Jan. 25, 2013
Our third and final installment of the lacrosse season preview will look at Vanderbilt's midfielders and discuss the 2013 schedule.
Vanderbilt Head Coach Cathy Swezey will be starting from a clean slate when she puts together a starting midfield this season. The quartet of Ally Carey, Kacie Connors, Kelly Connors and Kendall Pittinger started all 16 games last year.
"We have a little less experience in the midfield," Swezey said. "We had a senior-laden midfield last year that carried such a heavy burden. But if we ask our line defenders and line attackers to pick up their roles, we've got some young middies that can really stand up and have the solid performances we need them to have."
One spot that Swezey will look to fill through youth is in the center circle, where Carey graduated as the school's all-time leader in draw controls. She expects freshman Kelly Chandler to start the season taking draws.
"She's a very strong kid who can go up and get any ball," Swezey said. "She probably had the best performance in terms of taking the draw [during fall training]. And then on the circle, you just need good stick kids ... kids who are willing to block out a little bit."
The Commodores' 2013 schedule is highlighted by American Lacrosse Conference matchups against Northwestern and Florida, who finished the season ranked Nos. 1 and 3. The 2013 ALC Tournament is scheduled for the first weekend of May in Baltimore, Md. Following that, the expanded 26-team NCAA Tournament begins on Friday, May 10. Swezey and her colleagues are happy for the tournament to be expanded this season.
"It's beyond exciting," Swezey said. "When you talk about the teams over the last 5-10 years that have been on the wrong side of the bubble, you're talking about some great programs who have had great wins in their seasons and still didn't qualify. We're excited about what it means."
Despite graduating 10 student-athletes from last year's squad, Coach Swezey is looking for this year's team to perform at a high level from day one, when the Commodores will travel to face Jacksonville on Sunday, Feb. 3.
"While we're a young team, I think there's a lot to be excited about," Swezey said. "We have a team that is extremely committed. I don't know if I've ever seen a team lift and run as hard as they did in our fall season. We are probably more fit than we have been in a lot of years. We've got a fully committed squad and I think good things are on the horizon."