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Women’s lacrosse aims for rebound season
After finishing 2-13 last season, the Quinnipiac women’s lacrosse team is looking to have a bounce-back season, feeling revitalized and ready for the task at hand.
“Our slogan for this year is ‘We Battle,’” co-captain Vicki Kuhn said. “We want to be able to face adversity and to overcome it in everything we do.”
Quinnipiac has been ranked fifth in the MAAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll, which was announced by the league’s office Jan. 29.
“Fifth place is where we should be picked,” Quinnipiac head coach Danie Caro said. “Last year we underachieved in terms of our win-loss record, but despite not winning a lot of games, we were really competitive in almost every game. There were a lot of positives that came from last year.”
The Bobcats have 20 returning players from last year’s team, including a variety of talent. Each of them have the same motive on their mind: winning a conference championship.
“It helps to have good returning leadership, and to have juniors and seniors that buy into what we are trying to do,” Caro said. “They are hungry and they have not had the success that the program has had prior to their arrival here. They want to be like the classes before them and compete for championships.”
The Preseason All-Conference Team was also released, which features Kuhn and co-captain Kyra Ochwat. Both were All-MAAC First Team selections last year.
Despite being honored for their individual performances, though, both said that they would rather have team success.
“I would much rather say I am a MAAC champion than say I was Preseason All-Conference,” Ochwat said. “It’s a great honor to be recognized, but at the end of the day I’d rather have the team honor.”
Ochwat’s 62-point junior season led Quinnipiac by a substantial margin, and her point total ranked fourth in the MAAC despite playing in fewer games than the three conference players.
Ochwat, who is a three-time All-Conference player, is in her senior season and is ranked fourth all-time at Quinnipiac in goals with 117. She’s sixth in points at 160, and is currently on pace to break both records.
Joining Ochwat on the All-MAAC team is Kuhn, a senior that is considered one of the best defenders in the entire conference. She was named one of the team’s captains for the upcoming season.
Kuhn has played in all 47 possible games for Quinnipiac which dates back to her 2012 freshman season.
Both Kuhn and Ochwat look to be the vocal leaders in the locker room this year.
“It’s about educating the younger players so that when we leave, we will have a legacy so they can perform and achieve more than we ever did,” Ochwat said.
In addition to Kuhn and Ochwat, Quinnipiac’s supporting cast is strong. Five of the Bobcats’ eight double digit scorers will return from last year.
Ochwat will have help on the offensive end, thanks to the emergence of graduate student Kelly Babstock.
Babstock, the all-time points leader for Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey, joined the team in mid-March following the end of her time on the ice.
Babstock played in 10 games for the women’s lacrosse team last season, starting four of them. She was named to the MAAC All-Rookie Team and finished last season with 21 points (14 goals, seven assists) which was second-best on the team.
In addition to Ochwat, Kuhn and Babstock, Quinnipiac returns juniors Aileen Carey and Kathleen DeVito, who each recorded 16 points during their sophomore season.
Carey had 12 goals and four assists, while DeVito had 11 goals and five assists in 2014.
In addition to Kuhn, Quinnipiac will rely heavily on senior Briana Fountain and junior Leah Walter to carry the defensive load.
Samantha Tilts anchors the net once again, as she is entering her senior season with the Bobcats. Tilts started all 15 games for Quinnipiac last season, finishing with the highest saves per game average of any goalie in the MAAC last season (10.53).
The Bobcats have eight freshmen on this year’s squad. Caro, however, believes this year’s group is focused and ready to make moves in the MAAC, one year removed from its inaugural season in the conference.
“It is much easier to see a commitment this year,” Caro said. “They are not only saying the right things, but are backing it up with their actions. They worked hard in the weight room and have been watching film. By doing these things, it puts us in the position to compete for a championship.”
Quinnipiac’s journey begins on Saturday, Feb. 21 with its season-opener against Albany. The game will begin at 1 p.m. at the Quinnipiac Lacrosse Turf Field in Hamden.