Women's Lacrosse Opens 2011 Season On The Road Against Fairfield This Friday At 3 PM

Friday, February 25, 2011 - 3 p.m.
Quinnipiac University Bobcats (0-0, 0-0 NEC) vs.
Fairfield University Stags (1-0, 0-0 MAAC)
Lessing Field - Fairfield, Conn.

Season Opener
The Quinnipiac women's lacrosse team prepares for its season-opener later this week in a non-conference road matchup against Fairfield (1-0, 0-0 MAAC) on Friday, Feb. 25 at 3 p.m. The Bobcats are coming off their most successful season in program history in the Northeast Conference, earning a program-best 8-1 record in 2010 conference play. Quinnipiac performed well on both sides of the ball in 2010, which contributed to its second-place finish in the NEC. The Bobcats led the NEC offensively, finishing first in goals per game (12.82), assists per game (6.82) and points per game (19.65).

Live Stats
Live Stats for Friday's game can be accessed by clicking on the appropriate links on the women's lacrosse schedule at quinnipiacbobcats.com.

About Fairfield University
Fairfield is coming of an 11-6 win over Monmouth in its season-opener on Saturday, Feb. 19. The Stags were led by sophomore midfielder Chloe Mangan, who collected five goals and one assist on the afternoon. Sophomore goalkeeper Katie Keenan made five saves in goal for Fairfield, which has now won its season-opener for the third straight season. The Stags finished their 2010 season with a perfect 6-0 record in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and a 13-5 overall mark, en route to its third consecutive MAAC regular season conference title. While Fairfield returns much of the same squad from a season ago, a key player, senior midfielder Kristen Coleman (all-time program-leader in goals, 186, and assists, 71) will be unable to help the Stags for the entire season due to an off-season injury.

Filling the void will be sophomore midfielder and reigning MAAC Rookie of the Year Chloe Mangan (26 goals, nine assists). Other offensive leaders for Fairfield include senior attacker Katie MacKay (35 goals, five assists), senior midfielder Brittany Bare (22 goals, three assists) and sophomore attacker Amanda Best (17 goals, eight assists). Returning in net for Fairfield is sophomore goalkeeper Katie Keenan, who finished with a league-best 9.71 goals against average. She stopped 136 of 296 shots for a .459 save percentage in 2010, good for 34th among all NCAA Division I Women's Lacrosse goaltenders.

All-Time Against The Stags
Friday's game will be the second overall meeting between the two programs, with the first-ever meeting coming on Thursday, Mar. 11, 2010. Fairfield took the victory on that day, defeating Quinnipiac 14-12. The Bobcats were led by sophomore midfielder Devon Gibney (Hopkinton, Mass.), who matched her career high with six points (four goals, two assists) on the afternoon. Sophomore midfielder Marissa Caroleo (North Babylon, N.Y.) added two goals for Quinnipiac, which saw its record fall to 0-3 on the young season. Sophomore goalkeeper Noelle Martello (Westbury, N.Y.) started in net for the Bobcats and made a game-high 11 saves overall.

Leadership In The Cage
Quinnipiac's last line of defense rests in the hands of senior goalkeeper Lexi DeStefano (Brookfield, Conn.) and junior Noelle Martello (Westbury, N.Y.). Last season, DeStefano saw action in 14 games and made nine starts. The captain posted a 7-2 record on the year and finished the season ranked second in the NEC in both save percentage (.500) and goals-against average (8.30).

"We were very proud of our goals-against average last season, second lowest in the conference, because it was indicative of exceptional team defense," said DeStefano. "This year, our defense is anchored by several veterans that have done a great job leading and educating the freshman about our team defense concept, as we hope to continue our strong defensive tradition."

In 2010 Martello played in 11 games, making seven starts overall. The junior compiled a 10.88 goals against average and a .447 save percentage, en route to a 2-5 record on the year.

"Senior Lexi DeStefano and junior Noelle Martello return in net for us this year, and they're both very solid," said coach Caro. "They have very different styles of play and they give us some different options in the cage. As a coach, I like the idea that I can put either one of them on the field and not have a drop off in the quality of play."

Kelly's Crew
Once again, one of Quinnipiac's main strengths heading into 2011 resides on the defensive side of the ball. Senior captain Kaitlyn Kelly (North Massapequa, N.Y.) returns for her final season with the Bobcats as the anchor to one of the NEC's perennial top defensive units. Kelly, the reigning 2010 NEC Women's Lacrosse Defensive Player of the Year, started in all 17 games for the Bobcats and led the team with 41 ground balls, while the Bobcats finished third in the league overall (20.76 ground balls per game). A two-time 2010 NEC Defensive Player of the Week recipient, Kelly also led the squad with 44 draw controls and 25 caused turnovers on the year.

"The defense, along with the members of the midfield, has really come together during the fall and preseason," said Kelly. "With that unity and experience from last year, I truly believe that we can improve upon having (last season's) second lowest goals against average in the NEC."

