The Lehigh women’s lacrosse team opens its season Saturday afternoon with a game against St. Bonaventure University at Ulrich Sports Complex.
A week later, the team will host No. 4 Penn State University, a team that has defeated Lehigh in the beginning of the past three seasons.
The Mountain Hawks return from their second consecutive Patriot League Tournament semifinal loss with a third place preseason Patriot League ranking and two preseason all-league players, senior midfielder Kierstyn Voiro and graduate student defender Julianne D’Orazio.
Navy, who defeated Lehigh in the semifinals last year, and Loyola precede Lehigh in league rankings.
Voiro said Patriot League contests are the most important to the team, but she and senior defender Kelly McBrearty both agreed that Loyola and Navy games hold the largest weight for the the Mountain Hawks this season.
“Loyola is a big game for us,” McBrearty said. “We always play each other well, and it’s always a great game.”
No one on this season’s roster has defeated Loyola or Navy, and the team is looking to break both of those losing streaks this season.
Associate head coach Sammy Cermack said the team has had a successful and busy preseason preparing for the upcoming games. Cermack has been a member of the Lehigh women’s lacrosse coaching staff for four years but is entering her first season as associate head coach.
“We had really good energy coming back from break,” she said. “The seniors came in ready to go. There was such a long break, and we came out with guns blazing and are really excited for this weekend.”
The Mountain Hawks have a talented veteran group of defenders, with four seniors leading the team’s defense. Voiro said good plays on defense will lead to good plays all over the field.
Cermack agreed and said if the defense is able to create turnovers, it will also help create opportunities on the offensive end.
On the offensive side of the field, the players are younger but talented. Voiro said both offensive coaches will play an important role in building confidence among the group.
Entering the last season of her collegiate athletic career, McBrearty described the feeling as bittersweet. Voiro also heads into the season with mixed emotions.
“I am just trying to enjoy every single game and enjoy the process,” Voiro said. “I don’t want to take anything for granted.”