Navy women’s lacrosse lost a deep and productive class to graduation.
Some of those seniors, such as attacker Reagan Roelofs and defender Christine Fiore, were four-year standouts. Others blossomed into key players during their final season.
In addition to the seniors, Navy also lost starting goalie Jo Torres, who transferred to Towson following a strong sophomore season.
Eight starters in all are gone and they leave big shoes to fill. Hall of Fame coach Cindy Timchal isn’t dwelling on the players Navy no longer has, but rather those being counted on to capably replace them.
“We had a very good senior group last season and those players will be missed. On the positive side, we have an incredibly talented group of freshmen that came in,” Timchal said. “We had a real competitive fall and that has carried over into preseason practice. This young team is very focused and determined.”
By far the biggest loss was Roelofs, who led the team in goals (53), assists (18) and draw controls (123). The Minnesota native ranks second in program history with 390 draw controls despite playing just six games during the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign.
“We were very blessed to have Reagan. We really relied on her taking the draws and scoring the past four years,” TImchal said.
Now the leadership falls to co-captains Charlotte Ryan and Athena Corroon. Ryan is the team’s leading returning scorer after firing in 30 goals in her first season as a starting attacker. Corroon is one of two returning starters on line defense.
“Being named captain is an honor and a big responsibility that we take seriously. Working with Athena is great. I couldn’t have a better partner to lead this team,” Ryan said. “Our entire senior class is very connected. We want to win, we want to go all the way. We want to beat Army and Loyola. As a group, they have a lot of fire and are very motivated.”
Ryan will be joined on attack by two other returning starters in juniors Leelee Denton and Lindsay Beardmore. Denton is a preseason All-Patriot League pick after scoring 32 goals in 2022. Beardmore had a balanced sophomore season with 17 goals and 17 assists. Also back on attack is Lola Leone, who had a productive plebe campaign with 21 goals.
Timchal is excited to regain the services of sophomore midfielder Emily Messinese, who missed most of last season with a knee injury. The Gerstell Academy product scored five goals in five games before going down.
Isabelle Thornburg is another returning midfielder and will be counted on for increased offensive production. Bolstering the midfield are several highly-touted freshmen in Ava Yovino, Maggie DeFabio, Maura Murphy (Glenelg) and Ka McAteer.
Yovino and DeFabio were both three-time USA Lacrosse High School All-Americans.
After relying on Roelofs to take the majority of draws the past four seasons, Navy will now employ a rotation of Ryan, Murphy and McAteer.
Senior Erin Carson anchors the line defense and is another preseason All-Patriot League selection. The four-year starter has amassed 48 ground balls and 33 caused turnovers in her career. Junior Caroline Stefans has earned a starting spot, while four players are still battling for the fourth spot.
With Torres now starting at Towson, Navy will turn to sophomore Emma Richardell to take over between the pipes. The Walter Johnson graduate played in nine games a year ago and stopped 13 of the 21 shots she faced.
“Emma is a super-quick and very athletic lefty. She’s just not tested right now. We need to get some games under her belt,” Timchal said.
Navy will get a stiff test right out of the gate, traveling to battle 11th-ranked Duke on Friday afternoon. The Blue Devils, under head coach Kerstin Kimel, have long been one of the top programs in the powerful Atlantic Coast Conference. The road trip continues Sunday at East Carolina.
“It’s an exciting weekend for Navy women’s lacrosse and we’ll learn a lot about this young team through these two games,” Timchal said.
The Mids start the season with four straight road games before hosting Oregon on March 3 in the home opener.
Navy has been picked third in the Patriot League behind six-time champion Loyola and Army. This marks the first time the Black Knighs have ever been voted higher than the Mids in the preseason poll.
“That definitely hit close to home when that came out. We will absolutely use it as motivation,” Ryan said.
Army won the regular season meeting between the schools, but Navy gained revenge by eliminating the archrival from the Patriot League Tournament. This year’s Star game will be played in West Point on April 22.
One week later, Navy closes the regular season against Loyola, which has an NCAA-record 66-game regular season Patriot League winning streak.
Navy at No. 11 Duke
Friday, 2 p.m.
Stream: ACC Network Extra