MORRISVILLE, N.Y. – Morrisville State College women's lacrosse is gearing up for the 2017 season, which is scheduled to open Tuesday at Rhodes College in Tennessee, and will turn towards its roster that brings a wealth of experience to the Mustang Valley to create a new dynamic as they hit the field this season in pursuit of their team goals.
Morrisville State returns nine to the roster that made its seventh straight appearance in the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) tournament just a year ago after finishing conference play with an 8-1 slate, adding six newcomers that have already increased the quality of athleticism to take the tempo of play to a new level in the preseason.
All-conference selections Elizabeth Leva (Hoosick Falls, N.Y.) and Courtney Cavellier (Rodman, N.Y.) return to command the attacking unit for the Mustangs after combining for 89 points a year ago, each earning first team all-conference accolades. Leva dominated the midfield with a conference best 112 draw controls, while Cavellier ranked sixth in scoring in the NEAC with 28 conference tallies.
"Offensively we will be much more disciplined," said third year head coach Kelsey VanAlstyne. "We will look to make great decisions with the ball, and strive to make every player a threat, so they can be successful from all angles of the field."
"Liz and Courtney bring a lot of experience and talent with them into yet another year of lacrosse in the Mustang uniform, and we are excited to see what transfer Gianna Branca (Camillus, N.Y.) can add following her stellar two-year career at Monroe Community College."
Branca, a graduate of West Genesee High School and Monroe Community College, brings solid experience to the Mustang field this season with three championship titles to her backing, a New York State Championship with West Genesee in 2014 and back-to-back NJCAA National Titles with Monroe in 2015 and 2016. Her ability in the attack game, VanAlstyne believes, will take Morrisville State to the next level this season.
Defensively, VanAlstyne will have the Mustangs playing a tempo that forces their opponent to move the ball quickly and not have the chance to settle into their desired pace of play.
Reigning NEAC Defensive Player of the Year, Jordan Anderson (West Edmeston, N.Y.) and junior Kallie George (Tully, N.Y.) return to the lineup once again in 2017, and will serve as the backbone of the defensive unit that has seen the most change entering the 2017 season.
Alexis Firkins (Brockport, N.Y.), Janet Hanehan (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) and Demi Mannise (Mexico, N.Y.) are all new faces for Morrisville State on the defensive end of the field, and bring tenacity that will be unmatched among their competitors this season.
"Lexi is a vocal, aggressive leader that is very good at knocking passes down on the defensive side of the ball. She most likely will split time on the offensive end of the field as well, having a knack to also finish within the attack," said VanAlstyne.
"Janet is a solid defender that will transition to the midfield for us this season, and because she's smart with the ball, will take our transition game to another level."
"Even though we have a solid core returning, the group as a whole has a very different dynamic than in previous years," VanAlstyne stated. "We weren't able to bring home the championship last year, so we made changes. We have more confidence, a greater work ethic, and carry a greater lacrosse IQ into this season than in years prior."
Morrisville State will rely on most of March's non-conference lineup to prepare for conference play, which is scheduled to open on the 31st.
After hitting the field for the first time in Memphis next Tuesday and Thursday (vs. Muskingum), Morrisville State will take to the road for play against Maritime on the 17th, and Potsdam on the 22nd, before opening their home schedule with a non-conference bout with SUNY Canton on the 25th.
A final non-conference matchup down the road at Utica College on the 28th will be the final test before the Mustangs meet Hilbert College at home on the 31st in the NEAC opener.
After a road conference tilt on the road at Medaille on April 1st, Morrisville State will host Keuka College and Wells College on the 8th and 9th, before meeting defending NEAC Champion, SUNY Poly, on the 15th.
They cross paths with rival Cazenovia College on the 19th before hitting the road for a double conference tilt with Bryn Athyn College (22nd) and Penn St. Abington (23rd).
Morrisville State will wrap up the regular season schedule with a non-conference outing at home against Hartwick College on the 26th before finalizing conference play as they go head-to-head with Lancaster Bible on the 28th in the home finale.
"We want to be back in the NEAC Tournament this spring, and know that it's going to take a lot of work," said VanAlstyne. "Our strength is our mental toughness and ability to share the same common vision and goal."
"This group is hungry for another opportunity; and their work ethic, attitude and ability is going to take us to the next level."
Morrisville State College's curricula are enriched with applied learning and pave the way for opportunity at both the Morrisville and Norwich campuses. An action-oriented, interactive learning lab, the college is a national leader in technology and has been lauded for its exemplary, innovative and effective community service programs.
The college was ranked among the Best Regional Colleges in the North by U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges 2016 issue and was also recognized in the Top Public Schools, Regional Colleges North in the 2016 Best Colleges rankings. For more information about Morrisville State College, visit www.morrisville.edu.