LANCASTER, Pa. -- Franklin & Marshall starts the 2015 women's lacrosse season on Wednesday when the Diplomats host No. 13 York at Tylus Field at 4:00 p.m. The Diplomats will look to make it to their 11th Centennial Conference Championship and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the 16th time in school history this season.
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F&M returns 24 members, including seven starters, from last year's team that finished the season with a 17-6 record and advanced to the NCAA Regional Finals for the second year in a row. With a majority of their starters back and a strong core of underclassmen ready to step up, the Diplomats are poised to win their sixth CC Crown and make their fifth appearance in the NCAA Final Four.
Senior Brittney Jorgenson and junior Grace Saliba return at the attack position. Jorgenson finished 2014 with 34 goals and seven assists while Saliba tallied 21 goals with 22 helpers. Freshman Paige Moriarty will start at the third attack position while sophomore Gabby Frank and senior Kimberly Abruzzo will see significant time coming in off the bench.
The Diplomats return two Second Team All-Region players in the midfield this season in senior Emily Everdell and junior Anastasia Mergner. Everdell was second on the team in goals with 42 and points with 45 last season. Mergner led the conference in draws with 109, a mark that easily eclipsed her own school record of 82 from a season before. She caused 24 turnovers last season, which was the fifth-most in the conference and led the Diplomats. Her 42 ground balls also led the team and were good for the fifth most in the CC.
Senior Megan Kelly will provide valuable minutes along with seniors Casey Madden and Emily D'Erasmo. Kelly had 56 groundballs and 34 draws in 2014 while Madden netted 12 goals and D'Erasmo finished the season with seven points (6g, 1a), 18 ground balls and seven caused turnovers. Freshman Katie Groenke will also look to factor into the rotation.
The strength of the Diplomats this season is their defense with three starters and a key reserve returning. Headlining the group is sophomore, Sarah Bozzo. Bozzo garnered First Team IWCLA All-Region and First Team All-CC last year and paced a defensive unit that allowed the second-fewest goals per game in the CC. Bozzo gathered the second-most groundballs on the team with 33, while her 19 caused turnovers was tied for second.
Juniors Caroline Doran and Samantha Blicht both have started in almost every game in their careers at F&M, will get the nod again this year. Blicht caused 18 turnovers and scooped up 21 ground balls while Doran finished with 25 ground balls and 13 turnovers. Sophomore Vanessa Budd will start as well after playing in all 22 contest last year and sophomore Peyton Annese will be part of the rotation.
Junior Kaitlin Hardt gets the nod in the cage and will replace four-year starter and All-American Kelsey Hoffman. Hardy saw action in seven games last year with two starts and finished the season with 14 saves and a 6.76 goals against average. Freshman Danielle Harrington may also see time in the cage this year.
The Diplomats placed second in the CC preseason poll, behind defending CC Champion Gettysburg. Washington came in third followed by Dickinson and McDaniel. F&M is ranked eighth in both the Lacrosse Magazine Preseason Poll and the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWCLA) Preseason Poll.
The Road Ahead
The Diplomats will face six teams in the top-20 this season. Salisbury (1st), Gettysburg (6th) Washington & Lee (12th) York (13th), Washington (17th) and Stevenson (18th) all appear on F&M's 2015 schedule. F&M heads to Brooklandville, Md. this Saturday to face off against Washington & Lee at St. Paul's School, beginning at 1:00 p.m., while their opening CC game of the year is set for Saturday, March 21 at Muhlenberg, beginning at 1:00 p.m.
Follow Along (Social Media)
All of your favorite Diplomat athletic teams are available on social media. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram, like them on Facebook and subscribe to the Diplomats YouTube page for frequent highlight videos of games throughout the season.