Plymouth State Set to Make 2013 Debut

PLYMOUTH, N.H. The 2013 Plymouth State University women's lacrosse season gets underway next week with a tough non-conference game at Springfield College.

The Panthers will visit the Pride for the season debut next Wednesday, Mar. 6, in Springfield, Mass. PSU will be looking to avenge an overtime loss at Springfield in last season's opener. Plymouth State will play its first eight games on the road this spring, with four home games slated for April.

A highlight to this year's schedule comes during the school's Spring Break (Mar. 16-24), when the Panthers will travel to the Mile High State to face Colorado College and Pacific University (Ore.) This will be the third straight year PSU plays Pacific, a team guided by former PSU head coach Wynne Lobel.

PSU's first Little East Conference game is slated for Saturday, Apr. 6 at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. The home opener is slated for Thursday, Apr. 11, at Arold Field against Framingham State University.

The Panthers will play 14 regular season games, wrapping up by the end of April, as the annual LEC Tournament begins Tuesday, Apr. 30. The conference champion will be crowned on May 5, and will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

The Panthers welcome back nine starters and 15 veterans from last year's squad, including six All-Conference selections and three Conference Players of the Year. PSU finished with a 13-2 overall record last spring, including a 13-game winning streak, while winning the LEC regular season title with a 6-0 mark. Fourth-year head coach Kristin Blanchette is excited about the experience and leadership of this year's team.

"We are more experienced and mature this season," said Blanchette. "We started six freshmen consistently last year, who are now sophomores. We also have several seniors and juniors who are providing phenomenal leadership. This is definitely the most talented and competitive team we've had since I've been here."

While PSU led the league in scoring last spring and returns four of its top five scorers, the key to the team may be defense. Junior goalie Lorin Field (Hollis, N.H./Hollis-Brookline) is the returning LEC Defensive Player of the Year and All-Region selection while senior Kristen Guest (Sandwich, Mass.) is a returning First Team All-Conference defender. Field led the LEC in goals against average (8.05) and save percentage (.535) and Guest topped the conference in caused turnovers (2.73 per game) and ranked fourth in ground balls (3.47 per game). Coach Blanchette expects freshman Anna Kirwan (Scituate, Mass./Archbishop Williams) to make an immediate impact on defense as well.

PSU has a large contingent of returnees in the midfield, led by LEC Midfielder of the Year and two-time All-Region selection Caitlin Swanson (Holderness, N.H./Plymouth Regional) and First Team All-Conference sophomore Molly Gleason (Haverhill, Mass.). Swanson was one of the top scorers in the conference with 39 goals and 47 points, and she also collected 46 draw controls and 34 ground balls. Gleason picked up 40 ground balls and was a terror on draws, leading the league with a school-record 112 draw controls. Freshman Meghan Grabowski (West Hartford, Conn./Northwest Catholic) looks to step in and contribute on both ends of the field, according to Blanchette.

The Panther offense should again be potent, with the return of sophomores Meghan McNabb (Lexington, Mass.), Shannon Connerty (Nashua, N.H./Tyngsboro, Mass.) and Amy McDonald (Hull, Mass.). McNabb was the LEC Rookie of the Year and First Team All-Conference after finishing with 41 goals and a PSU record 44 assists and leading the league in assists. Connerty was Second Team All-Conference after scoring a team-high 53 goals to rank second in the LEC, while McDonald was fourth on the team with 36 goals and 46 points. Freshmen Brogan Canty (South Windsor, Conn.) and Kim Morris (Londonderry, N.H.) will also look to step in and contribute to the offense.

"Our goal is to win the conference and go to the NCAA Tournament," said Blanchette. "We were successful in the regular season last year and we want to continue that success in the post-season this year. Our conference gets more competitive each year and we know we cannot take anyone else lightly. We have confidence to finish on top but we also understand it will not be handed to us. We have to go out every day and earn it."

2013-03-01



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