2018 women's lacrosse season preview

Photo by Josh McKee
Photo by Josh McKee

Seven starters return this year for the nationally ranked No. 13 Hamilton College Continentals as they open the 2018 season at No. 19 Tufts on Saturday, March 3 at noon.

Hamilton aims to return to the NCAA Division III championship after the Continentals made their ninth appearance with an at-large bid and hosted the first and second rounds in 2017. The Jumbos ended up 10-6 overall last year and tied for sixth in the NESCAC standings at 5-5. Tufts lost to Trinity in the quarterfinals of the conference championship. Hamilton defeated the Jumbos 10-6 in Clinton, N.Y., last year.

The Continentals posted a 12-6 record and tied for first place in the NESCAC standings at 8-2. Hamilton's eight conference wins and No. 2 seed in the NESCAC championship were the Continentals' best results in their six years in the conference. Hamilton hosted a NESCAC quarterfinal and advanced to the semifinals with a 12-9 win against Bowdoin.

The women started the season 1-3 but put together win streaks of five and six games, and they found themselves ranked eighth in the Top 20 coaches poll at the end of the regular season. Hamilton, which ended its year ranked 14th in the coaches poll, won six games against ranked teams.

The Continentals have a big hole in their lineup to fill as three-time all-American midfielder Morgan Fletcher '17 has graduated. Fletcher finished her career with 96 goals, 35 assists, 101 ground balls and 77 caused turnovers.

Midfielders Darby Philbrick '18 and Kara Pooley '19 are ready to pick up the slack. Both players made the all-region first team and the all-NESCAC second team after outstanding seasons. Philbrick led the team with 30 goals and 37 draw controls and added 25 ground balls. Pooley did a little bit of everything last year with 23 goals, 13 assists, 28 draw controls, 25 caused turnovers and 23 ground balls. Jackie Cuddy '18 (18 goals), Hannah Lease '18 and Charlotte Wynn '20 provide more depth at the position. Lease and Philbrick are the team's captains.

Alex Hendry '19 (nine goals, six assists), Skyler Simson '20 (seven goals) and Tatiana Bradley '19 (six goals) are the top returners at attack. Simson scored three goals in last year's NCAA second round game against Salisbury University.

Maddie Fitzpatrick '18 is the leader of the defensive corps. Fitzpatrick earned all-region second team honors last year after she caused 22 turnovers and scooped up 29 ground balls. Gabby O'Brien '19 and Emma Knoll '20 were part-time starters on defense in 2017.

All-region goalie Hannah Burrall '19 started all but one game and played 750 minutes last year. Burrall ended up fourth in the NESCAC with a .486 save percentage and fifth with a 7.60 goals against average. She has a 15-7 career record in 28 starts at Hamilton.

Nine newcomers dot the Continentals' roster. Hamilton plays seven games at Steuben Field including five conference contests. The Continentals host Colby (March 10), Amherst (March 24), Trinity (April 7), Williams (April 10) and Connecticut College (April 14). Ithaca College comes to Clinton for Hamilton's regular season finale on April 25. The NESCAC is always one of the best women's lacrosse conferences in Division III and this year is no exception as seven teams are ranked in the latest coaches poll.