This Saturday, the women’s lacrosse team will open its 2013 season full of anticipation.

After going 5–10 last season, the Bulldogs have assembled what could be their most complete roster in many years. Fifth-year head coach Anne Phillips pairs her third fully recruited freshman lacrosse class with a team that has lost only two players from the previous year: last year’s captain Caroline Crow ’12 and goalkeeper Whitney Quackenbush ’12.

The Elis return six of their seven top scorers from last year and nine players who started seven or more games last season, along with goalkeeper Erin McMullan ’14.

The team faces the challenge of replacing Crow, who posted 35 goals and 13 assists last year. Looking to fill that role, captain Devon Rhodes ’13 returns as the team’s top scorer with 21 goals in 2012 and 64 over her career. Midfielder Cathryn Avallone ’15 looks to add to her total of 16 goals and six assists from last season.

“This year feels different because we know that we can win. Every season begins with a lot of optimism, but the talent and chemistry on this year’s team is promising,” midfielder Christina Doherty ’15 said.

Complementing the returning core of players are 10 talented freshmen, including All-American Lauren Wackerle ’16, ESPN Rise’s No. 11 best defender Kate Walker ’16 and No. 5 on the all-time national high school assist list AnnaElise Morello ’16.

“Each year, we have counted on the freshman class to positively impact our program immediately,” Phillips said. “This year’s freshman class complements the returning talent in our sophomore, junior and senior classes. It is likely that a number of freshmen will see significant playing time this year.”

Two new coaches have also joined the team. Jill Boffa joins the Bulldogs as an assistant coach who will specialize in training the defense and goalkeepers. Boffa brings plenty of experience, having served as a head coach from 1998 through 2007 at Colby-Sawyer, Manhattan and Kenyon. She has amassed three coach of the year awards in her respective conferences as well as an MAAC championship at Manhattan College in 2004.

Additionally, Phillips has added Melissa Schweitzer as a volunteer assistant, who will work with the attack and help put in place new offensive schemes for the team. Schweitzer played for Temple from 2008 through 2012, earning third-team All-Philadelphia Division I honors in 2012.

“Missy offers the team a young and fresh perspective of the game since her own career at Temple just ended. She knows what it’s like to be a player today and has really helped me improve offensively with her emphasis of doing everything with speed,” midfielder Tori Virtue ’16 said.

The new pieces could not come at a better time for the Bulldogs as they prepare to enter what may be their toughest schedule yet. In a season which marks the fourth year of the Ivy League women’s lacrosse tournament, the Elis will compete against four nationally ranked teams — Penn, Dartmouth, Princeton and Cornell — of which two made the NCAA tournament last year.

“I am extremely pleased with the pride that our players are taking in their work ethic. I think bright days are ahead for Yale women’s lacrosse,” Phillips said. “We continue to see improvement and are looking forward to a very successful season.”

The Elis’ first home game is scheduled for Saturday, March 2 at 1 p.m. against Dartmouth.