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Women's lacrosse set for big things in 2011 season

Briana Gross '11 is one member of a strong veteran group determined to lift the women's lacrosse team to a big season.

LEWISTON, Maine -- It's time for the Bates women's lacrosse team to return to action this week, and the Bobcats are primed for a big year, judging both by past performance and by the excellent overall conditioning of the team, as reported by sixth-year head coach Brett Allen.

Wins over Middlebury and Colby and a berth in the NESCAC Women's Lacrosse Championship were among the highlights for a 2010 season that the team hopes was a building year toward even better things.

The Bobcats have a strong core of veteran returners, led by All-American junior midfielder Jenna Dannis (Milford, N.H.) and her two fellow IWLCA All-Region selections from last season, junior attacker Joan O'Neill (Westwood, Mass.) and sophomore defender Linnea Fulton (Bristol, R.I.). O'Neill was among the leading scorers in the country, with 38 goals and 21 assists. Dannis led the team in ground balls (35), draw controls (51) and caused turnovers (23), while ranking second on the team in scoring with 25 goals and four assists. Fulton finished the season ranked second on the team in ground balls with 23, and was third on the team in both draw controls (14) and caused turnovers (16).

Four seniors also return who, says Allen, "have played and will continue to play significant roles on all areas of the field." Mara Krueger (St. Louis, Mo.), entering her fourth season Bates' full-time starting goalie, is co-captain with defender Ingrid Knowles (Cumberland, Maine), while fellow seniors Briana Gross (Andover, Mass.) and Emily Howe (Carlisle, Mass.) combined for 24 goals last year.

In addition to a strong, nine-player rookie class, from whom Allen expects some major contributions, Bates returns quite a few talented juniors and sophomores. Sophomore attacker Jenn Brallier (Chambersburg, Pa.) posted a strong freshman season in 2010, not only scoring 18 goals but doing an excellent job on draw controls, too. Other key returns include junior Lindsay Thompson (Ipswich, Mass.), junior Maggie Reilly (Wellesley, Mass.), junior Caroline Pierce (Weston, Mass.) and sophomore defender Erin Harmon (Annapolis, Md.).

Bates plays its first game on Thursday, Feb. 24, at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in Claremont, Calif. The host Athenas are one of seven NCAA tournament teams from the 2010 season that Bates will take on this season, including three NESCAC opponents.

The Bobcats then open their home schedule on Saturday, March 12, with their first game on its new home venue, the newly renovated and resurfaced Garcelon Field, against rival Middlebury.