UMF Ready for NAC East Challenges in 2012

FARMINGTON, Maine -- The University of Maine at Farmington women's lacrosse team is set to open its 2012 season on Saturday as the Beavers visit the University of Southern Maine at 1:00 p.m.

UMF looks to get back on track after a 2-10 season (1-5 in North Atlantic Conference East Division). The Beavers' 2011 campaign came to an end with a 14-2 NAC East semifinal loss to Husson University.

UMF was pegged for seventh in the NAC East coaches preseason poll, but head coach Molly Wilkie is excited about her roster heading into the season opener.

"I'm really excited to see how far we can advance this year," said Wilkie, who has guided the women's lacrosse program through its first three years of existence. "We lost a couple of players due to injury, graduation. We've really got a strong core returning and some newcomers who are really going to earn a lot of playing time. It should be exciting to see how we develop."

The Beavers are captained by the season midfielder troika of Amie Daniels (Lewiston, Maine), Emma Morrison (Saco, Maine) and Alyssa Neptune (Readfield, Maine). Daniels, the program's all-time leading scorer with 59 points and All-NAC First Teamer in 2010, missed most of last season with an injury, while Morrison snagged All-NAC East First Team and NAC East All-Tournament honors in 2011 and Neptune led the team with 13 assists and 15 caused turnovers in 2011.

The tri-captains are joined in the midfield by senior Elizabeth Stevenson (Naples, Maine) with sophomore and 2011 All-NAC East First Teamer Molly Carbin (Scarborough, Maine), junior newcomer Emma Daniel (Acton, Mass.) and freshmen Marisa Hanning (Hebron, Maine) and Chelsea Morley (York, Maine) also in the mix. Carbin led the team with 59 ground balls and was third in the nation with 5.9 per outing.

The attack features senior Abbey Gilbert (Wilton, Maine), junior Felisha Taylor (Chelsea, Maine) and sophomores Miranda Levesque (Sanford, Maine) and Hillary Morrison (Camden, Maine) along with Hanning and classmates Sierra Deroche (Fairfield, Maine) and Maddi Kadnar (Belgrade, Maine). Emma Morrison and Levesque are the Beavers' top returning scorers with 17 goals apiece.

"We are looking for our attacking to be creating space off the ball with lots of cutting, lots of movement," said Wilkie. "We really want to be dynamic in that way. We need to take advantage of our chances offensively. When we have a high-quality chance to score, we've got to put it in the back of the net."

Wilkie said one of the keys for her squad included a cohesive defensive unit, which features sophomore netminder Hannah Goodenow and the aforementioned Carbin, Daniel and Morley and defenders juniors Nateasha Ouellette (Lewiston, Maine) and Courtney Poston (Topsham, Maine) and sophomore Emily Higgins (Saco, Maine). Goodenow was sixth in the country in saves per game with 13.0 per contest.

For the past two seasons, the NAC East has featured UMF, Husson, Green Mountain and Thomas colleges, but there's a new look to the division this spring.

"The makeup of the conference has changed with the addition of Colby-Sawyer, New England College and Castleton," said Wilkie. "For our east division, it's certainly going to be more competitive. Those three teams I just named have established programs, so it's really going to be a battle to get into the playoffs this year."

The Beavers open with four straight non-conference road games before they will take to Prescott Field to face Colby-Sawyer College in their North Atlantic Conference opener on April at 1:00 p.m.


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