The 2016 season will begin a new era for the Wesleyan University women's lacrosse program as the Cardinals welcome first-year head coach, Kim Williams. Williams spent the previous two seasons at Stockton University, where she helped guide the Ospreys to consecutive winnings seasons – 10-5 in 2013-14 and 10-6 in 2014-15. A four-year collegiate athlete from C.W. Post University, Williams is no stranger to the ultra-competitive NESCAC. Following graduation, she earned her first coaching position with Colby College, and spent three seasons (2011-13) with the Mules before being named the head coach at Stockton.
Williams takes over a Wesleyan team that finished the 2015 season with a 5-10 overall record and 1-9 mark. Having lost just two players to graduation, the Cardinals' lineup returns four seniors, seven juniors and five sophomores, and welcomes nine freshman. Wesleyan concluded the season on a high note with a 15-7 home win over Connecticut College, and will look to build off that momentum when they open the 2016 campaign Saturday, March 5 at Bates (12 p.m.).
"After a productive and competitive preseason, I have been very pleased with the leadership shown by our upperclassmen and how quickly our newcomers have adapted to the collegiate level," said Williams. "We are all very excited to open up on Saturday against a good Bates team."
The Cardinals' difficult schedule – which features seven games against top 25 teams – includes seven homes games; Wheaton (3/9), No. 13 Hamilton (3/12), Kean (3/26), No. 15 Colby (4/2), Williams (4/9), No. 2 Trinity (4/12) and No. 11 Tufts (4/23), and seven away games; Bates (3/5), Haverford (3/15), No. 4 Middlebury (3/19), Babson (3/30), No. 12 Amherst (4/6), No. 9 Bowdoin (4/16) and Connecticut College (4/27).
MEET THE TEAM
Wesleyan returns six of its top seven scorers from a year ago. Headlining the group is Liana Mathias '17 as she looks to build off her impressive sophomore campaign. Mathias led the team in points (33) and assists (12), and ranked third on the squad in goals (21).
In addition, Rachel Aronow '17, Martha Harding '16 and Julia Black '18 scored 15, 13 and 10 goals, respectively, andBecca Phillips '17 added seven goals and six assists for 13 points. The quartet figure to play a prominent role in the Cardinals' success this season.
Meredith Smith '17 returns to the squad as well, and was the team's leading goal scorer in 2015 with 25 markers. She also dished out seven assists, which was second best on the team, and picked up 14 ground balls.
On the defensive side of the ball, three of Wesleyan's top four leaders in ground balls from a year ago return to the lineup in 2016, as Emily Gretsky '16, Meghan Kelly '17 and Nina Labovich '16 all recorded 24. Labovich returns to the net for her fourth and final season as a Cardinal. Last year, she logged 848:42 minutes between the posts and played all 15 games for Wesleyan. The Alexandria, Va. native ranked fourth in the league in saves as a junior with 118.
Williams and the Cardinals also welcome freshmen Amy Breitfeller, Breanna Cavanaugh, Molly Crabtree, Abigail Horst,Antonia Kaz, Emilie Ogden-Fung, Lily SanGiovanni, Caroline Sgaglione, and Caitlin Wood to the squad.