Hilbertís inaugural team for womenís lacrosse will be captained by, from left: Caitlyn Jacob, Robbi Bailey, Maria DelMonaco and Jordan Botsford. (Photo courtesy of Hilbert College)
Womenís lacrosse has come to Hilbert College, which will field its first official varsity team during the Lady Hawksí 2013 inaugural NCAA Division III season. After a number of seasons in preparation playing as a club team, Hilbert, with a 17-player roster, will compete with a 13-game independent schedule against opponents from the NEAC and AMCC conferences, under head coach Erin Robson.
Leading the Lady Hawks into a challenging schedule against a number of well-established programs in NY, PA and Ohio are senior captains Maria DelMonaco and Caitlyn Jacob of Derby, starters from the 2011-2012 club program who will anchor the Hawks at the defensive end of the field. Also among the captains are multi-sport student-athletes, junior midfielder Robbi Bailey and sophomore attacker Jordan Botsford.
Local Hamburg student-athletes and graduates of Frontier High School, Sarah Lorusso, a sophomore, and Kristi Mergenhagen, a junior, will be called upon to contribute on offense, especially early-on with goal-scoring. Lorusso was a pivotal player in winning a Section VI Class A title, as well as being named to the Section VI Second Team all-conference as a senior.
Rachael Bergman, a sophomore transfer from Kent State, is expected to move the transition quickly from defense to attack on the fast break, as well as develop scoring opportunities around the cage. Fellow sophomores Chantelle Mikilajczak of Derby and Miquita Potts will be looked to for their aggressive play. Also returning will be starting goaltender sophomore Meghan Stewart, who led Hilbertís club team in saves last year.
Seven freshmen make up the remainder of the roster. Out-of-state recruit Olivia Tom joins the squad following a successful run in the playoffs with the Hilbert womenís volleyball team, while Harlie Decker can be an asset on both low defense and high attack. Freshman recruit Kelly Mandell should also help put the ball in the net. In addition, fellow freshmen Julianne Spring, Shannon Campbell, Khadene Jarrett and Kanika Haggins will be competing for playing time in the midfield.
Hilbert prepared for the season with an intense four-week fall-ball non-traditional season and since then, the Lady Hawks have worked on their techniques individually for a quick start this month. The squad has shown continuous improvement since their fall debut and Robson predicts that the group surpasses expectations as the underdog in many match-ups this spring.
Hilbert opened with a 14-5 win over Grove Cityís club team and traveled to play at Franciscan University on March 12. The Lady Hawks will open their home slate March 23 against Thiel College. Cazenovia, Franciscan and Houghton make appearances in Hamburg, while Hilbert travels to Alfred, Wells, Medaille, SUNYIT before ending its season at Mount Union College.