If the coming season for women’s lacrosse could be described in one word, that word would be change. Students can expect to see many new faces this year, both on the sidelines and on the field. The first, and most notable, difference between this year and the past 14 will be Interim Head Coach Amanda Belichick ’07, replacing Holly Wheeler, whose contract was not renewed last summer.
Despite being only 29 years old, Belichick brings with her a wealth of experience, not to mention being the daughter of one of the most successful coaches in National Football League history, Bill Belichick ’75. Having been a talented lacrosse player for the Cardinals from 2004-2007, Belichick understands the competitive spirit that Wesleyan student-athletes bring to the field and has firsthand knowledge of the high level of opposition present in the NESCAC.
“As a whole, [the NESCAC] is the most competitive conference in Division III, and we’re very fortunate to play top-20 teams regularly,” Belichick said. “So it’s exciting to play in a competitive conference.”
In terms of experience, Belichick did not wait long to start her coaching career after graduating. She has been coaching women’s lacrosse since 2007, first working at the high school level before moving up to the collegiate ranks in 2010. Finding herself back on the Wesleyan sideline, Belichick hopes to turn around what has been a difficult string of seasons for women’s lacrosse, which hasn’t had a winning record since 2007.
However, Belichick is not the only new face representing women’s lacrosse: this year’s squad will also be introducing 13 freshmen who will be looking to help replace a graduated group of high-volume scorers. Last year’s scoring trio of Kaylin Berger ’13, Kayla Ellman ’13, and Lydia Kring ’13 will be missed by the team, as the three accounted for 63 percent of the points notched by last year’s squad, as well as more than half of the team’s shots. Nevertheless, Belichick has confidence in the leadership of the returning Cardinals, specifically Captains Madeline Coulter ’14, Emma Frangules ’14, and Abby D’Angelo ’14.
“They have done a fantastic job with the organization and motivation of their teammates, and really leading by example in practice,” Belichick said. “They also did a great job in the off-season preparing the team for the beginning [of the season].”
Daphne Kroessler ’15, Frangules, and D’Angelo return to form Wesleyan’s defensive core. Also reappearing between the pipes is Wesleyan’s keeper from last year, Nina Labovich ’16, back after a solid debut in 2013. Despite being a freshman last year, Labovich was able to place herself in the middle of the NESCAC standings for goalies with an average of 7.13 saves per game and a 42.3 save percentage. The team should look for her to further improve her skills around the net in 2014, as she has gotten some experience under her belt.
All in all, women’s lacrosse this year looks to be one full of unknowns, yet rife with great opportunities for both the players and the new coach. Belichick very accurately described the potential to be found in the upcoming season.
“There’s a lot of room for players to step up,” Belichick said.
The team opens its season with a home game on Saturday, March 1 against NESCAC opponent Hamilton College. The Cardinals will look to avenge a close 9-6 loss from last year when they visited the Continentals.