The Oglethorpe women's lacrosse team is set to make its return to the field this weekend, when they host Truett McConnell Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. on the Oglethorpe Track and Field. The Stormy Petrels return four players from the 2016 squad, and feature a new head coach, as Shawna Block will be in her first season at the helm of the program.
"I'm excited to be a part of this program," said Block, "and I look forward to getting started this season!"
The Petrels will feature a solid group of returners in senior midfielders Juliana Altman and Michelle Shramek, and sophomore midfielders Caroline Chamberlain and Madison Goss. Chamberlain and Goss will provide some needed experience in the midfield. Goss scored 12 goals over the course of her freshman season, grabbing 16 ground balls and 13 draw controls, as well. Chamberlain scored 3 goals for her part during the 2016 season.
Altman and Shramek will return as previous All-SAA honorees, and will serve as team captains this season. Shramek earned All-SAA Second Team accolades in 2015 and took back-to-back All-SAA Honorable Mention in 2013 and 2014. Altman garnered her first career conference honors with an All-SAA Second Team mark in 2016.
Altman scored 46 goals on the year in 2016, putting her fifth in the league in the category. She finished second in the league in free position goals, with 10 on 18 shots. Her 94 total shots put her in a tie for third while her 42 ground balls put her in a tie for fourth in the conference. She also caused 27 turnovers on the season, putting her in a fourth-place tie in that category, as well.
In 2015, Shramek finished with 53 ground balls and 45 caused turnovers on the season, both of those marks putting her tops in the league. She came in at sixth in the nation in caused turnovers with 3.21 per game and collected a whopping 11 ground balls in a game against Hendrix that season, and her 18 free position goals on the season placed her first in the SAA, as well, while her 82 shots on goal put her fourth.
The Petrels will also bring a bevy of newcomers into the fold, starting with goalie Jordan Chandler. She will be joined by freshman defenders Dreshona Mapps-Whitmore, Danielle Fuller and Marisa Hall. All have shown outstanding promise in the preseason.
"I'm happy with the way that Jordan has come in and shown a strong grasp of the basics at her position," said Block. "She's been thriving in practice and getting better every day. The same is the case with Dreshona, Danielle and Marisa. I'm looking forward to seeing how they work as a unit on the field."
"That group has been moving the ball very well in practice," said Block. "Elena has an extremely powerful shot, while Jill is extremely accurate. We call Samantha a ninja, as she doesn't say much, but frequently pops up in the right place to score a goal."
"Balie has a nice aggressive style of play, and Autumn is fairly new to the sport, but is picking it up extremely quickly," said Block.
The SAA will once again be a challenge for the Petrels, as Sewanee, Rhodes, Birmingham-Southern and Berry all will feature excellent teams. However, the Petrels will use their non-conference schedule as a means to prepare for the conference slate. After the opener against Truett McConnell, the Petrels will travel to Demorest to take on Piedmont and continue on the road out-of-state to go against Methodist and Huntingdon. Oglethorpe will also play in non-conference games against Ferrum, Framingham State, Columbia (South Carolina), Montevallo, Emmanuel and LaGrange.
"Overall, this is just a great group of athletes with varied experiences," said Block, "and I'm looking forward to watching them come together as a team on the field. I'm optimistic about this group, and hopefully we can move up the conference standings a bit as the season goes on."