2017 Season Outlook: Youthful Scots Aim to Continue Conference Success

After advancing to the program's 23rd consecutive North Coast Athletic Conference tournament and finishing with an 11-6 record, a young College of Wooster women's lacrosse team, led by veteran head coach Elizabeth Ford, will look to reload after losing an impactful class to graduation.

"Going into this year, and with gaining a few multisport student-athletes back, we are excited to see what they are going to create knowing how they did in the fall and I expect us to compete for a top-four spot in the conference," Ford said.

Sophomore Emme Lawrence returns as a defensive stalwart for the Fighting Scots after tallying a school-record 81 draw controls en route to All-NCAC honors last season.

The Fighting Scots return one all-conference honoree – Emma Lawrence – who registered a school-record 81 draw controls as part of a solid second-year class for the Scots.

"We are excited about the potential that that sophomore class is building on right now and all the things that will be new in their games," Ford said.

Expected to play alongside Lawrence on the back end is classmate Natalie Souleyrette. Souleyrette, a defensive role players a year ago, is expected to step up with a larger defensive role according to the staff.

Offensively, the Scots' scoring contingent was hit hard by graduation and will look to shift gears from a fast-break style offense, Ford noted.

"It's going to be a very different look as far as our attack," Ford said. "It may not be as many fast breaks, but I think we have a few kids that are pretty deceptive and are finishers around the eight-meter, so we'll see a little more eight-meter play from us this year."

Among the returning offensive leaders is senior co-captain Heather Szymanski, who started all 17 games as part of a breakout performance in 2016, where she finished third on the team in goals (38), points (50), and groundballs (42).

"Heather really wants to be more of an impact than she was last year but I think she definitely broke out in 2016. Having that opportunity to step in, she knows that she has to be that leader and she's embracing it. I think she's excited about that opportunity."

Captaining along Szymanski are juniors Helena Enders and draw control specialist Michaela Lawrence, the latter of whom turned in 37 points and 25 goals, including a 13-for-25 conversion rate on free position attempts, as well as 25 draw controls and 14 caused turnovers.

"Michaela is another player that has grown a lot since her freshman year and changed her role as a defender when she came into more of an attacking midfield," Ford said. "We are excited about her potential as a junior to put up more numbers for us there, and her leadership on both ends of the fields I think is going to be key for us too."

Ford expects Enders, noted as a "sneaky attacker", to step into a leadership role in the attacking end after notching 12 goals in as many starts, as well as six assists.

Shifting into a more offensive role is sophomore Megan Healy, who started all 17 contests with 37 groundballs and 23 caused turnovers, and along with Lawrence, will be featured at the draw.

"(Megan) has great defensive knowledge which is part of the reason why she has been a capstone back there for us and she may take on a little more of a different role for us as well," Ford said. "Because of her speed and capacity of getting the ball up the field, she's quick and she's kind of deceptive on the attacking end should she get some good feeds we should hopefully see some nice finishes for her."

Expected to bolster the midfield are sophomores Megan Myers and Rose Taylor. Characterized as having "nice defensive insight", Ford expects Myers, who picked up 10 groundballs and tallied seven caused turnovers last year, to be a threat on both ends of the field, while Taylor, an all-Great Lakes Region midfielder in field hockey, will look to utilize her defensive mind in the midfield after scooping up eight groundballs in 13 appearances last season.

Rounding out the sophomore class are returning attackers Laura Papp, a "naturally quick athlete with a good stick," according to the coaching staff, and Jordan Stone, a "deceptively quick" attacker who is expected to play more of a lower attack role. Each took part in 12 contests last season, with Stone totaling seven goals and one assist in five starts.

Starting between the pipes for the Scots will be Emma Hambright, a first-year out of Portsmouth, N.H.

Wooster opens the season at Div. II opponent Walsh University on March 1 and will make their home debut on March 22 against Hendrix College.