NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After a shortened 2020 season that included just nine games, the Vanderbilt women’s lacrosse team will play a challenging 17-game slate starting Feb. 13 at No. 2 Notre Dame.
Let’s take a closer look at what head coach Beth Hewitt’s Commodores will look like in 2021.
Notable Returners: Karlie Bucci, Gabby Fornia, Sophie Furlong, Griffin Gearhardt, Lila Huddles, Kate Murphy, Maddie Souza and Callie Sundin
Newcomers: Haley Gochnauer, Cailin Bracken and Megan Graziano
The Commodores return a lethal core at attack, led by seniors Gabby Fornia and Karlie Bucci. Fornia tallied 29 points (12 goals, 17 assists) in the abbreviated 2020 season. With 19 assists this season, Fornia will become the program’s all-time career leader. Bucci notched 17 points (9 G, 8 A) and eight ground balls in 2020, while Callie Sundin, a junior, was responsible for eight goals, which is fifth among returners.
In addition, Sophie Furlong and Griffin Gearhardt bring more needed experience on the attack and a trio of new freshmen could push a surging offense to newer heights, including Cailin Bracken and Megan Graziano, who have shown an advanced knowledge of the x’s and o’s in their first few months on campus.
Notable Returners: Nellie Blaze, Paige Finneran, Bri Gross, Mikela McCauley, Cassidy Orban and Kayla Rieu
Newcomers: Ellie Hilsabeck and Ella Smith
Without a strong midfield, success would be hard to come by. But the Commodores find their strength with depth in this area of the field. Bri Gross, a junior from El Dorado Hills, California, was a stalwart in the Commodore midfield in 2020, and led the Dores with 25 goals, 35 total points and 38 draw controls.
Senior Elizabeth Scarrone will be a force to be reckoned with in the draw circle and has the potential to take over a game in that spot.
Another senior, Cassidy Orban, played a big role last season with nine points (6 G, 3 A), 16 draw controls, seven ground balls and caused three turnovers. Sophomore, Paige Finneran, proved her worth as a freshman a season ago with six points (5 G, 1 A), four draw controls won, four turnovers caused and four ground balls.
Sophmore Mikela McCauley was on the verge of a breakout freshman season last year, while Kayla Reiu has had a breakout fall and spring preseason after limited playing time in her rookie campaign.
Notable Returners: Emily Brooks, Nicki Dadino, Devin Fitzpatrick, Melissa Hawkins, Halle Regan, Dede Daly and Ellie Hilsabeck
Newcomers: Maggie Arnold and Remy Ricciardi
Senior Spotlight: #11 Halle Regan
— Vanderbilt Lacrosse (@VandyLacrosse) January 18, 2021
A trio of seniors – Nicki Dadino, Melissa Hawkins and Halle Regan – started in every game last season, have been reliable on the backline and were in the top four in terms of causing turnovers in 2020. Regan led the AAC with 25 caused turnovers and 15 ground balls a season ago, in addition to three ground balls and three turnovers in the upset over No. 10 Denver. Dadino scooped up 19 ground balls and caused seven turnovers, while Hawkins accounted for 14 caused turnovers and groundballs last season.
The defense will have depth with several other returnees, including Dede Daly, who is a midfielder-turned-defender and is coming into her own on defense with some of her best lacrosse since getting to campus. In addition, junior Megan MacGillis, returns after she tallied six ground balls and caused three turnovers in nine games last year, as well as sophomore Devin Fitzpatrick, and a trio of freshmen in Maggie Arnold, Ellie Hilsabeck and Remy Ricciardi.
Notable Returners: Paige Gunning
Newcomers: Lexie de Roziere and Lindsey Maxwell
Lost: Lily Argyle and Madison Foglio
Paige Gunning, a sophomore from Severna Park, Maryland, will be between the pipes for the Dores for the 2021 opener. A season ago, she started all nine games in her freshman season, including a victory in her collegiate debut. Her 7.6 saves per game were good enough for second in the AAC. She even aided the defense with scooping up 11 ground balls and causing three turnovers.
Vanderbilt lost Argyle and Foglio last season, but another pair of Commodore goalkeepers will step in with two newcomers to the squad: Lexie de Roziere and Lindsey Maxwell.
Vanderbilt will play five games against preseason Top 25 opponents. That includes the preseason No. 1 and No. 2, which will be part of three of the first four contests against ranked opposition. Vandy opens at No. 2 Notre Dame and begins the home slate with No. 24 Colorado. Four of the five games against ranked teams will be on the road, including back-to-back road matchups at Florida in April.
The Commodores will host nine games in Nashville this season. Five of those against non-conference foes while AAC opponents Old Dominion, in the program’s first season in the conference, and Temple will make the trip to Music City.
The AAC Tournament is slated for May 6-8.