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Archive for June 2, 2018

June 2, 2018 — Season preview: WPLL

Today, in Olney, Md., an umpire will place a yellow ball in the middle of two lacrosse sticks held parallel to the center stripe of the lacrosse field at Olney Good Counsel (Md.), hold the sticks firm, and blow a whistle.

With that, the inaugural season of the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League will get under way.

These five teams will be barnstorming across an area from Washington, D.C. to Albany, N.Y., mostly playing at sites with large youth lacrosse tournaments, but will also be playing as part of Major League Lacrosse doubleheaders.

The teams are brand new and hard to read when it comes to their personalities, but from watching the individual performers in college and in their time in the UWLX, we can try to figure out what is going to happen:

BALTIMORE BRAVE
Key players: Marie McCool (a), Laura Zimmerman (m/a), Kristen Gaudian (m/a), Dana Dobbie (c), Jenna Collins (m), Taylor Thornton (m/d), Alyssa Leonard (a), Kaylin Morrisette (m)
The team will find success if: The offense realizes that there is only one ball. There is an embarrassment of attacking riches on this team. I think there is also going go be a bit of a dilemma (perhaps, a quadrilemma) in the draw circle. Karri Ellen Johnson, Dobbie, McCool, and Leonard are four of the all-time greats at the center stripe. Dobbie was a human highlight reel in her years with the UWLX. Jenna Collins will be the engine in the midfield, and I look for McCool to be the woman demanding the ball in the final minutes of play.
Where they’ll finish: Second. As good as this team is on offense, they are, I think, vulnerable on defense.

NEW YORK FIGHT
Key players: Zoe Stukenberg (m), Kylie Ohlmiller (m/a), Courtney Murphy (a), Taylor Cummings (c), Kailah Kempney (m), Alice Mercer (d)
The team will find success if: The coaching staff can smooth over the relationships and rivalries within the team. There are plenty of Maryland alumnae on this team, but the pairing of Ohlmiller and Murphy from Stony Brook are looking to add to their bodies of work over the last four seasons at university.
Where they’ll finish: Third. It’s a solid roster, but I think they may struggle in the back, even with Mercer, a Tewaaraton finalist, in the side.

PHILADELPHIA FIRE
Key players: Gussie Johns (g), Caylee Waters (g), Sheila Nesselbush (m), Colleen Magarity (d), Danielle Etrasco (a), Hannah Neilsen (m/a), Holly McGarvey Reilly (d)
The team will find success if: The defense, led by Reilly, can play well in front of Johns and Waters in goal.
Where they’ll finish: First. This is a team blessed with World Cup veterans in Etrasco, Johns, Reilly, and Neilsen, and with so many Northwestern alumnae, and head coach Ricky Fried from the U.S. coaching staff, I think the Fire are the team to beat.

NEW ENGLAND COMMAND
Key players: Ela Hazar (a), Kara Mupo (a), Carly Reed (a), Steph Lazo (a), Bridget Bianco (g), Katie O’Donnell (m), Kristen Igoe (m)
The team will find success if: The attack unit is able to play within themselves and not take too many chances with the ball.
Where they’ll finish: Fifth. However, if Igoe (who is an extra player listed on the roster sheet on the WPLL website) gets into the games, she can change the fortune of the Command.  

UPSTATE PRIDE
Key players: Sammy Jo Tracy (c), Alex Aust (a), Nadine Hadnagy (d), Kara Cannizzaro (m), Danielle Spencer (f), Olivia Hompe (f), Elena Romsburg (m), Molly Wolf (g), Ally Carey (m), Kristen Carr (d)
The team will find success if: The Pride needs to use their offensive gifts — the guile and cunning of Romsburg and Cannizzaro, the height of Spencer and Aust, the shooting of Hompe, and the draws of Tracy. The less predictable the Pride are, the more difficult it will be to beat them
Where they’ll finish: Fourth. However, that could trend significantly upward depending on how the defense plays.