LANCASTER, Pa. – Expectations are high this season for the women's lacrosse team – they always are. The Diplomats won their fifth-straight Centennial Conference (CC) title last season and return all 12 starters.
F&M finished last year with a 19-3 record, including a perfect 9-0 mark in conference action, and look to become the first school to ever win six CC titles. The Diplomats advanced to their 14th NCAA Tournament and have played in the final weekend in four out of the last five seasons and they expect to be there again this year.
"We expect to be playing at the level of a national champion on a day-to-day and game-to-game basis," said coach Lauren Paul.
Getting there will not be an easy task. F&M has one of toughest schedules in the country with six of the top-15 teams, including the top-three, appearing on its 2012 slate. No. 1 Gettysburg, No. 2 TCNJ, No. 3 Cortland State, No. 6 Salisbury, No. 13 Messiah and No. 15 Washington and Lee all show up on F&M's 2012 schedule.
"We have an incredibly difficult schedule and are excited to be challenged by the best of the best," Paul said. "Playing the top teams in the nation will help us grow as players and a team and prepare us for the latter part of our season."
Headlining F&M's returners are All-Americans Cat Serpe, Erin Dunne and Anne Brockmeyer. Serpe earned second team honors from the IWCLA and Synapse Sports while Brockmeyer and Dunne were selected to the third team by the IWCLA. Brockmeyer also earned a spot on the Synapse Sports All-America Second Team.
Serpe brings an all around game to the field with 35 goals and 19 assists last season. She recorded a team-best, five game-winning goals, including the differential in the 7-6 CC Championship game victory over Gettysburg. It was the second-straight year the game was decided by a goal, and the second-straight year that Serpe decided the matter. She won 29 draws, scooped 23 ground balls and forced a dozen turnovers
Brockmeyer spearheaded one of the nation's top defensive units, limiting the opposition to 6.57 goals per game in 2011. The senior caused 16 turnovers, gathered 26 ground balls and won 12 draws.
Dunne emerged as the Diplomats' top-finisher in 2011, burying 54 shots and assisting on 16 more. Three of her goals were game winners. The senior caused a team-high, 20 turnovers. She won 32 ground balls and 35 draws last year.
Also returning on attack are senior Lauren Ehrhardt, junior Lauren Selawski and sophomore Caroline Krohn. Ehrhardt tallied 34 goals and helped on 20 more last year. She won 35 draws and scooped up 12 ground balls. Selawski was second on the team with 35 goals, five of which stood as game-winners. She dished out 20 assists with 10 ground balls. Krohn scored 24 times with 17 assists in her freshman campaign. Ali Kelly saw action in 19 games last year, with six goals and one assist, and should take on a larger role this season.
Mary McNutt, Katie Delaney and Maggie Mae Shields join Serpe in the midfield. McNutt had 16 ground balls, won 16 draws and scored six times a year ago. Delaney tallied 24 goals, had 28 groundballs and caused 11 turnovers. Shields led the team with 40 grounds and 19 caused turnovers. The junior scored on 26 occasions and helped on six more.
Casey Downie, Rebecca Foley, Megan Cohen and Jordan Quinn will team up with Jen Noon, Libby Nichols and Brockmeyer on the defensive side of the field. All bring different strengths with them, which will allow the Diplomats to become more versatile on defense this year. Christie Bonfiglio and freshman Sarah Dennison should also see time on defense this season.
Sophomore Kelsey Hoffman returns between the pipes this season. Hoffman compiled a 16-2 mark in her rookie year last season. She gave up 6.77 goals a game and stopped 102 shots. Rebecca Rosen will back up Hoffman this season.
Joining Paul and Caitlin Powderly on the sideline this season is 2010 graduate Lidia Sanza. Sanza earned multiple All-America certificates when she stood in goal for F&M's two national championships.
The Diplomats open the season Saturday in Lancaster against 15th-ranked Washington and Lee at 1:00 p.m.