While Quinnipiac finished in second behind Sacred Heart with a 9.47 goals against average, the Bobcats allowed the fewest overall goals in the NEC (161). Kelly will look towards fellow seniors Kelley McDonough (Mahopac, N.Y.) and Stephanie Tuorto (Kings Park, N.Y.), as well as junior Kim Davis (Darien, Conn.) and sophomore Kiera Carey (Long Beach, N.Y.) to increase their roles on the defensive front.

"Our low defenders and goalkeepers are a pretty experienced group," said head coach Danie Caro. "Seniors Kelley McDonough and Stephanie Tuorto, junior Kim Davis, and sophomore Kiera Carey all return from last year's squad and freshmen Kelsey Maroney and Ari Anderson may earn some playing time."

McDonough played in seven games last season, making three starts, while Tuorto played in 11 games, collecting 12 ground balls on the season. Davis played in 11 games and made nine starts last season, while Carey saw action in five games.

Dangerous Midfield
Quinnipiac boasts two 2010 All-NEC First Team recipients at its midfield position in senior captain Lauren Matuszczak (East Longmeadow, Mass.) and junior Devon Gibney (Hopkinton, Mass.). Matuszczak finished second on the team in 2010 with 37 draw controls, while Gibney finished a close third with 35. The duo also finished third and fourth on the team in both caused turnovers (Gibney 19, Matuszczak 16) and ground balls (Matuszczak 36, Gibney 24). Both were a threat offensively as well, finishing second and third on team in total points and combined for 68 goals and 26 assists overall during the 2010 season.

"I am very excited for this season to start," said Matuszczak. "We have a solid group of midfielders and a lot of skill on attack. We hope to improve on our league-best (12.82) goals per game statistic from last year, and if things click with our midfield and attack, I think we'll have a good chance at accomplishing this feat."

The Bobcats possess not one, but two additional offensively minded midfielders, including 2009 Northeast Conference Rookie of the Year, and 2010 Second Team All-Conference, recipient Marissa Caroleo (North Babylon, N.Y.) and 2010 All-Rookie Team recipient Chelsea Guerrera (Wantagh, N.Y.). Despite playing in only nine games last season, Caroleo finished fourth on the team with 40 points (25 goals, four assists), ranking her third in the NEC in goals per game (2.78) and eighth overall in points per game (3.22). Guerrera finished sixth on the team in overall points (25) and goals (15).

"Our returning midfield unit (Marissa Caroleo, Devon Gibney, Chelsea Guerrera, Kaitlyn Kelly, and Lauren Matuszczak) is one of the strongest in the conference," said Caro. "Every single one of them has earned NEC post-season recognition, so I expect great things from them."

Caro added:
"We have some freshmen who should earn playing time in the midfield (Phoebe Laplante, Emily Samuelman, and Kearney Sneath) this season as well, and we hope they can continue our recent history of having a deep midfield unit."

Firepower Up Front
While Quinnipiac's attacking unit lost its most dynamic scorer in Katie Latonick (Severna Park, Md.), the team looks to replace her numbers (26 goals, 44 assists) with a variety of players. Quinnipiac's attacking core returns two seniors in Laura Iannotti (Rocky Point, N.Y.) and Christine Sinnigen (Sudbury, Mass.), who combined for a total of 32 goals and seven assists. With 18 goals in 2010, Sinnigen finished second on the team amongst attackers, while her seven assists increased her overall points total to 27, fifth most on the team. Iannotti added 14 goals, while collecting 15 ground balls on the season.

"We have a solid group of veteran attackers returning this year that all logged significant minutes last spring," said Caro. "Seniors Christine Sinnigen and Laura Iannotti, and sophomores Lianne Toomey and 2010 All-Rookie Team recipient Sarah Allen all started games for us in 2010, and we expect them to contribute this season."

Senior Jennifer Skipper (Centerport, N.Y.) returns after missing all of 2010 with a knee injury, and looks to improve on her career numbers (16 goals, four assists).

"We expect Jenn Skipper to return to the lineup after missing last year with a knee injury. She's been playing well in practice and she has the potential to be a strong presence in the offensive end for us."

The Bobcats also add five freshman attackers this season, the most among all three positions on the team.

"We have a several freshman joining the attack unit (Meredith Donaldson, Kayla Fu, Allie Hoffler, Michaela Tinsley, and Melissa Warheit) and expect to see Tinsley compete for a starting position this season," said Caro.

First-Half Of The Season
Following Friday's game against Fairfield, Quinnipiac hosts Connecticut in its season-opener on Sunday, Feb. 27 at 12 p.m. Quinnipiac then prepares for its first of five games in the month of March, beginning with a home meeting against Brown on Tuesday, Mar. 8 at 2:30 p.m.

The team then heads back out on the road for two games, first facing Vermont on Saturday, Mar. 13 at 12 p.m., followed by its first NEC contest of the season on Sunday, March 20 at 1 p.m. against Central Connecticut. Quinnipiac returns home for four consecutive home games, its longest stretch of the season, beginning with Saint Francis (Pa.) on Friday, Mar. 23 at 3 p.m.

The Bobcats host Robert Morris at 12 p.m. the following Sunday, Mar., 25. Quinnipiac plays Sacred Heart on Friday, Apr. 1 at 3 p.m. before it hosts non-conference opponent Denver on Sunday, Apr. 3 at 11 a.m.