NORTON, Mass. - Wheaton College third-year head coach Emily Kiablick is witnessing a natural progression with the women's lacrosse program. Confident the team is moving in the right direction, Kiablick expects to start seeing results this spring with a squad comprised of 13 returners and seven newcomers.
"Without a doubt, we are a better team than we were a year ago," said Kiablick. "Last year we were better than the year prior. Our scores reflect that. We were out of our league in some games my first year, so last season was about competing. This year is about getting results. We're at the point now of needing to go out and get the job done."
The Lyons are coming off a season in which they finished 5-11, suffering five losses by four goals or less. Wheaton also posted a 2-4 record in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) before falling in the opening round of the league tournament.
Kiablick points to consistency and depth as two potential keys to success. "We played well in some games last spring but lacked consistency," said the coach. "We had a bigger roster a year ago, but we weren't as deep as we are this season. The depth is there, which is ironic because our roster is so small. Top to bottom we're pretty solid, and with everyone showing up each day and working hard, I'm hoping that's a strong indication of what we'll do in games."
Senior captains Marianna Marcellino (Milton, Mass./Thayer Academy) and Tess Meyer (Concord, N.H./Concord) and junior captain Hailey Colburn (Concord, N.H./Concord) will lead the 2011 team. Colburn and Marcellino are returning all-league players. Colburn, who will start up front, paced last year's squad with 52 goals, 26 assists and 78 points. Her 26 assists were the second most in program history. Posting a .542 save percentage in 2010, Marcellino is expected to see time in net, while Meyer will move from the midfield into the attack.
Joining Colburn and Meyer up front will be freshmen Charlotte DeSantis (Darien, Conn./Cushing Academy) and Leila Mills (Brunswick, Maine/Brunswick). Vying for time are juniors Hannah Ferris (Rye, N.H./Portsmouth) and Sabrina Fiori (Newton, Mass./Beaver Country Day School) and freshman Taylor Roy (Mill Valley, Calif./Brewster Academy).
Wheaton's midfield unit consists of junior all-conference player Brittany Whynot (Fountain Hills, Ariz./Fountain Hills), classmates Sydney Ferguson (Jamestown, R.I./North Kingstown), Chelsea McLeod (Concord, N.H./Concord) and Katie Powers (Ashburnham, Mass./Cushing Academy), sophomore Kristen Palmer (East Dorset, Vt./Burr and Burton Academy), and freshmen Hayley Bright (Cumberland, Maine/North Yarmouth Academy) and Devon Soucier (Avon, Conn./Northwest Catholic).
In 2010, Powers and Whynot finished second and third in scoring with 35 and 31 points, respectively, as each tallied 26 goals. Ferguson recorded 19 points, Palmer added 11, and McLeod started all 16 games as a defender.
Sophomore Amy Moreira (Bristol, R.I./Mount Hope) will anchor the team's defense, while classmates Elizabeth Hickey (Weymouth, Mass./Weymouth) and Caitlin Nygren (Harvard, Mass./Bromfield School) and first-year Hannah Whitley (Bow, N.H./Bow) are battling for time. Nygren is playing in her first collegiate season.
Sophomore goalie Stephanie Hoomis (Duxbury, Mass./Duxbury) rounds out the squad, as she and Marcellino are expected to share time as they did a year ago. In 2010, Marcellino and Hoomis saw action in 15 and 13 games, respectively. Marcellino picked up 12 starts and three wins, while Hoomis had four starts and a pair of victories.
Wheaton gets underway this Saturday with a road contest at Salve Regina University before heading to Florida for a three-game slate that includes a clash with national finalist Hamilton College, which is ranked second in the country by the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA). The Hamilton game marks one of five against ranked foes this spring, as the Lyons also face 12th-ranked Tufts University, 16th-ranked Babson College, 17th-ranked Amherst College and 19th-ranked Bowdoin College.
"We're taking things day by day, one goal at a time," added Kiablick. "First, it's exceeding our win total from last season. Then, it's making sure we are one of the top five teams in the conference. Those are goals in the short term. Long term is winning the league tournament and going to the NCAAs. We know we're young and haven't been there in a while, so we have to start small and focus on the little things."