Practice pennies, neon green laces, new faces and the promise of a new season not far off -- all signs point to fall ball, college lacrosse's annual rite of initiation.
With 2010 in the books and 2011 in mind, LMO's "Fall Ball Blitz" series checks in with coaches and players around the country for the latest developments.
RECENT "FALL BALL
BLITZ" STORIES | ARCHIVE
Doherty Era Underway at Penn State
by Corey McLaughlin | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff
Co-captain Laura Lesnick says new Penn State women's lacrosse coach Missy Doherty "believes in us." A better showing against teams like Northwestern in the ALC would help confirm that belief in 2011.
© Mark Selders
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- On the first day of fall
ball practice last Monday, Missy Doherty, the new head coach and
voice of Penn State women’s lacrosse, addressed the team
frequently during breaks in the action. She sounded like this:
“If you have the ball in your stick, you have to believe you are the best player on the field...”
“Seventy-five percent of you want the ball. The 25 percent that are hiding, you’re hurting your teammates...”
“If you weren’t selfish as an attacker, you would never score...”
“You need to act like you’re the best player on the field. Don’t hide. Otherwise you’ll be hiding on the sideline when it comes game time...”
And finally, before the final simulated quarter of a scrimmage, perhaps trying to provide a spark, Doherty said of players’ effort: “Our goal is to be a top-10 team. This is OK for top-20 or 30.” She ended the hour-and-a-half long practice by telling players, “This was definitely a good first day.”
In the offseason, Doherty left Towson -- where she went 79-46 in seven seasons as head coach and led the Tigers to three CAA championships -- to take the Penn State job that opened when Suzanne Isidor resigned after 10 seasons as coach of her alma mater.
Doherty didn’t anticipate making a move to State College, or anywhere. In fact, the Penn State athletic department contacted her first to gauge interest.
“I didn’t really have a big connection,” Doherty, an Annapolis native and former Maryland defender, said about Penn State. “Maybe just having the success we had at Towson, growing that program to where it ended up when I left was a great experience.
"As a professional, you always want to take your position to the
next level. Coming here is kind of the next step.”
Doherty inherits members of a Penn State team that finished 10-7 in 2010 and lost in the American Lacrosse Conference semifinals.
The expectation for 2011 is to be a top-10 team that is highly competitive in the ALC, which includes Northwestern, Ohio State, Florida and Vanderbilt.
Penn State returns six of its top eight scorers, but has some holes to fill on defense. Not to mention adjust to a new coach.
But "we’re not trying to be a recovering team,” said co-captain Laura Lesnick. “We’re trying to be a top-10 team. [Missy] believes in us. She’s not ready to rebuild either. She’s ready to take off from here. That’s exciting, that she’s not waiting around.”
FALL BALL BLITZ
Team: Penn State
2010 Record: 10-7
2010 In Review: The Nittany Lions struggled in the American Lacrosse Conference and against some of the nation’s top teams. They went 1-4 in the ALC and lost to Northwestern in the semifinals of the conference postseason tournament. Thire record against ranked opponents was 3-5.
Goodbye... Theresa Bucci. The 2010 first team
All-ALC pick was a senior last season. She led the team with 30
goals, becoming the first Lion since 2006 to reach the 30-goal
plateau. She was third on the team in points. Maria Valderas, who
started every game of her four-year career at midfield, has also
graduated. So has last year’s starting goalie, Stephanie
Ellis, and draw control leader, Erica Mihm.
Hello... Mackenzie Cyr. The two-time US Lacrosse All-American attacker helped Winters Mill (Md.) to state titles in 2008 and 2010. The athletic lefty was a four-year varsity starter and had 427 career points with 202 goals and 225 assists. She can also help on draws. “I’m just getting used to the whole team,” Cyr said. “I hope to have a good impact. I’m just going to try hard and see where it gets me.”
Offseason Developments: Doherty added former Princeton assistant Amy Altig to the Penn State staff and retained Tara Hohenshelt from Isidor’s staff. Altig, a goalie on the 2010-11 U.S. women’s national team, was an assistant at Princeton the last three years. She’ll coach the goaltenders and defense. Hohenhselt will help with the offense. Hohenshelt’s husband, Dennis, is an assistant coach with Penn State’s dominant women’s volleyball team... The Lions also brought in a highly touted recruiting class, led by Cyr and midfielder Lauren Purvis (Maple Glen, Pa./ Hatboro-Horsham High School), who was MVP of her team at the Champion High School Showcase. Purvis, however, is not with the team during fall ball. She is a starter on the Penn State field hockey team. She has eight points through seven games. Her older sister, Jenny, is also on the field hockey team.
Big Question: Is Penn State actually a top-10 team? The Lions sure hope so. Said Doherty: “We’re in a tough conference with Northwestern, Ohio State, Florida, Vanderbilt. If we end up leading our conference or among the leaders, it means we’re probably competing very well nationally. Being a team that can compete within the ALC is a goal.”
Fall Schedule: Penn State hosts Lehigh (11 a.m.) and Rutgers (2:30 p.m.) to open fall ball Sunday... The Nittany Lions return to action Oct. 17 for the Navy Tournament in Annapolis, Md. They'll play Georgetown (12 p.m.) and Navy (1 p.m.)... Fall ball concludes Oct. 23 with the big George Mason Tournament in Fairfax, Va., with games against Duquesne (10 a.m.), Louisville (12 p.m.), Villanova (3 p.m.) and La Salle (4 p.m.)