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
Maryland Freshmen Can Make Immediate Impact
by Corey McLaughlin | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff
Freshman Brooke Griffin out of South River (Md.) has impressed her new coach at Maryland. "She makes everything look easy," Cathy Reese says of the midfielder.
If Maryland's dethroning of Northwestern in last spring's NCAA Division I championship game indicates a tectonic shift at the elite level of women's lacrosse, Terrapins coach Cathy Reese doesn't want her team thinking about it. The only change on her mind is that the 2011 team's roster is different than the 2010 roster.
Reese's focus this fall is assimilating nine freshmen into a new team -- one that lost Tewaaraton Award winner Caitlyn McFadden to graduation, but also several other key starters across the field. The leading goal scorer from the national title team, Karri Ellen Johnson, is back, as are attacker Sarah Mollison, midfielder Katie Schwarzmann, defender Brittany Poist and goalie Brittany Dipper.
"Our main focus is on 2011, getting the freshman into the mix," Reese said about fall practices. "Really working to let them learn the college game. Our focus is on basic stuff, not putting in anything different, and just trying to incorporate these new faces in our group and systems."
Through roughly one week of practice and a scrimmage against Virginia, Reese said she was thrilled with many of those freshmen. She's pleased with how they are working with experienced players, like redshirt senior Katie Gallagher, who will lead the defense.
Brooke Griffin, the freshman midfielder from state champion South River (Md.) and the Baltimore Sun's 2009-10 Female Athlete of the Year, has been particularly impressive. Look for her to have instant impact come spring.
"She makes everything look easy," Reese said of the player who, in five postseason games for South River last spring, scored 29 goals and had 16 assists. "A true athlete, good on both ends of the field, has smooth stick work. She's such a natural."
Beth Glaros, a midfielder from Wilde Lake (Md.), has also looked good, Reese said, "on both ends. She does a great job in reading plays, picking off passes. She seems to understand what's going on." Glaros scored a school-record 269 career goals at Wilde Lake.
Midfielders Annie Farrell (Towson, Md.), Amalie Trentzsch (Winters Mills, Md.) and Jen Mendez (Seton Keough, Md.) are athletic freshman, too, who will have an impact on the program, Reese said. Farrell and Mendez have seen more time on defense through the early portion of fall ball.
"We're looking forward to getting through the fall," Reese said. "It's a work in progress, building this 2011 team. But we're thrilled with what we're seeing."
"It's been really encouraging," she added. "The difference between the high school and college game is eye-opening in terms of the speed of the game and the skill of the other athletes. But our freshmen are doing really well. I see a lot them contributing."
FALL BALL BLITZ
2010 Record: 22-1 (6-1 ACC)
2010 In Review: The Terps started the season winning 12 games in a row, lost to North Carolina in early April, then won 10 straight to end 2010. The final win was the most special: a 13-11 comeback victory over five-time defending champ Northwestern in the title game. The win gave the Maryland women's lacrosse program its 10th NCAA championship, but first since 2001 and first in four seasons under Reese.
Goodbye... Caitlyn McFadden. The reigning Tewaaraton Award winner graduated and is now an assistant coach at the University of Florida. The four-year starting midfielder finished her career third on Maryland's all-time assists list (110) and sixth all-time in points (259). She earned most outstanding player honors in the NCAA championship game. She scored two goals, gave Maryland its first lead of the game in the second half after it had trailed 6-0 in the first half, and helped keep Northwestern's Katrina Dowd scoreless.
Hello... Brooke Griffin. The gem of the Terps' incoming class should have a big impact, even with the talent the Terps have returning such as senior middies Laura Merrifield and Brandi Jones. Reese has been impressed with Griffin immediately. "One of the neat things is she's surrounded with players that push her to play better in the midfield," Reese said. "But her natural ability sets her up well."
Offseason Developments: Defenders Katie Gallagher and Alexcia Niumatalolo are both back after redshirt seasons. Niumatalolo is the oldest child of Navy football coach, Ken, and she was shown on television in the stands during the Maryland-Navy football game earlier this fall on ESPN ... The Terps welcome one transfer, Bria Phillips, a midfielder who previously played at UMBC. Phillips was a two-time US Lacrosse All-American as a junior and senior at San Diego-area Coronado High in 2007 and 2008. ... Maryland was one of 33 NCAA championship teams invited to the White House in September for the opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments. President Barack Obama addressed the athletes on the South Lawn for about five minutes. "This is the most athletic talent we've ever had on the South Lawn," Obama said at the start of a speech to about 650 athletes. Click here for video of the event.
Big Question: How does Maryland follow up its national championship season? Winning once is one thing; winning again is another monster. As great a feat as it was for Maryland to beat Northwestern to become national champs, Reese wants her team to leave the accomplishment in the history books and focus anew for the 2011 season. But she said she's not worried about a championship hangover. "I thought about that this summe,r because it's a unique situation that we are in," Reese said. "But we have great leadership on this team, and our upperclassmen and young players are hungry. These guys are going to work hard in 2011."
Fall Schedule: The Terps are busy this fall. They scrimmaged Virginia on Sept. 25 and played Loyola, Ohio State, Vanderbilt and Yale last Sunday. They will host Delaware and Georgetown on Friday, Oct. 15, and travel to Philadelphia on Saturday, Oct. 23, for Penn's play day to go against Notre Dame, Penn and Stanford. Maryland ends its fall season Saturday, Oct. 30 at Georgetown, where it plays Florida, Duke and James Madison.
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