Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Preseason Girls' Lacrosse Top 10

PRESEASON GIRLS' LACROSSE

Records are from last season.

1. Moorestown (25-0). The Quakers feature perhaps the nation's best all-around player: senior midfielder and North Carolina recruit Marie McCool. But the team's most striking feature is its depth. It's not uncommon for Moorestown's backups to earn Division I scholarships, and this year is no different. The Quakers are primed to make yet another run at a Tournament of Champions title.

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2. Shawnee (19-3). Aimee Seward is the Renegades' new coach, and Shawnee must replace one of its best senior classes. But the adjustment to a new coach and the replacement of several key players should not stop the Renegades from being an elite team. Senior attack Caroline Shinske will try to help her team return to the Tournament of Champions final.

3. Clearview (15-6). Consistently one of the area's top programs, Clearview returns talent all over the field - particularly on offense, where it features a lethal combination in junior attack Gianna Bowe and senior attack Jackie Pauling.

4. Eastern (18-2). Eastern was tremendous in 2013, recording a signature win over Shawnee in the regular season before falling to the Renegades in the sectional playoffs. A strong core returns, led by senior goalie Brittany Read, one of the area's best, and junior midfielder Austyn Cuneo.

5. Lenape (13-6). Eight starters return for a team whose only losses in 2013 were to Shawnee (three times), Eastern (twice), and Central Jersey power Allentown. The Indians feature a balanced and deep midfield, a strong defense, and a dangerous offense led by attack Rena Carabases, who recorded 53 goals and 22 assists as a junior.

6. Bishop Eustace (16-4). The return of senior midfielder and St. Joseph's recruit Kristen Kelbon, who missed last season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament, will provide an immediate boost for the Crusaders. Kelbon is complemented by eight returning starters, including senior midfielder Ellise Sullivan and senior defender Sarah Furey.

7. West Deptford (17-4). Last season was arguably the most successful in the history of the program, which, under coach Julie Catrambone, is quickly becoming one of South Jersey's most consistent. The team brings back plenty of talent, led by senior midfielder Paige Paratore.

8. Seneca (8-12). Playing one of South Jersey's toughest schedules, Seneca failed to reach .500 last season. But that doesn't mean the team wasn't talented, and much of that talent returns this season. The Golden Eagles feature dynamic scorers in senior attack Ellie Blythe and junior attack Megan Drum.

9. Rancocas Valley. Replacing twin midfielders Alex and Mackenzie Hlesciak, who graduated, won't be easy. But RV returns a strong core with impact players, including Deja Andrews in goal and sophomore Peyton Sventy at attack.

10. Haddonfield (10-8). Haddonfield has proved to be one of South Jersey's most resilient programs. That resiliency will be tested, as the Bulldogs must replace Taylor Ng and Gretchen Kiep, two of the team's best-ever scorers. But Haddonfield returns enough talent to be competitive, including senior goalie Kelsey Welsh.

- Chris Melchiorre

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