Bad Conditions Don't Dim Action at Navy Fall Ball
Navy's Fall Ball Day is usually the platonic ideal of fall ball – gorgeous weather at Rip Miller Field, one of the best places in the country to watch lacrosse. While the 2013 edition was unfortunately overcast and occasionally sodden with rain, the quantity and quality of the teams were still impressive. Below are a few highlights from Annapolis, where all teams played 35-minute running clock sessions throughout the day. All scores and statistics are unofficial.
Navy's defense had a standout performance against defending national champion North Carolina, winning 3-2. (The Tar Heels would have escaped with a tie, if the officials had not called back a goal for an illegal stick.) The Midshipmen fared less well against Syracuse's powerful offense, falling 6-0. The Orange zone gave Navy fits; it appears that the Midshipmen are still searching for a replacement for all-time leading scorer Jasmine DePompeo, who graduated last year.
The process of defending their first national title will be a new mental challenge for the Tar Heels, especially without Tewaaraton finalist attacker Kara Cannizzaro. That said, even without Cannizzaro, North Carolina's offense looks sharp. Abbey Friend's inside moves, coupled with a powerful sidearm shot, were sharpened during this summer's FIL Women's World Cup (Friend played for Canada) and junior midfielder Taylor George ripped off a hat trick in a 6-6 tie versus James Madison. By comparison, the defense struggled, with sophomore goalie Meg Ward out with an undisclosed injury and freshman Caylee Waters getting her first look at Division I play. Another interesting note from the Tar Heels' top-rated freshman class: midfielder Maggie Bill will not participate in fall ball, as she is a forward for North Carolina's soccer team. The Tar Heels' lacrosse team and soccer team are both the defending NCAA champions, and the soccer team is currently 11-2 and ranked No. 1 in the nation. Bill has seen minutes in 7 soccer games so far.
The Dukes get the award for most enthusiastic about playing an unscored scrimmage in the pouring rain – James Madison had a barking cheer for every single draw and didn't seem to notice the weather. Towering senior attacker Amy Roguski had an assist and a goal in the tie against North Carolina, and junior attacker Stephanie Finley added two more goals. The Dukes were edged by Northwestern, 6-5, in a later scrimmage.
Even without sophomore attacker Kayla Treanor and assistant Katie Rowan, who were away with U.S. national team commitments, the Orange attack looked sharp, especially on the fast break. Freshman Taylor Poplawski was an excellent complement for veteran attackers Alyssa Murray and Devon Collins in Treanor's absence, and the CBA (N.Y.) grad has truly impressive speed. Defensively, the Orange employed a zone defense, which they used occasionally during the 2013 season. Goalies Kelsey Richardson and Alyssa Costantino are still sharing time and alternating starts.
The Buffs made their east-coast NCAA debut, and lost their first scrimmage to Navy, 5-4. It was a choppy game, thanks to fall rustiness and the heaviest rain of the morning; no one scored for the first 10 minutes of the scrimmage thanks to back-and-forth turnovers. When scoring finally picked up, freshman midfielder Emily Bresnahan got the honor of scoring Colorado's first goal on a low shot. Goalie Paige Soenksen showed veteran poise in her first NCAA appearance – she stuffed a Navy attacker on a fast break on her high nonstick stick, and later made a point-blank save in an unsettled situation.