After a disappointing finish to the 2022 season, the Marist women’s lacrosse team is seeking redemption.
The Red Foxes finished with an overall record of 3-13 and a conference record of 1-7, finishing dead last in the MAAC with their only conference win coming in the final game of the regular season against Iona, in which the Red Foxes won 15-12.
This year, head coach Jessica Wilkinson and her Red Foxes open up their season at Tenney Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 1 p.m. against Bucknell.
Marist’s non-conference schedule is strong and will be a true test to this young Red Fox squad. After the season-opener against the Bison, they face Army, Merrimack, Hofstra, Temple, and Binghamton before they head down to the Carolinas where they will face Campbell University and Coastal Carolina in mid-March before their MAAC schedule takes fold.
Wilkinson, entering her 13th season as the team’s head coach, has posted an overall record of 78-80 including a 40-26 MAAC record. She has led the Red Foxes to two wins in their first two MAAC Championship first-round games and has led her squad to an appearance in the MAAC Championship semifinals for the last seven years.
Wilkinson arguably had her best season in 2014, when the Red Foxes won the MAAC regular season championship where they went 14-4 overall. Named MAAC Coach of the Year in 2013, 2014, and 2018, Wilkinson will look to reposition this group in a turnaround season.
Not leading this team alone, Wilkinson will be accompanied by assistant coaches Shannon Mackesey, who was a former student-athlete at the University of Albany and was previously an assistant coach on the St. Bonaventure University women’s lacrosse team, along with the newest addition to the staff, Maddie Dachowski, who played at La Salle University from 2017 to 2021.
In the MAAC’s preseason rankings, reigning MAAC Champions, Fairfield, took the number one spot followed by newcomer Mount St. Mary’s and Siena tied for second. Niagara and Canisius followed in at four and five while Marist was ranked eighth, two spots lower than where they were ranked last year.
While these MAAC rankings are discouraging, a bright spot for the Red Foxes to take away from these preseason polls is senior captain and star attacker, Kerri Gutenberger, being named to the Preseason All-MAAC team, the only Red Fox to be named to the roster.
During her junior season, Gutenberger led the Red Foxes in goals, points, and draw controls. She totaled 37 goals, 53 points, and 63 draw controls in her shutout junior year and was named to the All-MAAC Second Team during the 2022 season.
While Gutenberger will be a focal point to Marist’s offense this season, she will not be working alone as senior attacker Kelly Trotta and junior midfielder Delaney Hayes will be key components adding to the trio of captains chosen to lead this Red Fox team.
Trotta started in all sixteen games for Marist last year and was the second-leading scorer on the team cashing in 32 goals and knocking on ten assists. She also caused eight turnovers and had 18 ground balls. Hayes started in 15 of the 16 games last year for the Red Foxes and scored 11 goals and assisted on four of them. She also tallied eight caused turnovers and had 14 ground balls and 15 draw controls.
In addition to the three captains leading the pack, look for senior attacker Olivia Arnsten, senior midfielder Shea Thomson, and junior attacker Maddie Schrader to add to the offensive front of the Red Foxes.
Arntsen started in 14 of 16 games for the Red Foxes, scoring 18 goals and leading the team in assists with 20. Thomson appeared in 15 games off of the bench and scored three goals and tallied two assists while Schrader appeared in 12 games off the bench and scored five goals last season.
Junior attacker Cameron Maruca, sophomore midfielder and draw control specialist Juliana Santel, and sophomore midfielder Chloe Birckhead all made the most of their field time last year will also look to get a bigger role in Marist’s game plan this year.
On the defensive end, junior goalkeeper Miranda Lopes will look to get the start following the departure of Gabby Orlando. Lopes started in just one game last year and recorded one save. In high school, however, Lopes held the highest save percentage in New York State Section I during her freshman year at Lakeland High School and had an average save percentage of 52 percent over her four years. She will look to be the voice of the defense this year for the Red Foxes in the back of the net.
It is evident the Red Foxes have some big shoes to fill on the defensive end of the field with the losses of former captain and graduating senior, Sheridan DeVito; defender Camryn Stoner, who for her senior season elected to transfer to the University of Colorado-Boulder; and defender Bella D’Gracia who transferred to Clemson University for her junior year.
DeVito who started in all 16 games tallied 15 turnovers and had 15 ground balls, while Stoner led the team with 30 ground balls and caused 10 turnovers, and added 15 draw controls. D’Gracia in only her sophomore year started in all 16 games and caused 16 turnovers and 23 ground balls.
Looking to fill these shoes will be sophomore defender Sophia Georgopoulos who as a freshman, started in all 15 games she played and caused seven turnovers, and had 19 ground balls. In addition to Georgopoulos, sophomore defender Juliana Palumbo will be a leading factor for the Red Foxes on defense. Palumbo started in all 16 games and caused seven turnovers and had 14 ground balls. Look for senior defenders Jenna Bergin and Ashley Potter to add to the defensive front as well.
With a young defensive core, Wilkinson and the Red Foxes will be tested early in their non-conference matchups against Bucknell and Army. However, after a disappointing season for the Red Foxes, there seems to be a lot of room for improvement for this young and talented team.
Marist will hope a bounce-back season is on the horizon for the Red Foxes, and the road to the MAAC Championship begins Saturday, as the Red Foxes face off against Bucknell at 1 p.m. at Tenney Stadium.
Edited by Andrew Hard and Jonathan Kinane
Photo from Marist Athletics