BY DEVIN BAKER – STAFF WRITER
The 2017 Centre Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse campaigns begin this weekend. Both the Men and Women’s team seem to have the same goal in mind— to continue to build where they left off in the 2016 campaigns.
The Centre Women’s Lacrosse team looks improve off last year’s successful campaign after completing the season with a share of the SAA Regular Season Conference Title.
“As we are moving towards the beginning of our season the team is showing great promise,” said Assistant Coach Loralei Whittaker. “Julie and I are excited for our first game this upcoming Friday, and to build off of the successes we had last season. The team is a cohesive family that continues to rise to the challenges we place in front of them.”
The Colonels are returning multiple key role players from last year’s team who completed the season with a 12-5 record and 5-1 record in SAA competition. Two of these key returners are juniors Natalie Marek and Hannah Bellamah. Goalkeeper Natalie Marek returns as the 2016 SAA Defender of the Year. Marek ranked second in the SAA in both saves (138) and save percentage (47.3 percent) on the season. Marek and the defensive squad surrounding her had 9.06 goals against average, ranking third in the SAA. One of those defenders surrounding Marek was Hannah Bellamah. Bellamah begins the 2017 campaign as the reigning SAA Newcomer of the Year. In 2016, Bellamah led the SAA with 59 goals scored on the season while also ranking second in the conference with 71 points.
Both Marek and Bellamah joined the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association Second Team All-West Region squad.
Having only graduated two seniors, Jacqueline Anderson and Andrea Wambaugh, the Colonels are excited to not only continue where they left off but also to keep building with the addition of two first years, Abby Whitford and Marina Burke.
“We have a very seasoned group of athletes, who understand their roles and responsibilities, are playing confidently and having fun. We have exciting first year players, who are progressing daily,” said Head Coach Julie Beer. “Right now our focus is on Piedmont and preparing to compete.”
The Centre Women’s Lacrosse team begins their 2017 season as the Centre Athletics Game-of-the-Week as they take on Piedmont College (0-1) on the South Turf on Fri., February 17 at 6:00 pm. The Colonels will begin SAA Conference play against Oglethorpe on Sat., February 18 in Atlanta.
Similarly, the Centre’s Men’s Lacrosse team looks to build on a strong 2016 campaign. The Colonels finished 2016 season with an 11-5 overall record and a 6-1 record in SAA conference play. Centre advanced to the SAA title game for only the second time in program history and posted a second place finish in the conference to Sewanee (12-3).
While the Colonels have a relatively young team with 12 first-years, the Colonels return also 8 seniors, including long stick midfielder Mason Paas, attackman Austin Zehnder, and defender Jake Marfise. Paas, Zehnder, and Marfise each garnered SAA All-Conference honors at the end of the 2016 campaign. In addition, junior goalkeeper Samuel Long returns off of an All-Conference selection to the SAA Second Team.
The Centre Men’s Lacrosse team opens their 2017 season at home on Sat., February 18 at 1:00 PM. The Colonels will be taking on Mount St. Joseph. The Colonels begin SAA conference play on Sat., March 25 against Berry.
Both teams are looking to open their 2017 campaigns with strong statements to set the tone for contests that will remain later in their seasons.