If anyone thought the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team would stay the same after the Alexis Venechanos era, they were proved wrong on Thursday.
New UMass coach Angela McMahon started building the squad for the future, as she signed 10 players to a National Letter of Intent for the 2012 season.
McMahon wasn’t modest in her assessment of the Class of 2015.
“The 2012 freshmen class is one of the strongest groups we have had in program history,” McMahon stated in a UMass Athletics release. “They will add incredible depth to our midfield and outstanding talent in goal.”
For a Minutewomen squad which repeated as Atlantic 10 champions last year, the freshmen surely needed to embody everything the Maroon and White feature, according to McMahon.
“These players truly embody what UMass lacrosse is all about, and we look forward to welcoming them on campus next fall,” McMahon said.
On Nov. 18, McMahon signed 10 players to NLIs, which did not include a single Massachusetts resident. The 10 players spread across all areas of the field and should help the team build for upcoming seasons.
The lineup consists of three Connecticut natives in Ellie Bullitt, Morgan Walker and Lauren Freeland, all of whom are midfielders.
Bullitt has been an all-around player in her high school career, as she competes in lacrosse, soccer and hockey. As a captain of her hockey team, she received high accolades, as she was named as an honorable mention to the All-FCIAC team.
Walker earned All-Conference and All-Academic honors for her high school as a midfielder for her lacrosse squad.
Freeland, as an All-FCIAC Second Team player, pushed New Canaan High School to its first ever state championship. Additionally, she pushed her team to the FCIAC Championship.
Other new midfielders include Jessica Daut, who earned 2010 Honorable Mention All-American recognition.
Maine-native Mia Rapolla also will join the Minutewomen. Rapolla was a two-time All-Maine selection and earned an MVP award with Gorham High School.
Rounding out the midfielders is Amy Tiernan, a four-year letter-winner in lacrosse, basketball and swimming. As a lacrosse player, she was awarded Academic All-America honors.
McMahon also signed two new attackers for the coming years.
One of the top attackers signed looks to be Cassie Raglan, a member of the Canadian Under-19 National Team, which is set to compete in the 2011 World Cup. An Ontario-native, Raglan was a three-year starting attack/midfielder for the U-19 Kawartha Lacrosse Club.
With her on the attack is Erin Riley, who boasts 167 goals and 46 assists through her high school days, for which she started all four years.
The Minutewomen will bring in one new goaltender next year. UMass always boasted a strong goalkeeper under Venachanos, so Rachel Vallarelli might have found a stronger school to build her game.
Vallarelli is a member of 2010 U-19 U.S. National Team, which will also compete in the 2011 World Cup. Additionally, Vallarelli earned an ESPN Rise Top 10 goalie selection. Her career numbers boast 333 saves in three seasons, with 176 stops coming last season, which earned her the second-highest standing ever for the School of the Holy Child in Rye, N.Y.
Herb Scribner can be reached at email@example.com.