In just their fourth season as a varsity program, the Rollins women's lacrosse team has proven that they are true competitors within the Division II realm. The Tars exploded back into the IWLCA DII national poll this season, and spent the final nine weeks ranked within the top ten.
Under the tutelage of Inside Lacrosse's Dani Award Coach of the Year Dennis Short, the Tars racked up a record of 13-4, setting a new program best in wins in a season. Rollins also notched a new program high as they found themselves ranked seventh on the national poll the week of May 9, marking their highest ranking in program history.
The Tars took on a demanding schedule that squared them off against national contenders, North Region standouts, and South Region rivals, culminating in Rollins' 13-9 upset victory over then No. 3 Limestone to cap off their regular season slate on May 7.
Rollins found themselves ranked nationally not only on the poll, but in statistical categories, as well. The team was fifth in scoring offense with 16.71 goals per game, draw controls per game (16.41), ground balls per game (27.41), and scoring margin (8.53), while also coming in seventh in scoring defense (8.18), and ninth in points with 391 on the season.
The Tars opened their season with an exhibition game at ESPN's Wide World of Sports against the US U-19 Team on January 29, playing in the US Lacrosse Champion Challenge event. Rollins then took on Hartwick College in a scrimmage on February 11, and made easy work of their Division III opponent.
With plenty of preseason practice under their belts, the Tars took to the road for their season opener, matching up against Converse and St. Andrews on February 18 and 19. Rollins made an instant impact on the field, outscoring their first two opponents 42-5, and dominating their challengers in all areas of the field.
The Tars returned home and had a quick break before their home opener where they squared off against three-time national champion and top-ranked Adelphi University on February 22. Despite scoring the first goal against the Panthers and putting up a good fight, the Tars eventually fell to Adelphi, 21-9.
Still receiving votes on the IWLCA DII National Poll, Rollins hosted Notre Dame College (OH) on February 28, making easy work of the Falcons with a 23-5 victory over their regional opponent to close out the month of February.
A two-game road trip to North Carolina got the month of March started. Rollins picked up two important regional victories to advance to 5-1 on the season, defeating Pfeiffer University 16-11, and then silencing Queens University of Charlotte in an impressive 18-8 victory.
The Tars returned to Winter Park and hosted Indiana University of Pennsylvania, holding their opponent to just four goals while they posted 20 of their own on March 11. Riding a four-game win streak, and still receiving votes on the poll, Rollins squared off against then ninth-ranked Stonehill College in a key North/South showdown.
Rollins held onto a 7-6 lead with 20 minutes remaining in the contest, but were unable to hold onto the lead as the Skyhawks handed the Tars their second loss of the season with a final score of 11-9.
The Tars finally cracked the top-ten on March 21, earning a nod at No. 10 and marking the first time Rollins held a spot on the poll since 2009. Making the most of their national ranking, Rollins hosted Erskine College on March 22, defeating the Flying Fleet 23-2 to close out March with an overall record of 7-2.
Rollins climbed to ninth on the poll and took to the road for a challenging three-game weekend. Setting their sights on then second-ranked Lock Haven on April 1, the Tars took the field looking for an upset. Rollins held on tight against the Lady Eagles and entered into the half with the score knotted at 5-5, but Lock Haven was able to capitalize on more second period opportunities, defeating the Tars 12-7.
Despite the loss, the Tars closed out the weekend with two important regional victories over Edinboro and Millersville before returning home for a two-game home stand.
Rollins advanced to eighth on the poll before matching up against Regis University and Adams State at home. Regis gave the Tars a run for their money, but Rollins came out on top with a 17-15 victory over the Rangers, and then held Adams State to just one goal in an 18-1 win over the Grizzlies.
With just three games remaining in their 2011 slate, The Tars set their scopes on then sixth-ranked West Chester. Making the trip up to Pennsylvania once again, Rollins tested the Golden Rams in every way, but fell to West Chester 15-11 on April 1.
A quick 22-7 victory over Lenoir-Rhyne University on May 4 left the Tars sitting with an overall mark of 12-4 entering into the most important game of their season as the then ninth-ranked Tars took on third-ranked and undefeated Limestone College on May 7.
In a hard-fought first half, Rollins found themselves trailing by one with a score of 6-5 at the break, but the Tars bounced back in the second stanza, outscoring the Saints 8-3 to pull out a 13-9 upset victory over their South Region rival. The Tars snapped Limestone's 17-game undefeated season, and closed out their regular season slate with an overall record of 13-4.
The upset launched Rollins into their highest ranking yet, placing them seventh on the poll before returning back to eighth in the final poll of the year.
