By Ronald Hanaki
ESU’s lacrosse team was picked ninth in a preseason PSAC lacrosse poll that was released back on February 12.
Defending PSAC champion Lock Haven received 12 of 13 first place votes to rank atop the preseason poll for the fourth time in five years. Lock Haven’s team features 2014 PSAC Athlete of the Year Jessica Pandolf.
Mercyhurst was in second place followed by IUP in third place. IUP was the only other team to receive a first place vote.
West Chester was ranked in fourth place. 2014 PSAC Freshman of the Year Dina Cifelli returns to lead the Golden Rams.
The Warriors (8-9, 3-9) finished last season tied for ninth place in the PSAC.
Eight of twelve starters from last year’s team will return for the Warriors including junior attacker and mathematics savant Kaitlynn Wiltraut.
Wiltraut became the belle of the ball last year scoring 47 goals and assisting on another 5.
With attacker Nicole Miller having graduated, Wiltraut’s scoring genius becomes even more important to the team’s success. Yet Wiltraut sounded modest when she said, “I just want to see what the season brings.”
She continued, “We’re hoping to beat five or six of the PSAC teams this year. The team is more experienced because half of us are juniors now. We also have good freshmen coming in.”
Wiltraut added that she was “hoping the girls on the team become better as a whole.” Junior attacker Lauren Nunes (30 goals, 14 assists) will pair with Wiltraut to provide additional scoring and veteran leadership.
Defensively, redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Jessica Maxwell made All-PSAC second team last year. However, Wiltraut said, “There is no backup goalkeeper this season.”
Of course, due to the amount of snow this area has received this winter, there are more mundane concerns. Wiltraut said, “It’s too cold to practice outside now. Our field is covered with snow. So we have been practicing in the gym.”
Undeterred, the hardy Warriors will open their season at home against Chestnut Hill on February 28.
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