Dishong Leaves Mark on Slippery Rock Lacrosse

By Jon Holtz

When Brianne Dishong agreed to come to Slippery Rock University to play lacrosse for a program that had just gone 0-15 in its first season of Division II competition, no one envisioned she would help turn the program into a contender.

A 5-foot-1 defender from Stow, Ohio, Dishong would become one of the most decorated players in program history over the next four years, culminating in the spring of 2011 when she endured one of the most enjoyable, yet painful seasons of her career.

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As a freshman in 2008, Dishong quickly proved herself as one of the best defenders on the team. She appeared in 13 games and made 11 starts that season, leading the team by a large margin with 18 caused turnovers and ranking second on the squad with 35 ground balls.

Those statistics didn't translate into team wins, however, as Slippery Rock struggled again to a winless season at 0-17. Along the road that year were embarrassing losses to top-ranked teams in the nation, including a 30-1 defeat at the hands of West Chester.

Other huge losses during Dishong's freshman season included a 17-1 loss to East Stroudsburg in the first game of her career and a 20-1 loss to the same Warrior team just two days later. Shippensburg tacked on 19-2 and 20-2 wins and Millersville added 18-4 and 25-5 victories.

That season, and those six losses to East Stroudsburg, Shippensburg and Millersville, would stay with Dishong over the next three years.

After her freshman year the program was reeling from an 0-32 start to Division II competition, going winless in its first two seasons since being reinstated as a varsity sport in 2007.

Women's lacrosse at Slippery Rock became an officially recognized varsity sport in 1976 and remained one of The Rock's intercollegiate athletic programs until the spring of 1991, when a decision was made to relegate the sport to club status. After a 16 year absence, lacrosse returned in 2007.

Emily Hopkins took over the head coaching duties for the program at the beginning of the 2008 season and began to work toward building the team into one that could at least compete with the teams in the highly competitive Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. That task began with Dishong, goalie Ashley Winkelspecht and an intense offseason of recruiting.

Entering the 2009 season, Hopkins felt like they would brandish a significantly improved squad with the additions of a solid recruiting class that included Amy Halls, Casey Quinn, Emma VanDenburg, Katie Roof, Alexis Slutsky and Samantha Eddy, all of whom were expected to contribute to a major increase in offensive production.

Defensively though, the pressure would fall squarely on the shoulders of Dishong and Winkelspecht again, as only two other defenders from the 2009 roster would stay with the program through graduation.

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The team was significantly improved, finishing the year at 5-12 overall, but still going winless in conference play. Halls broke the all-time scoring record for goals in a single season with 57, which matched the entire offensive production of the entire roster in 2008. The team scored 172 goals on the season, an increase of 115.

Dishong led the defense again, this time with a breakout year. She finished the year with 17 starts and led the team with 26 caused turnovers and 42 ground balls. She also contributed three assists.

In terms of the schedule, SRU fell to the top-ranked teams in Lock Haven, Gannon, West Chester and Mercyhurst, but narrowed the gap to Millersville, losing 14-11. That margin was a stark improvement from the combined 43-9 margin of victory for the Marauders just one season before.

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