Strong start has raised aspirations for Eagles

Posted April 01, 2010, at 9:04 p.m.

After an inaugural season that produced a .500 record and plenty of reason for optimism, the Husson University women’s lacrosse team has raised its expectations five games into its second campaign.

“Well, our overall goal hasn’t changed, really,” said head coach Mark Hundhammer. “We want to host a quarterfinal playoff and semifinals here and advance from the East division to the championship game.”

The overall goal may not have changed, but some of the seasonal, statistical ones are as the team improves and tries to build on the momentum of a 3-1-1 start to the season.

The Eagles wanted to average at least 15 goals a game while holding foes to 10 or less.

“We’re targeted on that now,” he said, noting Husson’s current per-game averages of 15.3 goals for and 8.4 against through the month of March.

The Eagles created some statistical wiggle room for themselves Wednesday with a 27-8 victory, but Hundhammer knows those results will be few and far between this season.

“We’re good in transition and can get up and down the field pretty fast,” Hundhammer said. “We try to work on our settled attack and score some goals on cuts, which is good to see, but we still need to get better at moving the ball quicker.

“Framingham State shut us down the other day, partly because we still run the ball a little more rather than passing and getting more involved.”

Despite missing the season’s first two weeks due to basketball season, attacker Shelby Bradford (45 goals and 15 assists last season) has made up for lost time with a team-high 18 goals and nine assists.

But the senior from Lee isn’t the only scoring threat on the team. Junior captain and attacker Megan Clement of Brunswick has 12 goals and six assists, sophomore attacker Alexandra Laniewski has 10 and two, junior midfielder Caitlyn Butterfield has nine and two, and freshman attacker Kim Gambon has nine and one.

“We lost eight players from last season and added nine,” said Hundhammer. “Everybody has an extra year of experience and maturity and we’ve had some new faces, Kim and Michelle [Rancourt] in particular, who have been able to make immediate impacts.”

Rancourt, a freshman defender from Lewiston, has six goals and one assist.

The contributions from new faces haven’t just been on the offensive end. Hundhammer talked freshman Kristen Capen of Leeds, a goalkeeper for Husson’s field hockey team, to come out for lacrosse.

Despite having just four weeks of lacrosse experience, Capen is splitting time with junior Nikki Burns of South Berwick in goal. Capen has a .510 saves percentage with 26 saves in four games while Burns is at .550 with 11.

With all the pieces seemingly in place, Hundhammer has not only raised expectations, but also the complexity of Husson’s offensive and defensive game plans, schemes and plays.

“Last year, we were as square one as we could be. We just tried to be patient and develop skills,” he said. “This year, we’re able to utilize different formations and attacks and try some different combinations game to game.”

The Eagles were picked to win the North Atlantic Conference with 17 votes in the conference preseason coaches’ poll. They’ll find out just how far they’ve come from a year ago as they hit the road Saturday to take on Green Mountain College (Vt.), the team picked just behind Husson by a single point.

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