Women’s lax looks for strong season

Andy McDonough

The women’s lacrosse team is hoping that this is their year.

The Bobcats suffered a 13-8 loss to Mount St. Mary’s in the semifinal of the NEC tournament last season. That loss capped off a 7-9 season, including a 5-3 record in the NEC. This year, they hope to improve on that record.

“We want to do something different, to have a different result,” head coach Danie Caro said.

The team’s clear goal in 2008 is to bring an NEC championship to Hamden for the first time.

“The goal is always going to be to win the NEC,” Caro said.

The Bobcats bring back most of their key players from last year, especially on defense. Returning such experience is a boon for a team that was second-best in the country at causing turnovers last year.

Senior team captain Jamie Zeitler will anchor the strong Bobcat defensive unit.

“As a senior I have really high expectations,” Zeitler said.

Zeitler, along with fellow defender sophomore Brittany Hauser, earned All-NEC Second Team honors in 2007.

Behind that strong defense will sit sophomore goaltender Hannah Nelson. Nelson surrendered the second-fewest goals in the NEC last season.

“Hannah’s one of the best goaltenders in the league,” Caro said.

Junior midfielder Tiffany Manzi will share the responsibilities of team captain with Zeitler. Manzi earned NEC Rookie of the Year and All-NEC First Team honors in 2006.

“We have high expectations for this year,” Manzi said.

Junior midfielder Ashley Valentine will also play a major role on the 2008 squad. Health is a priority for Valentine, who has suffered a torn ACL in her career.

The offense is far more unproven, as Katy Delagi as the lone senior.

With a young squad in 2008, Quinnipiac hopes to expand on the success of recent years.

Caro brought 13 years of coaching experience to Hamden in the summer of 2005. She guided the Bobcats to the NEC tournament for in each of her first two seasons, earning a record of 16-16.

The Bobcats begin 2008 ranked fourth of nine teams in the NEC preseason poll.

However, the season began promisingly last Wednesday with a 16-9 win over Iona at home.

“For our first game we did pretty well,” Manzi said.

The team’s offensive effort particularly impressed Caro. “I think it was a big confidence builder to open with offense as a strength.”

The Bobcats dive into their schedule over spring break, traveling to California to play UC-Davis and UC-Berkeley next week.

“At this point, every game is a key game,” Caro said.

However, she emphasized the importance of winning NEC games. The winner of the NEC earns the right to host the NEC tournament in late April.

Caro also stressed the importance of her team displaying maturity, and playing at their maximum level.

“I think consistency is going to be key,” Caro said.

Zeitler agreed that it is vital for the Bobcats to play well from start to finish.

“I think that we have to work on putting a whole game together,” Zeitler said.

With just one game down, the 2008 women’s lacrosse season is wide open. Win or lose, the Bobcats should provide competitiveness and excitement.