Rutgers Hopes to Make Final Big East Season One to Remember

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (February 10, 2014) A charter member of the Big East women's lacrosse league, Rutgers enters its final season in the conference it has been a member of for 13 years with hopes of capturing its first championship title. Returning 22 letterwinners from a year ago, which includes five of the squad's six leading goal scorers and the core of a defense that ranked sixth nationally, RU is poised for a successful campaign.

"This year's slate provides us with a great opportunity, both in and out of conference, and we are ready to hit the ground running," said head coach Laura Brand-Sias. "With most of our squad returning, including key players who are back from injury, we are excited about our potential for success."

Rutgers was picked fourth in the Big East Preseason Poll and also had four Scarlet Knights selected to the Preseason All-Big East Team. RU concluded the 2013 campaign with a 9-8 overall record after beginning the season with a 7-1 mark to match the best start in program history.

"We certainly faced our fair share of setbacks last year starting in the fall and were without our full projected lineup for every game," said Brand-Sias. "Despite this hurdle the team showed true resolve and earned the best start in school history. Unfortunately, we weren't able to sustain that effort for the duration of the year, but despite our challenges we saw a nationally ranked defense and numerous post season accolades."

The Scarlet Knights return a slew of experience from 2013, including 11 of its 12 starters and over 80 percent of its scoring. Leading the way offensively will be seniors Katrina Martinelli (Moorestown, N.J.) and Megan Clements (Pennington, N.J.), who finished one-two, respectively, in goals scored last year.

Martinelli garnered All-Big East Second Team accolades after leading the squad with a team-best 35 goals and adding 10 assists for 45 points in 2013. She also posted 12 multi-point games and was twice named to the conference weekly honor roll.

Clements was one of four Scarlet Knights named to the 2014 Preseason All-Big East Team after ranking second on the team in goals (21), points (29) and draw controls (30) last season. The New Jersey native showed her ability to score in bunches as she netted a career-high five goals against Hofstra (March 13) and four versus Monmouth (March 2).

At midfield, Brand-Sias looks to redshirt senior tri-captain Amanda Trendell (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) and junior Jenny Vlahos (Manhasset, N.Y.) to lead the group. Trendell was named RU's Midfielder of the Year after finishing in the top five in several statistical categories. Vlahos capped of a solid sophomore campaign in which she started in all 17 contests and was among the nation's best in draw controls, after securing a team-best 47 on the year.

Redshirt junior Lauren Sbrilli (Martinsville, N.J.) and redshirt sophomore Kristin Kocher (Medford, N.J.) return this season after sitting out 2013 due to injury. Despite not playing last season, Sbrilli was still named to the Preseason All-Big East Team after putting forth an impressive showing in her sophomore season in which she ranked second on the team with 33 goals. Additionally, she tied for first on the squad with seven total hat tricks on the year, four of which came against league opponents.

A highly touted recruit out of high school, Kocher saw significant playing time in her rookie season two years ago and will add depth and production at the position.

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