Nine Starters Among Women's Lacrosse's 20 Returning Players

GENESEO, N.Y. -- The women’s lacrosse team brings back nine starters and 11 other veterans from a 2012 team that finished 9-6. The Knights, who have recorded 14 straight non-losing seasons, open their season Saturday, March 2 at Castleton State, return their top seven scorers.

All four starters come back at attack, headed by junior Caroline Buonocore (Syracuse/Westhill), who led the team in scoring last spring. A first-team pick to the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) all-star team the past two years, she’s scored 144 career points (sixth already on the program’s all-time list) including 66 last season. She scored three game-winning goals and collected 22 draw controls, 15 ground balls and nine caused turnovers. She’s joined by senior Lea Paris (Henrietta/Rush-Henrietta), junior Meredith Weber (Bellport/Bellport) and sophomore Katey Hart (Syracuse/West Genesee) – all four started every game a year ago.

Hart scored 44 points with Paris and Weber contributing 36 and 19, respectively. Hart led the team’s attack with 30 draw controls and 29 ground balls and added eight caused turnovers. Paris, a second-year team captain, picked up 18 ground balls and caused 11 turnovers in 2012. She enters her senior season with 85 career points (64-21). Weber recorded 15 goals last season and added 14 ground balls and 12 draw controls.

“Bringing that group back a year older will be a real strength”, says ninth-year head coach Carly Ritchlin. “Hart is faster and more confident; Buonocore has been our leading scorer the past two years and Paris and Weber are both very consistent – they see the field so well and have great stick skills.

Four other Knights return at attack: senior Jen Costanza (Webster/Schroeder), juniors Deanna Ingrassia (Deer Park/Deer Park), Caitlin King (Wading River/Shoreham) and Caitlin Lally (Clarence/Clarence).

Costanza scored four points as a junior. King played in 11 games off the bench last spring, scoring two points. “She’s stepping up and getting more playing time this year,” explained Ritchlin. “She’s got a great shot.”

Sophomore Samantha Grabher (Glen Head/North Shore), who played in six games last season, and first year Erin Down (Scotia/Niskayuna) will both push for playing time.

Geneseo’s starting midfield features three returning starters: senior Rachel Petrone (Rochester/Penfield) and juniors Emily Haggerty (Syracuse/Westhill) and Kylie Caesar (Delmar/Bethlehem). Haggerty, a team captain, led the Knights with 23 assists, 15 free-position goals and 65 draw controls while scoring 66 points to match Buonocore for the team lead. She earned second-team all-SUNYAC recognition in 2012.

Petrone has started every game in her career and is coming off a career-high 49-point season. She already ranks 14th on the program’s all-time scoring list (with 114 points) and ranked third on the team last year in points, goals (37) and ground balls (28). Her 33 draw controls were second. Caesar stepped into a starting role last season and finished with 11 goals, 20 ground balls and 13 draw controls.

“In their third year together, they have a lot of chemistry together,” said Ritchlin. “They’re fast and aggressive, they shoot the ball well and they can play great defense.” Two newcomers – first years Tara Basile (Wantagh/Wantagh) and Marisa Paris (Henrietta/Rush-Henrietta) – round out the midfield unit.

On defense, senior Jenna Theofield (East Northport/Northport) and junior Bridget McGovern (Yorktown Heights/Lakeland) both started every game last spring. Theofield, a team captain this year, has started every game in her career. She picked up 18 ground balls a year ago and caused nine turnovers. McGovern has started since the middle of her first season and recorded 20 ground balls and a team-leading 13 caused turnovers last season.

Sophomore Aileen Kurpis (Yorktown Heights/Yorktown) and first year Meagan Cook (Northport/Northport) are top candidates to join them in the starting line-up. Kurpis played in all but two games in 2012 and scored four goals. “We’re very excited about adding Cook to a group that’s played together for three years,” according to Ritchlin. “She adds a different dimension – she’s very aggressive and the complete package. Our defense will be very quick – the fastest unit we’ve had in a long time. We feel like we can play a few different systems with them.”

Sophomores Jess Kaczor (Lancaster/Lancaster) and Alexis Pelowski (West Seneca/West Seneca East) and junior Helen Fields (Oceanside/Oceanside) also return. First years Liz Felix (Scarsdale/Scarsdale), Bridget Lincoln (Glen Head/North Shore) and Mikaela VanSlyke (Interlaken/Ithaca) are all candidates for playing time.

Senior Julie Bernatzky (Mount Sinai/Mount Sinai) started every game in goal last season, compiling a goals-against average of 11.87 and 152 saves. A team captain, she’s displayed great leadership from the net according to her coach. “Julie’s really stepping up and embracing the role of directing the defense.” Sophomore Laura Passamonte (Baldwinsville/C.W. Baker) appeared in a pair of games last year.

Geneseo’s arduous schedule includes five 2012 NCAA playoff teams (Buffalo State, Castleton State, Cortland, Fredonia and St. John Fisher) as well as two  other teams ranked in the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) preseason poll: #20 Ithaca and #21 Brockport.