Tigers looking to Rohrback
Two straight Colonial Athletic Championships and two appearances in the NCAA Tournament. That’s what the resume looks like for Towson over past two seasons.
As the 2014 season begins, the Tigers will be looking to improve upon an already strong track record. Head Coach Sonia LaMonica said she believes the team, ranked No. 18 in the IWLCA Coaches’ Poll, has the potential to go even further than it has in the past two seasons.
“This season will be a culmination of the last three years of building. We want to be one the premier teams in the country,” LaMonica said. “I don’t see any reason why we can’t get to the final four. I think they’re ready, they’re hungry and they finally truly believe in what they can accomplish.”
Towson will enter the 2014 season without its top three scorers from last year: Rhiannon Coogle, Jackie LaMonica and Olivia Turner. Together, the trio scored 93 goals last season, good for 49 percent of the team total.
However, the Tigers are getting senior attack Ashleigh Rohrback back, who led the team in points last season (19 goals, 32 assists). She was named the Colonial Athletic Association preseason Co-Player of the Year along with Hofstra’s April Iannetta.
“Ashleigh brings a lot of good qualities that come with experience,” LaMonica said. “She’s got great control and great stick skills. She’s just a very crafty attacker and someone that, as a coach, when the ball is in her stick, you feel very confident.”
Rohrback will anchor a Towson offense that was without redshirt junior attack Andi Raymond last season, as the attack missed 2013 with injury. Raymond earned All-CAA first team honors in her sophomore year, racking up 35 goals and 33 assists to lead the team in points.
LaMonica said she is excited to see how the tandem of Rohrback and Raymond will gel this season.
“[Andi] has great athleticism and size that makes her a dynamic player. She brings great finishing ability, but also a real knack operating within an offense,” LaMonica said. “[Ashleigh] will not have as much weight on her shoulders with the return of Andi. To have them working together, it’s going to make our offense very dangerous.”
Rohrback and Raymond will lead a Tiger offense that scored 191 goals last season, ranking first in the CAA. LaMonica said she is also looking for production on offense from sophomore midfielder Breanna Hamm, junior midfielder Paige Duncan and junior attack Taylor Moore.
Duncan received All-CAA Second Team honors last season, scoring 19 goals and adding 14 assists. Hamm started seven games in 2013, finishing with three points.
Junior goalie Kelsey Donnelly will start in goal for Towson, highlighting a defensive front that features seniors defense Kaitlin Sheridan and senior defensive midfielder Katie Leech. Donnelly, Leech and Sheridan all got All-CAA preseason honors.
The Tigers play a tough 2014 schedule, which includes six games against ranked teams. The Tigers will face No. 1 North Carolina, No. 2 Syracuse and No. 3 Maryland according to the poll, all on the road.
Despite the challenging road ahead, LaMonica said that her team has pulled closer to the powerhouses of women’s lacrosse.
“With each season, we’ve grown stronger. Last season, we were closing the gap against some top teams,” LaMonica said. “We’re playing a top notch schedule, so that we’ll be challenged every step of the way. But we’re going to heading into games with the mindset of knocking these teams off.”
Towson opens its season Johnny Unitas Stadium on Feb. 19 against cross-town rival University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The game is set to start at 4 p.m.