University of Maine at Farmington’s Sam Cross charges down field in a game last season. (Jeff Lamb photo)

The University of Maine at Farmington’s strong communication skills and team synergy puts women’s lacrosse coach Beth Lebel’s mind at ease.

Those two positives also allow the third-year coach to focus on improving the Beavers’ offense at the collegiate level. She added “tough defense, clear completion, and a patient offense” are all factors for a successful season.

“We will be younger on offense but waiting for the right opportunity instead of the first option will be key,” Lebel said. “Intangibly, composure and consistent effort will be imperative to our success. 

“We will need to limit our turnovers in the most dangerous parts of the field and capitalize on our possessions.”

There are four veterans whose leadership skills could also be a key to this season’s success in the North Atlantic Conference.

“While Sam Cross (senior, defense) is primarily a defender for our team, we will utilize her strength and quickness on the draw,” Lebel said. “Heather Boland (senior goalkeeper) thrives in a competitive environment. She has stepped up to lead our first-year goalkeepers and she will anchor our defense.

“Isabella Monbouquette (sophomore, midfield) sees the field well and is almost always an option in transition. She knows when she has a lane to the cage and isn’t afraid to take it. In her second year as a midfielder for us, we need Keilly Lynch (junior, midfield) on the draw circle, in transition, and on both ends of the field.”

A trio of newcomers are expected to fill the voids and inject new life into the team.

“Kaya Backman (attack) provides composure and positive energy on the attacking side and we will look to her to help us push the pace or settle,” Lebel said. “With her speed and ability to read the game, Azure Illiano (middle, defense) should put up some numbers for us this season in ground balls and caused turnovers. 

“Lydia Wasina (goalie) brings a lot of enthusiasm and will use her quick hands and solid communication in her minutes between the pipes.”

Of course, Lebel has been sizing up the coming season.

She said Canton and Husson were picked to finish first and second, respectively, in a preseason poll voted on by conference coaches. 

“We will look to battle with both of those teams as well as the rest in the NAC,” Lebel said. “We’ve focused a lot of our preseason on our values and what they look like in action. We’re constantly holding ourselves to a high but attainable standard.

“Our outlook is positive. The first goal is to make playoffs and then see what we can do from there.”


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