Season Preview: Experienced Mountain Hawks Excited for 2021 Season

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The last time the Lehigh women’s lacrosse team left the field, it had defeated Davidson for the fourth time in a row on March 9. The Mountain Hawks were building 6-2 with a lot of excitement.

Then the pandemic hit.

Now, 348 days later, the 2021 Mountain Hawks are eager to pick up where they left off.

The list includes three familiar faces who are still in business. Sondra Dickey, Alexandra Ladda and Autumn Ryan have all returned for the fifth time and enrolled in graduate school.

“We’re very excited to have these three women back on our program,” said Lehigh head coach Jill Redfern. “You are the main difference maker for our team.”

After the shortened 2020 season, Dickey became only the second athlete in program history to be placed on the Tewaaraton Award Watch List (along with Lauren Dykstra). Dickey starts 2021 with impressive career numbers of 161 goals, 49 assists, 108 ground balls, 199 draw controls and 77 generated sales. The draw checksum is a program record while it is fifth in goals and sixth in points.

Someone else who was very familiar with the scoresheet was Gabby Schneider, who jumped into the national scene as a freshman with 20 goals and 21 assists in eight games. Her 41 points were second among the newcomers nationwide, while she was seventh in the assists.

Overall, the Mountain Hawks give back their top seven goalscorers from a season ago.

“Our offense has so many weapons; it is very balanced,” said Redfern. “We had some great first year performances last year and we expect this class to continue on the same path.”

Together with Schneider’s 41 points, Katia Carnevale was third on the team with 28 points (22 goals, six assists), while Emma Eberhardt was fourth with 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists). All appear to be key components of Lehigh’s attack force in 2021.

Dickey leads the midfield, while seniors Hannah Cermack and Cecily Redfern and junior Maggie Kelly bring a wealth of experience and production. Cermack scored seven goals, seven assists, 18 groundballs, 25 draw controls and nine generated sales last season, while Redfern scored 11 goals, one assist, 11 groundballs and the team’s top 42 draw controls. Included was a school record of 14 draw controls against La Salle. Kelly has now published 14 points and 39 draw controls in her first 24 career games.

“Our midfielders offer our team athleticism and depth,” said Jill Redfern. “They all contribute differently and together, they will play a major role in our success.”

Ladda is a four-year-old starter and winner of the 2019 All-Patriot League and helps anchor the defense. Two more starters return in the juniors Jenna Garden (12 groundballs, nine generated sales in 2020) and Emma McGillis (eight groundballs, five generated sales), both of whom started as newbies from day one.

“We’re bringing back an experienced defensive group that includes seasoned goalkeepers,” said Redfern.

Most experienced goalkeeper is another starter from day one in Senior Samantha Sagi. She enters 2021 with a career save percentage of 46.7 and a record 27-17. She finished strong last year, stopping 12 of the 18 shots she had sent in each of the last two games.

More important than any statistic is the excitement of being together again and sharing every moment.

“Our team makes optimal use of every training opportunity,” said Redfern. “They show mental toughness every day. The coaching team is very proud of their resilience and we are happy that they compete against each other.”

The season opener is planned for Saturday around Drexel at 12 noon on ESPN +. Lehigh Athletics is not allowed to be present due to the pandemic.

After three non-league competitions, all against schools in the Philadelphia area, the Patriot League is set to kick off Saturday, March 13th at American.

Gallery: (2-18-2021) 2021 Lacrosse Preseason Practice for Women

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