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2005 Season Preview
  • Posted on February 23, 2005 12:00:00 AM
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  • With 13 letterwinners returning from a 2004 team that won seven games, including an upset victory over third-ranked Notre Dame, the future success of the Rutgers women’s lacrosse team is firmly in the hands of the young, but experienced, roster.

    Head coach Laura Brand enters her third season "On the Banks" with an abundance of young talent. Midfielder Katie Batiuk returns after earning All-BIG EAST and IWLCA Regional All-America honors in her inaugural season with the Scarlet Knights in 2004. Batiuk led the team in seven offensive categories, including points (47), goals (32), assists (15), free-position goals (11), draw controls (28), shots (82) and shots on goal (50). She finished eighth in the BIG EAST in scoring and ninth in draw controls.

    Goalie Lyndsey Feldman headlines a seven-member senior squad that will provide leadership to the young program. Supporting her in the defensive third is two-year captain Catherine Seals. The senior will join classmate Andrea Leininger in an experienced defensive third that will look to clamp down opposing attackers.

    The Scarlet Knights welcome nine newcomers to the program in 2005, including two attackers, five midfielders a defender and a goalie. Brand also welcomes back a familiar face, adding former RU standout Kristin Checksfield to the coaching staff. Checksfield, a 2003 graduate, was a three-time All-BIG EAST selection, earning league Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2002.

    The 2005 season marks the earliest in school history the Scarlet Knights will open their campaign. It marks just the second time in program history RU will play a game in the month of February and the second consecutive year. Last season, RU hosted Northwestern on Feb. 28. Rutgers will face a challenging 16-game schedule that includes three NCAA Tournament participants from a year ago, including NCAA semifinalist Georgetown.

    “This season will be full of welcomed challenges,” said Brand. “Not only will we continue to be tested by the outstanding competition in the Big East, but our out-of-conference schedule has improved a great deal. We will continue to challenge this program so we can continue to take steps forward.”

    ATTACK

    Rutgers lost a major portion of its scoring punch from last season with the graduation of three of the program’s top four scorers. The new-look attack will feature a number of new faces, but veterans Lisa Savage and Lindsay Rising will continue to serve as a force in the attacking third. Savage scored 10 goals, adding seven assists last season, playing in 14 of RU’s 15 games. Rising started all but one game last season, scoring 13 goals and adding two assists,

    Newcomers Rachel Bruce and Courtney Wernick will be looked upon to step in right away and play an active role for the Scarlet Knights in 2005. Both come to Rutgers with outstanding scholastic credentials and a knack for getting to the goal.

    MIDFIELD

    Rutgers welcomes back a plethora of talent in the midfield, including last season’s leading goal scorer in Batiuk. As a freshman last season, she scored 32 goals, adding 14 assists to lead the team in virtually every offensive category. Batiuk, an All-BIG EAST performer in 2004, will look to improve on her eye-popping numbers with the assistance of her supporting cast. Fellow sophomores Anne Marchitello, Jamie Farewell and Sarah Soden had tremendous rookie seasons in 2004 and will continue to play a major role in the Scarlet Knights’ midfield this season. Marchitello started 12 games last season, scoring eight goals and adding five assists. Farewell, who started all 15 games, used her speed to beat competitors to the ball in recording a team-best 36 ground balls. Soden appeared in 10 games last season, scoring one free-position goal.

    Juniors Emily Widrick and Kathleen Holley will also play integral roles in the midfield for the Scarlet Knights. Widrick recorded 12 goals and one assist in 2004, starting all 14 games she appeared in. Holley played in 10 games for RU, scoring two goals. Senior Genevieve Grossman, the recipient of the Coach’s Award last season, will vie for an increased role in Rutgers’ midfield.

    Newcomers Kate Shomo, Valerie Depelteau, Shirah Hamor, Jessica Fox and Amanda Hobson will each look to follow the example of last season’s freshman class and make sizable contributions to the Scarlet Knights’ success.

    DEFENSE

    RU returns a wealth of experience in seniors Catherine Seals, Andrea Leininger and Ashley Schauder. Each played significant time last season, stifling opposing attackers, while providing a stiff wall for goalie Lyndsey Feldman. Seals, who took home All-BIG EAST postseason honors for the second time last year, ravaged opponents, causing a team-high 23 turnovers, while recording 30 ground balls. Leininger, a 14-game starter last season, is a stalwart in the defensive third with 19 ground balls and 11 caused turnovers a year ago. Schauder, who started six games in 2004, recorded 11 ground balls, four draw controls and four caused turnovers in 14 games.

    The lone new face in the defensive third is Sarah Williams. She received defensive MVP honors throughout her scholastic career, playing in the talent-rich state of Maryland.

    GOALIE

    Senior two-time All-BIG EAST goalie Lyndsey Feldman returns to her familiar spot between the posts in 2005. Feldman was near the top in the nation with a 57.7 save percentage and an 8.52 goals-against average. She will be pushed by newcomer Taylor Radigan, who owned a 6.47 goals-against average with a 56.5 save percentage last season for her high school.

    SCHEDULE

    A challenging 16-game schedule awaits the Scarlet Knights in 2005 season. RU will play a total of nine home contests in 2005, highlighted by a three-game homestand from March 23 through March 28. Rutgers will face three NCAA Tournament participants from a year ago, including NCAA semifinalist Georgetown.

    Rutgers will begin the 2005 season with a pair of home contests, beginning with a Feb. 26 game against Hoftsra. Delaware (3/5) comes to Piscataway to open the month of March for the Scarlet Knights.

    Rutgers will play five of its seven games in March at home. UPenn (3/8) is the lone traditional road contest of the month. RU hosts Boston College (3/11) before a match with Yale (3/15) in Orlando, FL, as part of the team’s annual spring break trip to Walt Disney World.

    The team will return home, where it will round out its March schedule with three consecutive home games against Bucknell (3/23), BIG EAST Champion Georgetown (3/26) and Old Dominion (3/28).

    The Scarlet Knights will open the month of April on the road with a challenging weekend against a pair of 2004 NCAA Tournament teams in Northwestern (4/1) and Notre Dame (4/3). The Wildcats finished eighth in the final IWLCA national poll after reaching the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament, while the Irish ended last season ranked ninth nationally. Rutgers defeated Notre Dame, 7-6, at home last season, while falling to Northwestern, 14-13, in the final minute of regulation in last year’s season opener.

    RU returns home to face Villanova (4/6) for its third game in six days, before a Sunday afternoon contest with BIG EAST foe Connecticut (4/10).

    Following an 11-day span without a game, Rutgers will travel to Syracuse (4/22) for a Friday afternoon contest with the Orange. The Scarlet Knights will close out the weekend with a home match against Ohio State (4/24).

    Rutgers will wrap up regular-season competition with a pair of road contests at Saint Joseph’s (4/26) and Cornell (5/1).

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