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February 22, 2002
Vol. 43 No. 16

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Ranieri looks to lead Crusaders to title

Eying the goal
The Crusader/file photo
EYING THE GOAL - Senior attack Katie Sonnefeld looks to put a shot on the opposing goal during action last season as junior attack Kat Geiger looks on. Sonnefeld was a second-team Commonwealth Conference All-Star and helped the team to its first conference championship.
The Susquehanna women's lacrosse team will have several key returning players and two new coaches as it prepares for what it hopes to be another competitive season.

Four Middle Atlantic Conference Commonwealth Conference All-Stars will be back in the lineup this year for the Crusaders. Senior attack Krista O'Brien and junior goalie Giulia Umile both earned first-team honors last season, and senior Katie Sonnefeld and sophomore Kristin Calabree received second-team billing in the Commonwealth.

O'Brien leads the program with 129 career goals, including a record 51 last season, and 173 career points. Umile's save percentage ranked among the nation's leaders last season and she received the top goalie ranking in Division III on lax.com. She also managed to break her own record for saves in a season.

"Krista [O'Brien] has been a high scorer in the past and I believe she has the potential to continue doing that," rookie Head Coach Deb Ranieri said. "We're working on every single person learning every position and getting the best from each person on the team, so we don't have to depend upon one person to do the whole job. It's going to be a team effort."

The team said it hopes to remain successful as it tries for its fifth-straight season with double-digit wins in the short history of the program. Last season, the team finished 12-5 and won its first ever regular-season conference championship. A 47-18 record over the past four seasons has placed Susquehanna in the last three MAC championship games.

"I've coached against some of the teams in the conference and some on the schedule," Ranieri said. "We will have a specific game plan that we'll stick with. Drew, Rowan and several other teams are going to be tough, but we'll be prepared."

Susquehanna will have a new assistant coach in Drew Bauer to accompany Ranieri, who had been the assistant lacrosse coach at The College of New Jersey since 1998. During her three-season tenure with the Lions, the team won the NCAA Division III championship. Earlier in her career, Ranieri was an assistant coach at Lafayette College from 1990-91 and also head lacrosse coach at Perkiomen School from 1993-98.

"I've coached for 10 years now, so I will combine the best of all of those experiences," Ranieri said. "There are definite strengths that I plan to pull from each team that I've coached or been a part of previously. That's what I bring to this program here."

Bauer also joins the team this year. Bauer and Ranieri both graduated from the same high school. For the past 10 years, he has been coaching youth lacrosse in the West Chester area. He brings a strong defensive knowledge to the coaching staff.

"For me to be able to hire someone who knows how to play defense, knows how to coach a goalie and someone who I can trust to be at the other end of the field was important," Ranieri said.

So far, Ranieri said she is pleased with the progress the team has been making throughout the first three weeks of preseason.

"From the first day to the second day of practice, the team saw big changes in themselves and I saw big changes," Ranieri said. "There were a couple of days where they struggled here and there, but they got beyond that and now they can see the whole picture. I am really happy with their progress and I think they are too."

The team will travel to Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in Florida over Spring Break. The Crusaders will get to test what they have learned in preseason as they face Division I Villanova and 2001 Final Four Division III participant Mary Washington in two scrimmages. After returning to Susquehanna, the team will travel to Dickinson on March 12 for its first regular season game.

SPORTS HEADLINES

Crusaders nearly upset Jays

Swimmers finish year at MACs

Late collapse leads to loss on road

Softball looks to defend crown

Ranieri looks to lead Crusaders to title

Miller predicts success for young squad

Zook leads young Crusaders

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