2014 SUNY Potsdam Women's Lacrosse Season Preview
For the second season in a row, the SUNY Potsdam women's lacrosse team will welcome a large group of newcomers. Eleven new faces will join 10 talented veterans for the 2014 campaign. The 10 freshmen and one junior transfer come from strong high school programs. The returnees include an All-SUNYAC selection among solid offensive players to go with very experienced midfielders and defenders.
As usual, leadership will be a strength for the Bears this year. While 2013 captains Denise Johns and Whitney Boshart were lost to graduation, senior goalie Jen Chmiel (Rochester, N.Y./Eastridge) returns to wear the "C". Junior midfielders Margaret Wall (Rochester, N.Y./Aquinas) and Katie Putnam (Chittenango, N.Y./Chittenango), who will serve as captains for the first time this season, will join Chmiel.
"They've put a lot of time in during the offseason towards challenging the team to stay competitive and fit," said 12th year head coach Lauren Bruce. "They're a great group to work with. Even though Margaret and Katie are juniors, they've been in a leadership role since they were sophomores. They've been great leaders by example with their strong work ethic."
Offensively, Potsdam will work to overcome the losses of Boshart and Johns, but the Bears return their other five top scorers who should be even more effective this season. The midfield features multiple battle-hardened players and the defense will be young, but capable.
Junior Bailey Weigel (East Amherst, N.Y./Williamsville East) is back to lead the offense this season. After joining the team as sophomore, Weigel led the Bears in scoring with 22 goals and 11 assists for 33 points. She also set the program's single-season record and topped the SUNYAC with 96 draw controls. The performance resulted in Weigel's selection to the all-conference second team. Senior Michelle Varney (Canton, N.Y./Hugh C. Williams) is Potsdam's only other returnee up front. Like Weigel, Varney was a newcomer to the team last year, but still stood out with 13 goals and an assist in 14 games.
Four freshmen will join the attack this season. Nicole Damon (Baldwinsville, N.Y./C.W. Baker) and Mariah Pierce (Syracuse, N.Y./Westhill) come to the Bears from Central New York, while Sarah Glagolev (Webster, N.Y./Webster-Thomas) comes from Webster and Katie Lapinski (Canton, N.Y./Hugh C. Williams), a first team All-Northern as a Canton Golden Bear, makes a short trip up Route 11.
Potsdam's midfield boasts six veterans. Wall led the Bears in goals with 24 and was third in points with 26, while starting all 14 games. She was third on the team in ground balls with 32, caused 12 turnovers and totaled 17 draw controls.
Junior Emily Petit (Queensbury, N.Y./Queensbury) is a strong two-way midfielder that will be relied on to lead the defense, while also providing some scoring punch. Petit was fifth on the team in points (11g, 7a, 18pts), second in ground balls (38) and draw controls (22) and led Potsdam with 24 caused turnovers. The junior was seventh in the conference in ground balls and third in caused turnovers.
Sophomore Bri McClusky (Watertown, N.Y./Immaculate Heart) had a solid freshman campaign in 2013 with nine goals and six assists for 15 points, while starting 12 of the team's 14 contests. She provided one of last season's top highlights with a game-tying goal at the buzzer in the Bears' come-from-behind 15-14 overtime victory against New Paltz. She also collected 17 ground balls and caused five turnovers.
Sophomore Brittany Blake (South Glens Falls, N.Y./South Glens Falls) played in 12 games with three starts last season with seven goals and an assist. She heated up offensively as the season wound down, scoring six goals in the last three contests, including a career-high three against Oswego.
Putnam, a reliable defensive midfielder, started all 14 games for Potsdam in 2013 and will be counted on with Petit to anchor the team in its defensive end. She scored three goals last season to go along with 14 ground balls, four draw controls and six caused turnovers.
Sophomore Lizzie Marchbanks (Liverpool, N.Y./Liverpool) rounds out the returning midfielders. She played in 12 games with three starts. Marchbanks scored a goal and totaled 13 ground balls, four draw controls and five caused turnovers.
Just two freshmen will join the Bears at midfield this season. Alyssa Ferenczy (Williamsville, N.Y.Williamsville South) comes from Williamsville along with Parishville-Hopkinton standout Michaela Cole (Parishville, N.Y./Parishville-Hopkinton).
Sophomore Maggie McCabe (Camillus, N.Y./West Genesee) is back on defense for the Bears. Last season, she played in all 14 games with 13 starts. McCabe scored two goals, was third on the team in ground balls (32), fourth in caused turnovers (10) and also grabbed six draw controls.
On defense, three freshmen and a junior will try to fill the holes left by the graduation of 2012 All-SUNYAC selection Britanny Coffey, former team MVP Erika Olsowske, Stephanie White and Renee McKay. Freshmen Hannah Keggins (Watertown, N.Y./Watertown), Lauren Haase (Williamsville, N.Y./Williamsville South) and Jess Stern (Huntington, N.Y./Huntington) join junior Jefferson Community College transfer Caitlin Stone (Watertown, N.Y./Immaculate Heart) as the new additions to the defensive ranks.
Chmiel returns to start for Potsdam between the pipes. After spending two seasons behind the program's all-time wins leader Kaci Milligan, the Bears' captain came into her own in 2013. Chmiel started every game, notching four victories and recording 118 saves in 795 minutes.
Freshman Devan Olschewske Canandaigua, N.Y./Canandaigua) will back up Chmiel this season. Despite being a first year player, the younger sister of Bears' great Molly Lehman-Lewis could earn more time on the field as the season progresses.
Bruce is very confident in the duo.
"Jen and Devan are both very athletic and vocal goalies," Bruce said. "They're very good quarterbacks for our defense and they aren't afraid to take risks. They'll push each other in practice and make each other better. I'm comfortable with Devan even as a freshman, but she'll have a chance to learn, while playing behind a talented veteran like Jen."
The Bears will face the usual difficult SUNYAC schedule, which includes three teams ranked in the IWLCA preseason poll. The nonconference slate will include local rivals Clarkson, St. Lawrence and Canton along with familiar Central New York foes Utica and Morrisville. Potsdam will also make its annual appearance in the Spring Fling Tournament in West Palm Beach, Fla., where the Bears will face RIT and Concordia University of Wisconsin.
Potsdam opens the season at Clarkson on March 6, at 4 p.m. The Bears open conference play on April 1, at New Paltz.