For the News’ full preview of the 2016 Yale women’s lacrosse season, click here.
Princeton enters the 2016 season after a program-best performance last year, running the table in conference play en route to an outright Ivy League championship and its first victory in the Ivy Tournament since 2011. In addition to returning three All-Americans from last year’s squad, including Ivy Tournament Most Valuable Player and unanimous first team All-Ivy midfielder Olivia Hompe, the Tigers boast the 10th strongest freshmen class in the NCAA, according to Inside Lacrosse. Owning the No. 13 spot in the Inside Lacrosse preseason rankings, Princeton will surely be the team to beat in 2016 as it chases its third-straight Ivy title.
Ranked one spot behind Princeton in the Inside Lacrosse preseason rankings at No. 12, Penn returns to the field this season eager to reclaim its position at the top of the Ancient Eight. The Quakers entered last season having earned a share of eight consecutive Ivy conference titles, but ceded their only two conference losses in 2015 to the Tigers, finishing the season second in conference and runner-up in the Ivy Tournament. Replacing three first team All-Ivy selections in 2016, including reigning attacker of the year Tory Bensen and defender of the year Meg Markham, will pose a challenge for the Quakers in their quest to rebound.
2015 was a season of two halves for Cornell. After starting 8–2 and winning its first three conference games by a combined 22 goals, the Big Red lost four of its final five regular season games, including a 10–9 defeat at the hands of Penn in its season finale. Though Cornell earned a rematch against the Quakers the following week in the Ivy Tournament, it again lost by just one goal in a hard-fought first-round battle. To find consistency this year, the Big Red will turn to 2015 first team All-Ivy attacker Amie Dickson to lead its offense, which led the league in scoring last season.
Harvard never won or lost more than two consecutive games last year as the team paced its way to an Ivy League Tournament berth, before falling to Princeton 15–8 in the opening round. Attack Marisa Romeo, midfielder Audrey Todd and defender Emma Ford comprised the program’s first trio of All-Ivy first team selections since 1998, and with last season’s lone senior, Hannah Mullen, only appearing in four games, Crimson underclassmen led the team in almost every statistical category. Led by three captains and welcoming eight freshmen to the team in 2016, Harvard will utilize its experience to chase the program’s first conference title since 1993.
Though starting its 2015 campaign with a nine-game losing streak and finishing winless in all seven nonconference matches, Dartmouth finished its season by winning three of its final four Ivy League games, including overtime victories against Cornell and Columbia. Despite midfielder Jaclyn Leto earning unanimous first-team All-Ivy recognition for the second consecutive year and finishing fourth in the conference in goals scored, the Big Green still finished its 3–11 season with a league-worst minus-46 goal differential. Dartmouth’s Ivy-most 10 incoming freshmen will join the team in hopes of returning to the upper half of the Ancient Eight.
A year after enduring its seventh consecutive losing conference season, Yale will look to turn things around in the program’s 40th season under first-year head coach Erica LaGrow. The Bulldogs managed just 42 goals in their 2–5 Ivy campaign last year, with half of those goals attributed to four seniors not rejoining the team in 2016. Yale will look to redefine its offensive identity this season while relying on the team’s veteran-heavy defense, which ranked 18th among all NCAA teams last year with just 8.67 goals allowed per game last year.
Despite a 6–2 showing in nonconference play in 2015, Brown struggled to put together any success in its Ivy League season, with its only league win coming by just one goal against fellow cellar-dweller Columbia. The Bears graduated their only two All-Ivy selections, second-teamer Alyssa Dibona and honorable mention recipient Jane Gion, as well as former goalie Kellie Roddy, whose 348 career saves rank sixth in program history. Brown will look to rely on contributions from six freshmen in its quest for improvement this season.
The Lions finished last season in a familiar place at the bottom of the Ivy standings, as their lone conference win of 2015, a 5–3 home victory against Yale, was just the third conference victory in the last 10 seasons for the Lions. Along with eight freshmen, the team will also welcome new assistant coach Kelly McPartland, who graduated from University of Maryland last spring after leading the Terrapins to back-to-back national championships. Columbia has much to learn from McPartland this season as it fights to escape the bottom spot in the Ivy League.