ADRIAN, Mich. – The Adrian College Women's Lacrosse team will open its 2019 season on Wednesday, Feb. 27 with a 5 p.m. game at Lourdes University. The Bulldogs will look different this year, with 14 new players to go along with 8 returners.
First year coach Brett Asher has been encouraged by the team's play during the fall and early this spring: "We are building and integrating a lot of new people this year, but we can see the potential in this group. While we still have a lot of work to do, I'm very excited to see us get on the field together and see what we can do."
The Bulldogs will be led by four captains this season. Annie Rice (Reistertown, Md./McDonogh), a 2017 First-Team All-MIAA selection, returns for her senior season and will anchor the Bulldogs' attacking unit this year. Rice posted 19 goals and finished fifth in the MIAA with 17 assists in her junior season and currently sits fifth all-time in assists (57), and ground balls (113), and seventh in caused turnovers (50) in the Bulldogs' career record book. "We are going to trust Annie with the ball and to make good decisions for us in the attacking end," Asher said. "Although Annie has had some really quality years here already, I have a lot of confidence that she is going to make a big jump this year and have her best season yet."
Two captains will lead the defensive unit, Rachel Smestad (Senior, Grand Rapids, Mich./Northpointe Christian) and Amanda Tuckey (Junior, New Hudson, MI/South Lyon). Smestad caused 20 turnovers last year, including tying an all-time single game Adrian record by causing 7 turnovers at Hope on April 7, 2018. Tuckey returns after a strong sophomore season in which she caused 18 turnovers and recorded 33 ground balls. "Rachel and Tuckey are going to be focal points of our defense this year. We are going to put them in positions to disrupt our opponents' offense and I think they are both going to excel and thrive in these roles," said Asher.
The final Bulldog captain is Hannah Emerson (SR, Commerce Twp., Mich. /Lakeland). Emerson took over as the Bulldogs' goalie last season and set the Adrian single-season record with 129 saves. Emerson also holds the single-game record for saves (21 against Mt. Union on March 17, 2018) and currently ranks fourth in program history in career saves. Asher has been happy with Emerson's work ethic and ability: "Hannah is always looking to get better and she does a great job being vocal and leading our defensive unit."
As a whole, Coach Asher has been very impressed by the team's four captains thus far, "Annie, Rachel, Tuckey, and Hannah have done a great job leading a young team. I've asked a lot of them and ask them to lead by example, and they have all been up to the task. They have been through the battles with this program and I know they are ready to have a strong final season."
In addition to the four captains, the 2019 Bulldogs will feature four more returning players. Maddie Nicholas (Junior, South Lyon, Mich./South Lyon) returns and will be counted on to step into an important role in the attacking end after scoring five goals last season and turning in a strong effort in the non-traditional fall season. "Maddie is a very smart player and an important piece to what we want to do in the attacking end," Asher said, "we will look for her to continue to make great decisions for us and help facilitate what we are doing offensively and take advantage of situations where she can be a scorer as well."
Also returning for the Bulldogs are a trio of sophomores that had strong freshman campaigns: Gwyneth Carlson (Lake Orion, MI/Lake Orion), Erika McDonald (Hastings, Minn./Hastings), and Hannah Roegner (Huntington Woods, Mich./Mercy). In her freshman season, Carlson was the team's leading goal-scorer (28) and also led the team with 51 ground balls. Roegner also had a breakout freshman year leading the team with 44 draw controls and McDonald was an immediate contributor in the midfield and defensive end, finishing with 23 draw controls. "Our sophomore class is very dynamic – Gwyn, Hannah, and Erika are all versatile players and can help us at multiple positions. We are going to count on them to take the next step this season and I'm confident that all three will be up to the challenge," said Asher.
The Bulldogs will welcome 14 new faces this year. In the fall season, Brooke Barabas (Freshman, South Lyon, Mich./South Lyon East), Carlee Casteel (Freshman, Fellowsvile, W.V./Preston), Cristin Culbertson (Freshman, Naperville, Ill./Naperville North), Olive Stevens (Freshman, Royal Oak, Mich./Cranbrook Kingswood), and Jordyn Wainio (Freshman, Clio, Mich./Grand Blanc) made immediate impacts. "Stevens and Casteel will be looked to as scorers in the attacking end and Culbertson will be counted on heavily on both ends of the field as a midfielder." Asher said. "Barabas is a versatile player who will see time across multiple positions and Wainio will be a crucial part of the team's defensive unit."
Although they did not see time during the fall due to injury, the team is also excited about the potential of two freshmen goalies, Emily Anderson (Cincinnati, Ohio/Indian Hill) and Sydney Doroh (Gobles, Mich./Mattawan).
Also joining the Bulldogs this season are Hannah Chase (Freshman, Calgary, Alberta/Edge School for Athletes), Avery Huxter (Freshman, Bowmanville, Ontario/St. Stephens), Kenzi Heisner (Freshman, Carol Stream, Ill./West Chicago Community), Grace Pavlovich (Freshman, Essex Fells, N.J./West Essex), Victoria Poland (Freshman, Middletwon, R.I./Bishop Stang), Kayla Thom (Freshman, Ray, Mich./Lutheran North), and Tess Sobolewski (Sophomore, Homewood, Ill./Homewood-Flossmoor).
Coach Asher is excited to see what the newcomers can add to the Bulldogs this year: "We had great contributions from our freshmen that played in the fall. Olive (Stevens), Carlee (Casteel), and Culby (Cristin Culbertson) are dynamic offensive players and will add a lot of scoring punch for us this year. Brooke (Barabas) and Jordyn (Wainio) played outstanding for us in the defensive end and picked up what we were doing right away. We also have several players that did not play in our fall scrimmage that have looked very good so far this spring and should really help us this year."
The Bulldogs are coming off of an eighth place finish in the MIAA a season ago and were picked to finish eighth again in this year's preseason poll. Adrian will open the season with five non-conference matchups before beginning MIAA play at Alma on March 27. The MIAA slate will feature five road games (Alma, Albion, Hope, St. Mary's and Kalamazoo) and three home games (Calvin, Trine, and Olivet).
While the external expectations in the preseason poll may be tempered, the Bulldogs feel that they can compete this season. "We talk about having a goal of getting back to the top half of the conference, but we know it won't be easy," said Asher. "There are a lot of quality teams in our league, so to get back in the top half, we are going to have to really work for it and earn it. Nothing will be handed to us, but I like our team and I'm ready to see what we can accomplish this year."
#GoBulldogs | #EarnIt | #GDTBAB