The Oglethorpe women's lacrosse team returns to the field Tuesday night, as they immediately hit the road in conference play to take on Berry at 7 p.m. from Mount Berry. The Stormy Petrels return off of a season in which they finished sixth in the SAA, advancing to the SAA Tournament for the first time since it was reduced to six teams, and finished with a 6-12 overall record, marking the most wins in the history of the young program. They'll look to build on that during the upcoming 2018 season.
"I think this team is really excited to hit the field," said Brittney Hughes, the team's interim head coach. "They're excited to play and are working super hard. We've got a nice mix of returners and newcomers, and it's been fun to see how the newcomers are incorporating into the group while the returners are continuing to improve their games. I'm pleased with how things are going as we wrap up our preseason preparation and turn the corner into the regular season."
The team will be led by junior midfielders Caroline Chamberlain and Madison Goss. Both have been essential 2-year members of the program so far, and have provided excellent leadership for the unit over their two-plus years on campus.
The defense will feature a young group, but it's a very athletic group that's made big strides as the preseason has gone on. The group will feature sophomore Dreshona Mapps-Whitmore, who earned All-SAA Honorable Mention during her freshman campaign. She finished 12th in the league in caused turnovers in 2017, recording 23 of them. Sophomore Autumn Johnson will also return from last year's squad, while junior Sedaries Mathis will join freshmen Emilee Heffner and Piriya Sureshkumar to round out the unit.
Sophomore Jordan Chandler will return at goalie for the second consecutive season. She played every minute in goal for Oglethorpe during the 2017 season, and recorded 158 saves in the process.
The midfield group is working hard and should provide good two-way play for the Petrels. Chamberlain and Goss return from outstanding seasons, as does reigning All-SAA Honorable Mention selection Jill Czaplinski. Also joining the unit will be junior Precious Buddington, sophomore Jalisa Kassam, and freshmen Rebecca Bryant and Megan Heintz.
On the attacking side, the unit will feature a number of different combinations as they look to find favorable matchups against specific opponents. Sophomore Elena Gierok will command the spot behind the goal within the offense as the Petrels look to implement a new system this year. It'll be her job to orchestrate the offense from that position, and she'll look to find gaps within the opponent's defensive unit.
The Petrels get their season started Tuesday night at Berry, and they'll return to the Oglethorpe Track and Field for their home opener Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. against Tennessee Wesleyan. In-state opponent Piedmont comes in on Feb. 20, and the month will wrap up with a road trip to Danville, Kentucky, to take on Centre and a home contest against North Carolina Wesleyan. Three of Oglethorpe's four games in March will be hosted by the Petrels at the Oglethorpe Track and Field, as they'll take on Sewanee, Brenau and Huntingdon on March 3, 6 and 17, respectively, before rounding out the month with a trip to LaGrange. A couple of SAA road contests get the month of April started, as the team will visit Birmingham-Southern and Rhodes on April 7 and 8, respectively. The Petrels will then round out their regular season with a visit from Hendrix on April 14.
"We had the best season in program history last year," said Hughes, "and this group is really excited about continuing the growth from last year and continuing to move the program forward."