Women’s lacrosse season preview

Andrew Wuebker, Sports Editor

Time to break out the sticks.

As the Roger Williams University women’s lacrosse team preps for their season opener against Worcester State University on Tuesday afternoon, the team sports a slightly different look.

Rewind to the spring of 2017, RWU came up just short in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Tournament last May, suffering a 14-3 beatdown from Endicott College in the title game after finishing second in the conference with a 13-4 record.

One offseason later after the loss — the team has undergone change.

Head Coach Lisa Vogeley left for the head-coaching job at Connecticut College last summer. Vogeley turned the lacrosse program into a conference powerhouse, going 27-5 in conference play in her four years as the Hawks’ head coach and winning one CCC championship in 2016 out of four appearances.

Jennifer Fox, an assistant coach with Endicott last season and many years of coaching experience throughout all levels of the N.C.A.A., filled in the head-coaching vacancy.

On the field, All-CCC First Team attacker McKenna Everding (53 goals) and All-CCC Second Team goalie Kimberly Bolk (.475 save percentage) graduated.

Add in the obstacle of integrating 12 new faces and the challenges are there for RWU. While these changes may not be overwhelming in quantity, they are certainly quality challenges for a team that’s looking to get back to the top of the conference once again.

RWU was picked to finish second in the CCC Preseason Poll for 2018, behind Endicott.

The Hawks will be led by 2017 CCC Offensive Player of the Year Kaelin Hogan, now a senior, who tallied a team-high 55 goals and 40 assists last season. Junior Emily Stoeppel will also be a huge part of their offense. She contributed 48 goals last year which was third on the team.

In goal, Bolk will likely be succeeded by sophomore Lydia Nelson, who was a four-year member of the lacrosse team at Center Moriches High School in Center Moriches, New York before coming to RWU.

Along with Hogan, seniors Paige Byrne, Carly Martin and Nicole Palumbo will take on leadership roles as captains this season.

Fast forward back to the present and the challenges are there for RWU.

How the team responds to Fox’s coaching, replacing production from Everding and the play out of goalie will determine a lot about how this team fares as the season wears on.

As a result of the CCC scheduling format, some of the team’s critical matchups against fellow conference powerhouse teams are at home this year rather than on the road, including Endicott, University of New England, Salve Regina University and Western New England University.

This season certainly has the makings of a interesting one for the Hawks and should be competitive every step of the way.

Time to break out the sticks.