has blossomed in her last two seasons. She started six games last season and had career highs with seven goals and 11 assists. A bonus for the Blue Jays this season is the return of fifth-year senior Sarah Walsh.
"Sarah is a playmaker," Tucker noted. "She knows how to find the open player and she knows when to step up and finish."
Walsh finished second on the team in scoring last season with 27 goals and 27 assists, both career highs. Key and Walsh have proven to be a dangerous combination, as they have connected on dozens of goals over the past two seasons.
Fellow senior Emma Wallace will contribute on the attack and continues to develop in the program.
"They're two very exciting players to watch," Tucker commented. "Sam is a terrific finisher and Brett has an incredible dodge and a very hard shot."
Returning after a season-ending knee injury midway through her freshman season is sophomore Gina Maranto. A midfielder last season, the coaches are looking to incorporate her into the offense more this season to take advantage of her height (5-10) and what Tucker calls "her rocket shot."
Also returning in the sophomore class are Jess Buicko and Jenny Higgins. Though they each saw limited playing time last season, they both possess an incredible work ethic and solid game sense and the coaching staff will look to them to contribute this season.
Freshman Danielle Ensley reminds the staff of Nolan in that she sees the field very well and is a very unselfish player. A strong finisher with a deceptive shot, Ensley will have the opportunity to contribute in her rookie season. Sophomore Julia Maimone-Medwick, a walk-on this season, is recovering from an injury entering the 2007 season.
With a corps of seasoned midfielders returning, Johns Hopkins will run two midfield lines in 2007.
The coaching staff has high expectations for Stamper, Hopkins' center draw specialist. A 2006 All-American, she ranked second in the ALC and 11th in the nation in draw controls per game. She is just the fourth player in Hopkins history with more than 100 career draw controls. She led the team in ground balls and draw controls and finished tied for third on the team with 32 points (26 goals, six assists).
Schwarzmann returns after a solid 2006 campaign in which she scored 10 goals and tallied 10 assists. Strong on both ends of the field, Schwarzmann earned Second Team All-ALC honors last season. She was second on the team in ground balls and caused turnovers.
"Lauren had an incredible fall season," said Tucker. "She's very focused and determined this season."
Dubansky, a 2006 Under Armour All-American, is looking to make an impact this season after turning the coaches' heads during the fall season.
"Kim is a real workhorse, fast and strong," Tucker commented. "She's really learned a lot and we're expecting great things from her."
Senior Steph Janice, the Blue Jays' most seasoned middie, returns looking for a big final season. Janice tallied 11 goals and four assists in 2006.
Houck possesses tremendous speed and very polished stick skills. Tucker and the staff expect a breakout season for Houck in 2007. Houck had career highs in every statistical category last season, including goals (8), assists (6) and points (14).
Hughes and Ibello will join Dubansky in the midfield this season. Named a "player to watch" by Inside Lacrosse in their fall recruiting issue, Tucker calls Hughes a "freight train".
"Angela is completely and utterly fearless," said Tucker. "She can go to goal and score but she can also shut an opponent down defensively."
"Paige is very speedy and extremely coachable," said Tucker. "She is an up-and-coming midfielder for us."
Senior captain Cherie Michaud returns ready to lead one of the fastest defensive units in Tucker's 14 seasons. Michaud, who Tucker describes as "on a mission" this season, leads a seasoned defense that allowed just 8.88 goals per game in 2006.
"Cherie is a natural leader who is focused on anchoring a solid defensive unit," Tucker said of her senior co-captain.
Junior Sarah Gallion, a Second Team All-ALC and IWLCA All-Region honoree in 2006, has been one of Hopkins best defenders in her two-plus seasons at Homewood. She brings speed and tenacity to the defense. Junior Katie Dumais, one of the fastest players on the team, hit the ground running last season and has not stopped in her development. She brings a quick, athletic and aggressive punch to the defensive unit.
Senior Meghan Crisafulli has worked her way up to being one of the Blue Jays top defenders in her career, playing in 23 games in the last two seasons.
"Meghan possesses great speed and is the most confident I have ever seen her," Tucker commented. "I think she will really surprise a lot of people this season."
Junior Erin O'Boyle will look to play a solid role with the Hopkins defense in 2007. O'Boyle is an extremely strong, low defender with good game sense. Tucker and the staff are looking for her to take that next step in her developmente.
"Erin has a commanding presence as a low defender," noted Tucker. "When she locks onto an opponent, they're not going anywhere."
Rupp, a two-time All-American, joins Hopkins from a very strong high school program at St. Stephen's & St. Agnes School. Tucker will look for Rupp to make an immediate impact, using her tremendous speed to help transition the ball up field. Russell had a strong fall, really turning the coaches' heads.
"Erin is one of the most consistent players on our team," Tucker said.
Freshman Abby Duggan and Kelly Kimmerling, walk-ons who joined the team in the fall, bring enthusiasm and high energy to the Blue Jays. They could see time this season as they develop in the program.
Returning in goal this season is sophomore Amelia Harris. She had a very strong finish to her freshman campaign and earned the starting job in the later half of the season. Harris played in nine games in 2006, posted a 9.21 goals against average with a .505 save percentage and a 3-1-0 record.
"Amelia is a very enthusiastic, very vocal goalie,' said Tucker. "Her teammates love playing in front of her."
Competing with Harris for the starting role this season will be freshman Lizzie O'Ferrall, who had an incredible fall season. Having two strong goalies, challenging and pushing each other, should be a huge advantage for the Blue Jays in 2007.
The Blue Jays, ranked ninth in the Lacrosse Magazine preseason poll, will play nine of their 16 games at Homewood Field this season. Hopkins' schedule includes eight opponents that are ranked in the Lacrosse Magazine preseason poll. Five of those teams went to the NCAA Tournament last season, including two-time defending champion Northwestern.
"We play a very challenging schedule," Tucker said. "We're looking forward to the challenges that such a strong schedule presents."
The Blue Jays open the season at home against George Washington on February 21 - the earliest start in school history. Just three days later, George Mason visits Homewood Field. Prior to 2007, Hopkins had played just four times in the month of February.
The Blue Jays then open a stretch of five consecutive road games starting with the Princeton Tigers on March 3. Hopkins defeated Princeton 8-7 in an exciting, nationally televised game in 2006. The Blue Jays travel to Ohio as they open their American Lacrosse Conference schedule against Ohio State (March 11). Hopkins returns to the east coast and visits two perennial powers in Georgetown (March 14) and Maryland (March 21).
Hopkins finally returns to Homewood Field on March 24 for a meeting with Oregon, kicking off a three-game home stand. Penn visits Baltimore just four days later, followed by Denver on April 1. The Blue Jays travel to Nashville a week later to face Vanderbilt in an ALC match-up. Hopkins returns to Baltimore to square off against UMBC on April 11. Three 2006 NCAA Tournament teams then visit Homewood Field to take on the Blue Jays. On April 14, Hopkins squares off against Virginia on ESPNU. Six days later, the Blue Jays battle the Northwestern Wildcats in a nationally televised ALC showdown.
"We love nationally televised games," commented Tucker. "For young girls across the country to see two women's teams playing at a high level is great exposure for our sport."
Hopkins concludes its ALC schedule on April 27 against Penn State in Baltimore. The Blue Jays then close the regular season at Towson three days later. Hopkins will then host the inaugural ALC Tournament at Homewood Field the weekend of May 3-6.
"We're honored to host the first ever American Lacrosse Conference Tournament, which will determine the NCAA bid for the ALC," said Tucker. "Johns Hopkins University will do its best to make sure that every student-athlete has the best possible experience."