Buffalo, NY - The D'Youville women's lacrosse team continues to grow in numbers, talent, and wins as they enter the 2020 season with the goal of clinching their first playoff berth in program history.
D'Youville finished seventh in their first season in the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) in 2019. With a conference record of 3-6, the women finished just one spot out of the playoffs when the team was expected to finish in tenth, according to the NEAC preseason poll. However, the women went against the predictions of fellow NEAC coaches to compete heavily in their first season with the conference and collect a 7-10 overall record.
Head coach Kate Mayhook enters her fifth season as head coach and has built the program from a club team to a NEAC playoff contender. Mayhook has led the team to an increased win total every year, beginning with zero (2017), to four (2018), and finally seven (2019). Her hopes for this season will rely heavily on a strong returning class of talented players.
"We believe that this year could be a real turning point for our program," said Mayhook. "We have a core group of players that have been with our team for multiple years and have gathered a great deal of experience. Our team has improved year-after-year and with this group of young women, I truly believe they are on the cusp of taking that next step."
Senior defender Julia Prychodko (East Aurora, NY/East Aurora) and junior defender Alison Gareis (Buffalo, NY/Buffalo Seminary) are the two leaders of the defense as both were named NEAC all-conference players in 2019. Prychodko led the team ground balls (36) and tied for fourth in caused turnovers (19) last season while starting every game to earn her NEAC Second Team All-Conference honor. Gareis finished fifth on the team in ground balls (32) after starting and playing in all 17 games for the Spartans as she was named a NEAC Third Team All-Conference player. The two will be expected to be the leaders of the defense and help drive the success of the team.
On the offensive end, senior Sierra Brooks (Grand Island, NY/Grand Island) and junior Marissa Markott (Sanborn, NY/Niagara-Wheatfield) are the top two attackers for the women and two of the top three returning scorers from last season. Markott led the team with in goals (40) and points (49) while finishing fifth in assists (9). As for Brooks, she ranked third in goals (32) and points (43) while placing fourth in assists (11). The two will be the primary threats at the attack position for the women this season.
In the midfield, the women will be led by sophomore Tiffany Cristofanelli (Niagara Falls, NY/Niagara-Wheatfield), senior Marina Campbell (Niagara Falls, NY/Niagara Catholic), and sophomore Riley Riedel (Marilla, NY/Iroquois) as two of the most well-rounded players on the team. Cristofanelli had an fantastic freshman season as she tied for first in assists (13) while placing second in goals (35) and points (48). She has the skills to be one of the best players in the conference. Campbell contributes equally at both ends of the field as she tied for first in assists (13) while playing a sound, responsible game on the defensive end of the field. With Riedel, her length makes her extremely valuable as she was second on the team in draw controls (44) while ranking first in caused turnovers (36) and ground balls (42), fourth in goals (23) and points (32).
With all of the team's talent at each level of the field, coach Mayhook feels that the strength of the team falls at the back end.
"Our defense has a lot of talented players and should be where the strength of our team lies," said Mayhook. "A bulk of our returners at the position all played significant minutes last season and performed at a high-level. Their success as a unit will dictate a lot of the success we are able to have as a team."
Adding to that defense are a pair of very talented sophomores in Amanda Waliszewski (Sanborn, NY/Niagara-Wheatfield) and Clarice Byrne (Boston, NY/Hamburg), who played big roles for the team in 2019. Waliszewski ranked third in caused turnovers (22) and fourth in ground balls (37) with Byrne adding a great deal of awareness and athleticism to the group.
Junior Paige Robinson (Kenmore, NY/Mt. St. Mary Academy) brings another goal scoring threat as she finished fifth on the team in goals (19) in 2019 and will add to a veteran attack. Junior midfielder Isabella Lucania (Webster, NY/Webster-Schroeder) is a sound all-around player that plays well in her own end but is also a solid playmaker on offense as she finished third in assists (12) and fifth in points (27) last season. Fellow sophomore Margaret Merigold (Tonawanda, NY/Mt. St. Mary Academy) is another solid player in the midfield and excellent in the circle, ranking third in draw controls (40) as a freshman.
Junior Amber Lundrigan (Rome, NY/Rome Free Academy) continued to contribute in her sophomore season, tallying eight points with 13 of 15 shots last season coming on goal and a growing role on the team. Sophomores Anna Hayes (Hamburg, NY/Mt. St. Mary Academy), Rebecca Clemons (Holland, NY/Holland), and Savanah Pencille (Lockport, NY/Lockport) will all look to contribute with a season of experience under their belts.
In goal, the team will have a new netminder in freshman Jordyn James (Brighton, NY/Brighton). James is an experienced goalkeeper from her time on the women's soccer team and is continuing to make strides for the women in goal.
The incoming freshmen class of Jordan Pachla (Grand Island, NY/Grand Island), Hannah Baker (Hamburg, NY/Hamburg), Bethany Wolcott (Grand Island, NY/Grand Island), and Kyia Walsh (Macedon, NY/Gananda) all bring unique skills to the team in their first years. Each will look to carve out playing time and create roles for themselves as newcomers.
D'Youville will begin their season with a three-game homestand, beginning with the Houghton Highlanders on Tuesday, March 3 at 5:00pm. The Spartans began their 2019 campaign against the Highlanders as well, defeating them 15-11 as Markott and Cristofanelli scored four goals each.
Following their season opener against Houghton, the women will take on Elmira on Saturday, March 7 at 1:00pm and then Fredonia on Wednesday, March 11 at 5:00pm. The first conference game of the season for D'Youville comes against Wells as the Spartans will host the Express at 1:00pm on Sunday, March 22.