DURHAM, N.H. -- Expect more of the same, only better, from the University of New Hampshire women's lacrosse team under the guidance of 12th-year head coach Sandy Bridgeman in 2008.

More of the same: the Wildcats look to advance to the America East Championship tournament for the 11th consecutive year.

Only better: UNH's growing pains of youth in the 2006 and 2007 seasons have yielded a mature, cohesive team poised to take it to the next level and make a run to the NCAA tournament.

On offense, six of the seven double-digit point scorers – including the top three –  return from '07.

Senior attack Moira Talbot (Marblehead, Mass.) will once again quarterback the offense from behind the net. She ranked second on the team in goals (27), tied for second in assists (seven) and was third overall in points (34).

Sarah Von Bargen (East Setauket, N.Y.), who broke the program's rookie scoring records in the 2006 season, led last year's UNH team in both goals (29) and points (36) en route to garnering All-Conference First Team honors.

Shaunna Kaplan (Framingham, Mass.) returns after a strong rookie season and a second year with the UNH women's soccer team. She tallied a team-high 12 assists last season and ranked second in points (35) as well as fourth in goals (23). Kaplan was a strong all-around player for the 'Cats who led the team in draw controls, ranked third in caused turnovers and fourth in ground balls.

Ashley Durepo
(Concord, N.H.) rounds out this group of dynamic returning scorers. The junior is the fourth-leading returning player in points (25) and fifth in goals (19). She was also among the team leaders in ground balls, draw controls and caused turnovers and her earned All-Conference Second Team accolades with her all-around statistics.

Senior Maureen Wark (Yarmouth, Maine) brings two years of playing experience with the 'Cats to the 2008 season. In addition to providing depth to the rotation, Wark brings leadership and the intangibles that molds a team.

Redshirt freshman Susie Piotrkowski (Frranklin, Conn.) is healthy this season and will give the 'Cats another weapon in the starting lineup.

Incoming freshman Deb Dale (East Northport, N.Y.), who received All-America Honorable Mention recognition a year ago, is expected to make an immediate impact for New Hampshire.

Sophomore Sarah Andersen (Concord, N.H.) and newcomer Allie Bratton (Windermere, Fla.) give the attack added depth.

Senior co-captain Ashley Crook (South Burlington, Vt.) and junior Michaela Hardy (Reading, Mass.) anchor the midfield unit. In 2007, Crook returned from an off-season injury to play in the last four games of the year; she averaged 3.00 ground balls per game as well as one caused turnover per game in that abbreviated time. As a sophomore, Crook played her way into the starting lineup early in the season and ranked among the team leaders in ground balls, draw controls and caused turnovers.

Hardy, on the verge of a breakout year in 2008, tied for fourth on the team in goals last season with 23 and she is the fifth-highest returning scorer (27 points).

Sophomores Mikki Ekfelt (Falls Church, Va.) and Kellen Millard (Ispwich, Mass.) will battle for increased playing time. Freshman Dana Poist (Timonium, Md.) will also be fighting for a position in the rotation.

Bailley Mazur (Longmeadow, Mass.), the other senior co-captain, is the leader of the defensive unit and has the hardware (All-Conference First Team) to prove it. She ranked second on the team in both ground balls and draw controls last season and was among UNH's leaders in those statistics as a sophomore as well.

The speedy Kelli LaPerch (Brewster, N.Y.) had a breakout year in '07 as a sophomore. After seeing limited playing time as a rookie, LaPerch emerged as a defensive weapon for the 'Cats by leading the team in caused turnovers and ground balls; she also ranked fourth in draw controls.

Beth Sabiston (Bayshore, N.Y.), who actually scored double digits in goals last season, is another one of the team's top returning defenders.

Allie Duclos (South Windsor, Conn.), with her experience on the U.S. Under-19 Team, is expected to make immediate contributions at the defensive end of the field. The 'Cats also welcome Jess Cassotis (York, Maine) and Britt Conway (Portsmouth, N.H.) to the team in '08 and they will provide depth to the unit.


Senior Ashley Milley (Sudbury, Mass.) will be a third-year starter for the Wildcats. She earned the starter's role as a sophomore in 2006 and is a vocal leader whose athleticism makes her an extra defender on the field. Milley played in 10 games overall last year and her .461 save percentage was the higher than her previous two years. Milley earned All-Rookie Team honors from the league in 2005, when she recorded a 9.10 GAA.

Nikki Hume (North Hampton, N.H.), who garnered All-State First Team honors from 2005-07 at nearby Winnacunnet High School (Hampton, N.H.), will be Milley's understudy.

New Hampshire will face a team that advanced to last year's NCAA tournament in three of its initial four games of the 2008 season. The Wildcats open up on the road against one of those teams – Hofstra University – on February 23. UNH's home opener is scheduled for February 27 against Holy Cross, which also advanced to the NCAAs in '07.

The 'Cats open March's slate at home against intrastate rival Dartmouth College on the 2nd, then travel to play another Ivy League foe – Yale – on the 5th.

UNH continues its non-conference schedule with consecutive home games against UConn (March 7) and Harvard (March 12). The Wildcats head south to Vanderbilt University for a game against the Commodores – the fourth team on the schedule that played in last year's NCAA tourney – and another vs. Cornell during the University's spring break.

New Hampshire returns home and opens its six-game America East slate against UMBC on March 22. The Wildcats step out of the conference for a matchup at UMass on the 25th, then begins a stretch of five straight conference games with a home game against Binghamton on the 29th.

April opens on the road against Stony Brook, Vermont and Boston University before concluding league competition at home vs. Albany on the 16th. UNH's regular season ends with a home game against Oregon on April 20.

The top seeded-team of the America East Championship will be host of the tournament, which will be held April 25-27. UNH has advanced to the tourney 10 consecutive years – the league's longest active streak.
View: Mobile | Desktop