The 2011 Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Associates (WCLA) season is underway, and the league formerly known as WDIA boasts no shortage of contenders, starting with defending champion and preseason No. 1-ranked Colorado State.
1. Colorado State
The Rams have won two of the last three WDIA titles, but face a significant rebuilding effort. They do return goalie Annette Greenberg who played a major role in CSU’s championship run.
2. Santa Clara
The Broncos have a new coach, Jen Lee, and lost WDIA Player of the Year Krista Shaw, but they welcome back arguably the nation’s best player in goalie Renee Eligio and two other All-Americans — Gracie Binder and Maggie Burke.
3. Cal Poly
The Mustangs reached the WDIA final last year and will be loaded offensively this year with All-American Stacy Patch at midfield and senior Ashley Royer on attack.
4. UC Davis Club
Former Division I varsity player Jacklyn Taylor dominated the midfield for the Aggies last year to earn All-America honors along with Jessica Dresser. An OT loss to Cal Poly ended UC Davis’ quest to win a title in its first WDIA appearance. The Aggies will be a force this year.
The Lions earned their highest seed (second) and reached the WDIA semifinals for the first time ever. Now they’ll go after a title behind returning All-Americans Justiene Groothuis, Kathryn St. George, Lacey Vatland and Katie Veile.
6. UC Santa Barbara
A quarterfinal loss to CSU ended the Gauchos’ championship hopes. All-America middie Ashley Antoon-Algieri will look to get UCSB over the championship hump.
The Buffs turned some heads, upsetting top-seeded Santa Clara in the WDIA quarters last year, but have big shoes to fill with the loss of two-time All-Americans Amber Lister and Jody Weisenhorn.
8. Virginia Tech
The 2009 champ lost to eventual champ Colorado State in the opening round, but with three straight league titles, the Hokies have established themselves as a consistent force.
Standout goalie Maggie Warne is gone, but the Cougars have a serious offensive force in sophomore Brooke Smith.
All-American Kate O’Linn lit up the scoreboard in Scottsdale last spring with 23 goals in just four games at the WDIA championships. All-America goalie Adrianna Paidas also returns for the Gators, who also expect to get a boost from some former varsity players.
The Bruins have graduated five all-league players, including the 1-2 offensive punch of Lauren Arinello and Hayley Wheeler (combined 321 goals the last three years), but junior co-captain Morgan Oberstein will have the Bruins in the thick of the WWLL race again. Four one-goal losses kept UCLA from Scottsdale last year.
An 0-4 start at the Santa Barbara Shootout was too much to overcome, and the Wolverines missed the WDIA tournament for the first time since 2001. Leading scorer Samantha Zetlin returns to help Michigan return to the national stage.
All-American Michele Manis was the top defender in the SWLL last year and played a pivotal role in helping the Bulldogs beat Florida for the league title. The junior captain will be the key for the Dawgs to make a repeat trip to WDIA tournament.
14. Boston College
The Eagles returned to the WDIA tournament last year and featured a pretty powerful of offensive threats that should return, including junior midfielder Catherine Crowe.
The Longhorns were very young last year, but won the TWLL and played well at nationals. With junior All-American Clayton Crum and sophomores Grace Jackson and Jordan Cook more experienced, the Longhorns look to make the next step.
The Panthers have missed two straight WDIA tournaments, but played well against some strong teams, including a win over Boston College. With tons of experience returning, Pitt could be back.
Virginia Tech’s success has resulted in better appreciation for Virginia’s quality. The Cavaliers went 11-4 last year, including a pair of one-goal losses to the Hokies.
The Gophers finished 2010 strong, giving Lindenwood all it could handle at nationals before winning two consolation bracket games. Senior middie Lindsay Lewis might be the most dynamic player in the nation.
19. Arizona State
The Sun Devils would love to make their first trip to the WDIA tournament since 2005 a short one — down the road to Scottsdale. Last year’s 10 wins was the school’s most since 2006, and ASU played UCSB tough in the WWLL playoffs.
20. Central Florida
The Knights started last year 8-1 before struggling against the top WDIA teams down the stretch. Seniors Jackie Iquinta and Amber Jozwiak both earned all-league honors last year.
For more: http://laxmagazine.com/college_women/club/2010-11/news/020111_wcla_division_i_lacrosse_preseason_top_20