Lexington, Ky. – Coming off a successful 2017 campaign, the Transylvania University women's lacrosse team enters the 2018 season looking to take the next step in the evolution of the program.
Transylvania head coach Lauren Bickford harbors lofty aspirations for this group of Pioneers. "Our goal is to win the Ohio River Women's Lacrosse Conference Tournament and compete in the NCAA tournament," states Bickford. "We are looking to continue climbing to an elite level and be regionally recognized for our success as a program."
Last season, the Pioneers were an offensive force to be reckoned with, averaging 16.5 goals per game while only giving up 7.88 goals per game.
This year, Transylvania's offense is sure to be just as potent with all eight offensive starters returning and a slew of newcomers in the fold. "Our experienced returners have welcomed the new class as teammates and trust them on the field, showing early signs of strong chemistry," adds Bickford. "We're excited to watch it continue to grow this season."
Transylvania returns a solid group of players at the attack position that will be a potent force up top. Senior Julia Ward and junior Alexis Rubin give Transylvania a pair of experienced players who are able to finish around the goal. A three-time reigning All-ORLC First Team selection, Ward finished last year with 92 points on 62 goals and 30 assists. Ward put 87 percent of her shots on target and gives the Pioneers a go-to scorer in the attacking third. Rubin tallied 42 points on 37 goals and five assists as a sophomore and was named to the All-ORLC Third Team for her freshman-to-sophomore season leap.
Junior Lindsey Jenkins and senior Kate Winkelmeyer are another pair of talented returners that will see time in the attack rotation. Jenkins finished last year with 21 points on 18 goals and three assists while Winkelmeyer had 18 points on nine goals and nine assists. Winkelmeyer also posted a staggering 94.4 shots-on-goal percentage.
"We have several threats at attack," remarks Bickford. "We learned to work together on the offensive end in the 2017 season and the attack will be even stronger this year. We're a well-rounded team and will utilize the 'hot' attackers when they're on."
The midfield will be another area of the field which returns plenty of experience and talent for the Pioneers as they welcome back the group of junior Emma Oliver, sophomore Brianna McCulley, and sophomore Katie Smith. Oliver totaled 92 points on 55 goals and 19 assists in 2017. Oliver's versatility also turned in 68 groundballs, 65 draw controls, and 29 caused turnovers. For her efforts on the field, Oliver was named to the All-ORLC First Team last season.
McCulley returns after a season in which she earned All-ORLC Second Team honors as a freshman. McCulley tallied 49 points on 44 goals and five assists. She also had 36 ground balls, 32 draw controls, and 18 caused turnovers.
Smith started all 17 games for the Pioneers last season as a freshman and tallied 29 points on 25 goals and four assists, while adding 24 groundballs, six draw controls, and five caused turnovers to her sheet.
"We have increased our number of midfielders from three to eight," comments Bickford. "We're particularly pleased with this position because of the impact it will have this year with all eight athletes contributing."
The Pioneers return two defensive cornerstones from last season in senior Katherine Stachowski and sophomore Harper Zeitz. Stachowski started all 17 games last year and will be a vocal leader for the Pioneers' defensive line this season. Stachowski had 17 ground balls, 11 caused turnovers, and eight draw controls for Transylvania as a junior, and was named to the All-ORLC Second Team.
Zeitz finished her freshman campaign with 45 ground balls, 26 caused turnovers, and 11 draw controls in 17 games last year. Zeitz kicked in three goals on the season and was named to the All-ORLC Second Team.
Sophomore Mackenzie Dent will serve as the Pioneers' primary goalie this season. Starting in an everyday role for the first time last season, Dent started all 17 games for the Pioneers in goal and posted an 8.63 goals-against average, the second-best mark in the ORLC. Dent also recorded a 46.2 save percentage in her 1022 minutes in goal, and capped off a successful season by being named to the All-ORLC First Team.
The Pioneers will open their season on Saturday, February 24 when they travel to Muskingum for a nonconference matchup. Transylvania opens the home portion of their schedule on Thursday, March 1 by hosting Wittenberg at Pat Deacon Stadium at 5:00 p.m.
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