Feb. 1, 2018
Pioneer Movement | Denver Ticket Office | Media Guide
DENVER-- Last season, the Denver women's lacrosse team competed in the BIG EAST Conference for the first time, and will once again aim to replicate its success after reaching the championship game.
The Pioneers recently received a vote of confidence by the coaches in the BIG EAST, picked to finish second in the BIG EAST Coaches' Preseason Poll.
In head coach Liza Kelly's 11th season at the helm of the program, the Pioneers compiled a 14-4 record, with a 7-2 mark in conference play, while going 8-0 at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium and achieving some of the best stats in the conference and the nation.
Offensively, the Pioneers ranked 28th in the nation in scoring offense, and second in the BIG EAST, after averaging 13.28 goals per game (239 goals total). In 14 contests, the offense reached double digits in goals, and were on the winning end in all but one of those instances. Nine times, DU scored 15 or more goals, and were a perfect 9-0 in such contests. Twice last season the Pioneers won by a margin of 17 goals, including a 17-0 shutout against BIG EAST competitor Cincinnati on April 28.
A large component to the offensive efficiency was due to Ellie Knott, who, in her final season as a Pioneer, set a school record in draw controls in a single-season with 93, averaging 5.17 per contest last year. In the April 5, 20-3 win against Butler last season, Knott had a career-high 11 draw controls, which tied for the third-most in program history in a single game. She also registered nine draw controls in four separate games last season.
The Pioneers return seven of last year's top eight point scorers, led by junior attackers Julia Feiss (Baltimore, Md.), Elizabeth Behrins (Basking Ridge, N.J.) and Kendra Lanuza (Littleton, Colo.), who had 50, 43 and 33 goals, respectively. Feiss also had a team-high 112 shots, five game-winning goals and 12 free-position goals on the year. Feiss' five game-winning goals led the BIG EAST, her free-position goals total placed her second and her 6.22 shots per game and 2.78 goals per game were both third amongst all conference players. Lanuza led the team in assists in 2017 with 37, which was the second-most in the BIG EAST, with Feiss tallying the second-highest amount on the team with 14. Lanuza and Feiss were both selected on the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team.
While some things stay the same, one area that has changed from a year ago is the person guiding the offense. Tee Ladouceur was brought on to the staff over the summer, and will oversee the offensive play calling.
In an interview with Ladouceur shortly after she started, she stated that she saw herself as "a creative coach", who was willing to learn, try new things and test boundaries. For her, it is about finding the balance between being disciplined and having fun on the field, while making sure that they take advantage of opportunities to score. What the offense will look like in 2018 remains to be seen, but Ladouceur will have the players and the tools to consistently put the ball in the back of the net.
Defensively, the Crimson and Gold were even more exceptional, giving up only 8.44 goals per game, which placed them fourth in the country in the category. They led the BIG EAST in goals against average after allowing only 152 goals on the season. Denver was second in the conference in caused turnovers per game at 11.61, but produced the most caused turnovers out of all teams with 209. In just league contests, Denver led the conference in caused turnovers with 113 total (12.56 per game), and was the only team to record a shutout.
Part of that was due to the tough defense of departed players Layne Voorhees, Hunter Gray and Sybil Pallace, as well as the play of goalkeeper Maddy Stevenson. Voorhees led the team and the conference in caused turnovers with 42, a 2.33/ game average. She tied the school record for the most caused turnovers in a game with eight against Cincinnati. Pallace and Gray trailed her in the category with a respective 25 and 20 turnovers. Gray led the Pioneers in ground balls on the season with 43 and Voorhees was one behind her at 42.
Stevenson graduated with the best career goals against average rate in school history at 8.28, while protecting the goal for 2216:36 in 47 games. In her four years, she achieved the highest and fourth-highest individual season goals against average rate of 7.77 (2016) and 8.65 (2017), respectively.
The Pioneers will look to veteran juniors Kennedy Milburn (Whitby, Ontario), Nicki Wilkinson (Groton, Mass.), Caroline Lewis (Baltimore, Md.), and Kate Knott (Lutherville, Md.) to continue the lockdown defense that DU achieved in 2017. Milburn was fourth on the team in caused turnovers with 19. Rounding out the defense corp are sophomores Eliza Hacke (Devon, Pa.) and Hannah Ross (Cranford, N.J.), who both saw limited action a year ago, but will have plenty of chances to contribute in 2018.
Denver has experience and depth at almost each position, with 13 midfielders, eight attackers and six defenders. However, one unknown will be at the goalkeeper position with DU only having two position players on the roster in freshman Amelia Cole (Alexandria, Va.) and sophomore Carson Gregg (Severna Park, Md.).
Gregg saw time in the net last season, recording 90:18 of action and registering seven saves while allowing 10 goals for a save percentage of .412 and a goals allowed average of 6.64.
Assistant Coach Hannah Hook enters her third season on the sidelines, after a prolific career at DU, and will look to impart her expertise and wisdom on the youthful goalkeeping group.
The success of the season will also come down to how quickly the younger players can get acclimated to collegiate lacrosse and how much the sophomore players have learned from last season to this season, as the roster features 16 underclassmen (nine freshman and seven sophomores) and 14 upperclassmen (10 juniors/ redshirt juniors and four seniors).
Working in the Pioneers' favor is the stability of those players who played extensively last year. Seven players appeared in all 18 games last season (Audrey Schreck, captains Katherine Fischer and Caitlin Derry, Riley Eggeman, Lanuza, Feiss and Behrins), with Behrins starting in all 18. Wilkinson and Milburn started in all 17 games that they played in and Lanuza started 17 of 18 games.
DU has nine home games on the schedule this season, starting with a matchup against Stanford the opening weekend on Feb. 10 at 1 p.m.
The Pioneers received votes in the 2018 IWLCA Division I Preseason Poll, and will face four teams on their schedule that were ranked in the initial poll, three of which will be at home. Stanford enters the season ranked No. 23, Stony Brook ranked second, BIG EAST opponent Florida ranked fifth and Colorado starts at No. 17. From the Inside Lacrosse Cascade Women's Division I Media Poll, the Crimson and Gold will face six opponents who were either ranked or receiving votes in the preseason poll. Denver joins Stanford, Louisville and Virginia Tech as schools receiving votes, and Stony Brook starts the season ranked second, Florida starts ranked fifth and Colorado starts ranked 16.
Fans interested in making a donation to the women's lacrosse program can do so by CLICKING HERE. Your contribution will make a direct impact on the success of YOUR Pioneers. Thank you in advance for your unwavering support of our student-athletes and their quest for excellence.
Student-Athlete Alumni Giving Challenge:
In 2017-18, the University of Denver is holding an alumni giving challenge in an effort to increase student-athlete alumni participation in the Denver Athletics Annual Fund. The sport program with the highest percentage of alumni participation will receive an additional $10,000 of support through the generosity of an anonymous donor. Former student-athletes can make a gift online, by calling 303-871-2388 during normal business hours or by sending a check to:
Athletics Development Office
Attn: Kaley Rickert
2201 E. Asbury Avenue
Denver, CO 80208
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