Buffalo, NY – Following their first season as an NCAA Division III program, the D'Youville women's lacrosse team is excited and looking forward to their second season with a fresh crop of talent.
"We have many new players to our team this year, some with lacrosse experience and some new comers to the sport," said third year head coach Kate Mayhook."We are fortunate that all of our new players are very athletic and are improving every practice. I am hoping that we see those improvements translate onto the field during games and we keep moving in that direction throughout the season."
The team will be led by two of their seniors, both on different ends of the field. Jillian Golding (Lockport, NY/Lockport) will lead the attack after leading the team in almost every offensive statistical category last season. On defense, Callan Smith (Amherst, NY/Amherst) is consistent and one of the most experienced players on the team and will provide leadership out of the back.
Golding was the best offensive player for the Spartans in 2017. She led the team in goals (29), points (34), shots (64), draw controls (35), caused turnovers (18), free position goals (7), and shots on goal (46). She ranked second in assists (5) and was third in ground balls (19). In eight of nine games, Jillian scored at least a goal and in seven of eight games she had two or more goals. Her best game came against Alfred University where she recorded eight goals, three assists, 11 points, and eight draw controls.
On the other end of the field, Smith is an extremely reliable player. She led the team in ground balls (21) last season and was second in caused turnovers (13), showing her consistency and importance on in the defensive end. Smith and Golding will serve as captains this season. Each has the ability to challenge their teammates to improve while also supporting and helping the new, younger players.
While Golding and Smith will be the most veteran leaders, the team has several returners that they will rely on to build success. Senior Kiernan Johnson (Cherry Valley, IL/Keith School) provides another attacking presence, and sophomore Rachel McMahon (Grand Island, NY/Sacred Heart Academy) brings a year of experience to the defense.
Juniors Shannon Robillard (Grand Island, NY/Grand Island), Michaela McMahon (Grand Island, NY/Grand Island), Julie Fleming (Tonawanda, NY/Mt. St. Mary's Academy), and sophomore Allison Schuman (Lancaster, NY/Lancaster) all played significant roles on the team last season and will continue to sharpen their skills this season. With their experience from 2017, the three will help develop the team and establish a level of play.
Two freshmen will look to have big first seasons in Marissa Markott (Sanborn, NY/Niagara-Wheatfield) on the attack and Alison Gareis (Buffalo, NY/Buffalo Seminary) on the defensive end. Each played at a high level in high school and will be counted on as young players.
Sophomore Rebecca Sliwowski (Niagara Falls, NY/Niagara Falls) comes into the team this season and has experience playing at the high school level. Marina Campbell (Niagara Falls, NY/Niagara Catholic) is also a sophomore and a three-sport athlete (soccer, basketball, lacrosse), bringing a wealth of athleticism to the field.
The freshmen newcomers to the team include Dominique Riforgiato (Fredonia, NY/Fredonia), Isabella Luciana (Webster, NY/Webster-Schroeder), Amber Lundrigan (Rome, NY/Rome Free Academy), and Cassandra Brooks (Grand Island, NY/Grand Island) – all who come from the women's soccer team and bring energy and athleticism. Juniors Sierra Brooks (Grand Island, NY/Grand Island) and Julia Prychodko (East Aurora, NY/East Aurora) are also newcomers to the team and will look to make impacts in their first season.
In goal, Megan Dulniak (Cheektowaga, NY/Cheektowaga) will take her place between the posts in her first year with the team. She had an extremely successful season for the women's soccer team after she was named an AMCC Second Team All-Conference selection this fall.
Coach Mayhook understands that there will be growing pains with so many new players on the roster, but she has noticed the hard work her team has put in and believes that doing the little things will help set the standard for the team moving forward.
"The team has been working hard and I hope that we can be on the winning end of a few games," said Mayhook. "My goal is that we can start winning the small battles, draw control, ground balls, turnovers and then start to focus on the bigger picture and putting together complete games."
Now in her third year leading the Spartans and second as an NCAA sport, Mayhook has learned several things about her team and herself to help push the team towards success.
"One of the most important things that I learned from last year is that the girls need to constantly challenge themselves and each other at every practice, to not make it easy on anyone during practice," said Mayhook. "I am trying to instill that work ethic in them so when they play in a game, they are ready to go up against our opponents."
"Another thing I learned is that we need everyone on the field to be involved and contributing in every game. It cannot just be a few players doing their best, we need all 12 players on the field working hard, supporting each other and staying positive during the games."
The team will get their season going this Saturday, March 10 as they visit the University of Rochester YellowJackets. Game time is set for 1:00pm.