Continuing to establish a winning culture under second-year coach Kat Enders is the over-arching goal of the Linfield women’s lacrosse program.
The 2016 team is admittedly young and still learning the nuances of the sport, yet Enders looks forward to teaching players who are eager to develop their skills and be part of turning the program back around.
“We have a lot of raw talent and our true test will be to see if we can continue the trajectory we have set this winter,” she said.
The roster lists 20 players, 12 of which are freshmen. Fielding such an inexperienced roster creates opportunities for young leadership on and off the field, said Enders. “In order to be successful, we are asking those freshmen to step up into leadership roles traditionally held by upperclassmen.”
Perhaps the most noticeable change from last season is between the goal pipes, where two former position players have been groomed to guard the net. Donning the goalie gear, for the first time in their careers, sophomores Maria Nelson and Rebecca Kimball have so far made smooth transitions. Nelson’s strengths are her fast hands and good reaction time. Kimball offers quick feet and great lateral movement. “It’s exciting to have two players excelling so quickly in that position,” said Enders. “I foresee playing time will be competitive between the two. Hopefully they will push one another.”
Offensively, senior Kelsey Dammarell is expected to be one of the Wildcats’ leading attackers this spring. Quick and fearless when going after a ball, Dammarell has made significant improvement with her shooting accuracy, according to Enders.
Genna Hughes, fresh from an outstanding season on the basketball court, adds a wealth of knowledge to the Wildcats’ defense and midfield. An excellent communicator with strong stick skills, Hughes was forced to sit out all of lacrosse season last year while nursing an injury.
Linfield’s freshman class brings improved lacrosse skills and athleticism. Emily Mishko is expected to make an impact on both ends of the field and will solidify the midfield. Mae Seifert is another newcomer who will see a lot of playing time. Seifert has great potential on the draw, is a good shooter, and is aggressive and persistent when defending.
Sophomores Angelica Martinez and Amber Kaholoaa are what Enders calls “diamonds in the rough.” Both Wildcats took up the sport for the first time last spring but have put in a lot of work during the off-season to return stronger and with more polish. Together, they can be a dynamic force on offense and leaders of offensive strategy and movement.
Linfield faces a difficult battle within the Northwest Conference, which this spring welcomes Whitman as the fifth lacrosse-playing school. Pacific, George Fox and Puget Sound are all fully established programs and again are likely to present sturdy challenges for the Wildcats.
A smorgasbord of out-of-conference foes await Linfield as well. Occidental and Colorado College are two of the top teams in the NCAA’s West Region. Hamline, a startup program from Minnesota is on the Wildcats’ schedule as part of a three-game spring break trip that also includes North Central and Southwestern. The Wildcats also host Wooster of Ohio and Berry from Georgia during the season.