With an incredibly stacked roster this season, Rollins saw a total of 15 out of 19 field players score a goal, with 16 registering a point. In cage, the Tars' goalie duo of Elyse De Lisle and Rachael Kokomoor combined for a goals against average of just 8.18, and a total of 110 saves.
Led by 2011 IWLCA Division II Second Team All-American Marissa Giannerini, the Tars were a threat in all areas of the field. Giannerini picked up First Team IWLCA South Region honors, and a Synapse Sports Second Team All-American selection before earning her third consecutive All-America nod. Concluding the season with a team high 47 goals, the Baltimore, Md. native tacked on 14 assists for a team high 61 points, and added 26 ground balls, 14 draw controls, and 13 caused turnovers.
Sophomore Sophie Townsend had a breakout season, finishing second on the team in goals scored with 37. The Ocean City, Md. native added five assists for 42 points, collected a team third best 40 ground balls, and was third on the team in draw controls with 43.
Erica Pagliarulo commanded the midfield from the center circle, winning a team high 56 draw controls, and finishing the season third on the team in goals (34), and second on the team with 47 points thanks to her 13 assists. The Winchester, Mass. native earned Second Team IWLCA All-Region honors for her efforts in her sophomore campaign, adding 37 ground balls and 14 caused turnovers to her total.
Senior Katy Tyszko finished her season tied for third on the team in overall points, and second in assists, notching 27 goals, 15 assists, and 42 points. The Clermont, Fla. native was a silent, but commanding force around the arc, and was a key component to the attacking unit this season.
Leading the way on the assist board was freshman Caroline Lamere, who dished out 17, and added 21 goals for 38 points in her first season. A local product from Longwood, Fla., Lamere slowly made her presence known throughout the season, and earned a spot on the starting lineup after an authoritative showing against Millersville with five goals and one assist. She also notched an impressive 100% success rate on free-position shots, scoring on all eight of her attempts.
Five more Tars finished the season with double-digit goal totals, as Sarah Ann Showell, Cat Kelley, Kelly Thayer, Anna Townsend, and Ginevra Czech combined for 95 goals, 29 assists, and 124 overall points. With versatility and the most depth the program has seen, the Tars were never lacking in scoring strength.
Junior Tori Snow finished her third season with impressive numbers yet again, winning 47 draw controls, good for second on the team, and winning 37 ground balls. The Marblehead, Mass. native also caused eight turnovers, and was a key factor in the Tars' midfield success as they posted an 86 percent success rate on clears. Snow added nine goals and six assists to her stat line, earning 15 points on the season.
Tricia Grant had a successful season in the midfield despite battling an injury mid-season. A native of Dover, Del., Grant logged five goals, three assists, 13 ground balls, three draw controls, and two caused turnovers.
Newcomer Katie Palasz made a seamless transition into the Tars' system, and became an instant threat in all areas of the field as she used her speed, agility, and natural game sense to become an impenetrable force. As a defender, Palasz notched seven goals and two assists, good for nine points. The Granby, Mass. native led the team in caused turnovers with 22, and was second on the team with 44 ground balls. She tacked on 28 draw controls, and was vital to the Tars in transition.
Making her way back onto the field after two seasons away, Courtney Bianculli made an immediate impact on defense, leading the team with 47 ground balls, and causing 21 turnovers, good for second best on the team. Another steadfast defender, Bianculli's speed in the midfield was unrivaled, and her contribution on clears helped the Tars post their most successful clear percentage yet. The Setauket, N.Y. native added two assists and 12 draw controls to her stat line, and earned Second Team IWLCA All-Region honors for her efforts.
The Tars' stingy defense was directed by veterans Suzanne Gainey, Lacey Goodwyn, and Steph Wiedenhofer. The trio combined for 59 ground balls, 16 draw controls, and 26 caused turnovers, with Gainey adding a goal and assist to her season total. With support from Annie Koeblitz and Ariana Louder, along with Palasz and Bianculli, the defensive squad was impenetrable and provided their opponents with stiff competition all season.
The final stand after Rollins' steadfast defense was De Lisle in goal, who held a commanding presence despite her true freshman status. The local product from Windermere, Fla. logged in 865 minutes between the posts, making 104 saves and posting an 8.88 goals against average, good for eighth in the nation.
With a stacked roster full of immense depth and talent, the Rollins women's lacrosse team has proven to the Division II lacrosse community that they are a force to be reckoned with. After spending nine weeks within the top-ten on the IWLCA national poll, Rollins finished the season ranked eighth, marking the first time the Tars have finished a season ranked nationally.
Despite the loss of three key players in Giannerini, Tyszko, and Goodwyn this season, the Rollins women's lacrosse team has plenty of returning talent to look forward to in 2012. With the addition of yet another solid recruiting class for 2012, Short is confident that the Tars will continue to grow and experience plenty more success.