Buffalo, NY - The D'Youville women's lacrosse team embarks on a new season beginning this week and are ready to hit the ground running as part of a new conference in 2019.
D'Youville joins the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) this year and will compete with local schools such as Hilbert and Medaille. The entrance into the league comes as the team continues to grow in their NCAA Division III tenure.
In her fourth season with the team, head coach Kate Mayhook will lead a growing and improving team. In 2018, the women finished with a 4-9 record and won their first game in program history to begin their 2018 campaign. Throughout the season the women played several tough games, suffering two losses by two goals or less.
A returning core group of players will lead a relatively young roster this season. Sophomores Marissa Markott (Sanborn, NY/Niagara-Wheatfield) and Isabella Lucania (Webster, NY/Webster-Schroeder) are the top returning goal scorers on the team whit 25 and 15 respectively. Markott finished second on the team with 27 points while Lucania finished third in points with 21 and second with six assists.
On the defensive end, senior goalkeeper Megan Dulniak (Cheektowaga, NY/Cheektowaga) and senior defender Julia Prychodko (East Aurora, NY/East Aurora) help solidify the back end. Dulniak was the only player to play in goal for the Spartans last season with 159 saves throughout the season. As for Prychodko, she was one of the team's top players as she finished second in ground balls and tied for second in caused turnovers last season.
Veterans in seniors Sierra Brooks (Grand Island, NY/Grand Island) and Julie Fleming (Tonawanda, NY/Mt. St. Mary Academy) will be important presences on both ends of the field with Brooks in the attacking end and Fleming in the defensive end. Junior Marina Campbell (Niagara Falls, NY/Niagara-Wheatfield) added depth offensively as she finished her first season with the team fourth in goals with 10.
The freshman class for D'Youville will make major contributions as they will be given every chance to succeed and earn playing time. Midfielder Tiffany Cristofanelli (Niagara Falls, NY/Niagara-Wheatfield) will be a versatile threat at both ends of the field and will be a key piece of the team. Fellow midfielder Margaret Merigold (Tonawanda, NY/Mt. St. Mary Academy), defender Amanda Waliszewski (Sanborn, NY/Niagara-Wheatfield), and midfielder Riley Riedel (Marilla, NY/Iroquois) will all be important contributors in their first season as Spartans.
Several second year players will continue to grow into their roles as the season gets underway. Alison Gareis (Buffalo, NY/Buffalo Seminary), Dominique Riforgiato (Freodnia, NY/Fredonia), Paige Robinson (Kenmore, NY/Mt. St. Mary Academy), Amber Lundrigan (Rome, NY/Rome Free Academy), and Rebecca Sliwowski (Niagara Falls, NY/Niagara Falls) all saw quality playing time last season and have continued to work towards increased roles this season. Junior Rachel McMahan (Grand Island, NY/Sacred Heart Academy) has also come on in years past, continuously increasing her importance to the team.
The team has newcomers such as Anna Hayes (Hamburg, NY/Mt. St. Mary Academy), Kaylee Heschke (Newfane, NY/Newfane), Alexandria McBride (Elma, NY/Iroquois), and Clarice Byrne (Boston, NY/Hamburg) that are all two-sport athletes at D'Youville. Each brings athleticism and energy to the team as role players. Junior Allison Schuman (Lancaster, NY/Lancaster) will bring a veteran presence for the women while Olivia Manzella (Dunkirk, NY/Dunkirk), Savanah Pencille (Lockport, NY/Lockport), and Rebecca Clemons (Holland, NY/Holland) look for opportunities in their rookie seasons.
In their first NEAC Preseason Poll, the women were expected to finish ninth in the conference as voted on by opposing coaches. Despite being a new member of the conference, the women played five NEAC institutions last season, defeating two of them.
Moving up their season opener due to weather, D'Youville will begin their season on Friday, March 1 as they travel to play Houghton at 4:30pm. The first home game for the women will follow on Saturday, March 9 as the team hosts Rochester at 1:00pm. On Saturday, March 23, the Spartans will host SUNY Poly for their first ever NEAC game at 1:00pm.