DURHAM, N.H. -- Only 15 letterwinners return from the 2006 University of New Hampshire women's lacrosse team, but 10 were starters on a team that advanced to the America East championship game for the fifth consecutive year.
    The Wildcats, under the guidance of 11th-year UNH head coach Sandy Bridgeman, will once again be a young team in 2007 with seven freshmen and eight sophomores on the 22-player roster, but the upper-class corps of two seniors and five juniors look to lead UNH to a 10th consecutive America East Championship tournament appearance.
    In the America East Coaches’ Preseason Poll that was released Feb. 16, UNH was selected to finish first in the seven-team league.

    The Wildcats lose just two starters from last year's team, but those starters happen to be all-time leading scorer Katie Leland and Kristin Blanchette, who is ninth on the program's career scoring list.
    The cupboard isn't bare in 2007, however. Senior co-captain Alexa Webster, junior Moira Talbot and sophomore Sarah Von Bargen all finished with 30+ goals and 40+ points last season. And those three players ranked 1-2-3 (although not in that order) in shooting percentage among UNH's 2006 double-digit goal scorers. Furthermore, Talbot and Webster were two of the four 'Cats to record double digits in both goals and assists.
    Webster had a breakout junior year in which her season totals (33 goals, 11 assists, 44 points) exceeded the totals of her first two seasons as a Wildcat. She tied for the team lead in free-position goals (10) on just 13 free position shots and also ranked fourth in assists as well as fifth in both goals and points.
    Talbot was an America East All-Conference Second Team selection in 2006, when she was third on the team in both assists (13) and points (47) as well as fourth in goals (34). In addition, Talbot netted three game-winning goals and recorded the highest shooting percentage of .540.
    Von Bargen had a record-setting freshman season at UNH in 2006 and earned both All-Conference Second Team and All-Rookie Team honors. In addition to breaking the UNH rookie records for goals (42) and points (46), Von Bargen was one of five Wildcats to record double digits in ground balls, draw controls and caused turnovers; she tied for the team lead in draw controls and ranked third in caused turnovers. Her 42 goals ranked second.
    Another retuning letterwinner is Lauren DePont, who saw limited action in three games last year as a freshman. Missy Hamilton joins the attack as a rookie in ’07.

    One of the other top returning scorers is sophomore Ashley Durepo, who is one of five New Hampshire natives on the UNH roster. Among returning players, Durepo trailed only the aforementioned triumvirate in goals (19) and points (23). In addition to her offensive production, Durepo ranked third in ground balls, fourth in draw controls and tied for fourth in caused turnovers as she also recorded double figures in all three of those statistics.
    The junior trio of Ashley Crook, Bailley Mazur and Maureen Wark as well as sophomore Beth Sabiston complete the corps of returning midfielders. Both Sabiston and Crook reached double digits in ground balls (28/32), draw controls (18/17) and caused turnovers (12/12) while Mazur just missed the triple double with 37 ground balls, 17 draw controls and nine caused turnovers. Sabiston was the top scorer of this group with seven points, all on goals. Crook and Sabiston tied for fourth on the team in caused turnovers and also ranked among the leaders in both draw controls and ground balls. Wark, in her first season as a UNH Wildcat in ‘06, played in just one game.
    Sarah Andersen, Mikki Ekfelt, Shaunna Kaplan, Kellen Millard and Susie Piotrkowski bolster the unit as new additions. Kaplan also lettered on UNH’s women’s soccer team last fall with six starts in 13 matches.

    UNH's defensive unit is anchored by second-year captain Christine Carbone, who is a two-time America East All-Conference First Team honoree. Carbone led the team in both caused turnovers (25) and ground balls (54). She recorded 4+ ground balls seven times and multiple caused turnovers in eight games.
    The last line of defense will once again by junior goalkeeper Ashley Milley. She stepped into a starting role at the beginning of her sophomore year and started 17 of 18 games with a 10-7 record, 10.59 GAA and .459 save percentage. Milley recorded double digits in saves eight times last season, including 10 in the league title game vs. Boston University and a career-high 13 saves against Holy Cross, Towson and Albany.
    Lauren McMullen saw limited action in goal last year as a rookie and compiled a 12.03 GAA in four games. She and newcomer Natalie Jones will battle for playing time.
    The defensive unit features three other young but experienced players in sophomores Beth Stankus, Michaela Hardy and Kelli LaPerch.
    Stankus immediately stepped into a starting role and remained there for all 18 games in the '06 season. She recorded 19 caused turnovers to rank second on the team and was also among the team leaders in ground balls.
    Hardy played in 16 games and was in the starting lineup for half of them. LaPerch saw action in six games and started two.

    New Hampshire faces some familiar non-conference foes to open the 2007 season. The Wildcats travel to Holy Cross for a Feb. 27 season opener, and it will mark the third consecutive year the 'Cats play the Crusaders in the first game of the season. UNH then travels across the state to face intrastate rival Dartmouth College on March 3 and plays host to another familiar foe, Yale University in the March 7 home opener at Memorial Field.
    UNH plays three more non-conference games, including Towson and UMass at home, before opening the 2007 America East portion of its schedule March 24 at UMBC. The Wildcats then close the month with home games versus Hofstra on the 28th and league foe Vermont on the 31st. The three-game homestand ends April 4 against Vanderbilt.
    The 'Cats return to league action April 7 at Albany and home vs. Stony Brook on the 11th. A road trip to regional rival UConn is next for New Hampshire, which then continues the America East slate home against Boston University on April 21. The regular season ends in April with road games against Harvard and Binghamton.
    The top seeded-team of the America East Championship will be the host of the tournament, which will be held May 4-6. UNH has advanced to the tourney nine consecutive years, which is the longest active streak in the league.
View: Mobile | Desktop