La Croix is out, lacrosse is in

A preview of the upcoming Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse seasons

With January coming to a close, the regular season for both Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse is right around the corner. 

Before you head out to Jennings Family Stadium to cheer on the Captains, here are some things to know about both sides and their upcoming seasons.

The Women’s Lacrosse team has a tough schedule on the books ahead of them highlighted by matchups against five different teams featured in the NCAA tournament. 

Included in those contests is a battle against the national runner-up, Salisbury University, in the final home game of the regular season. Beginning the season with their first game on the road, the Captains will be in action for the first time at Jennings Family Stadium when they take on Roanoke on Feb. 22.

Leading the squad this year are three team captains, Junior #13 Gracie Sanders, Senior #21 Sam Wettengel and Sophomore #28 Riley Rafterry-Lee. 

Only missing the starting 12 on two occasions, Rafterry-Lee has been a mainstay in the defensive zone throughout the majority of the season. One of her standout moments on the field last season was causing four turnovers against Messiah en route to a 16-6 victory for the Captains.

Sanders has started in 21 of the last 21 matchups for the Captains and 30 of her 34 total collegiate games. 

This is the second season where she has been named team captain. Last season, Sanders netted 15 goals, including a hat trick against Roanoke, a contest which took place in Puerto Rico during spring break. In addition to the offensive threat she brings, she also displays a hunger for the ball, chasing down ground balls across all zones on the field, collecting 26 in total last year.

Continuing with the offensive threat that the Captains bring, another essential name to mention is #15 Cat Leighty. 

Part of what makes her attack so dangerous is her ability to either fire off a shot, which ends up on cage nine times out of ten, or thread the needle between a web of sticks and defenders to find a teammate in a prime position to score. 

Leighty registered 67 total points last season, the most in program history by a sophomore, by means of 33 goals and 34 assists.

The all-time saves leader with 531 career saves, #35 Kaitlin Ready, is returning to the squad for her senior year. Averaging 9.65 saves per contest, Ready was often prepared for whatever the opposition would throw her way.

Switching gears, heading into the season, the Men’s Lacrosse team is ranked at number 13 in the nation according to Inside Lacrosse and their preseason poll. 

In addition to the Captains, York College and Salisbury University, fellow conference members are inside the top 20, specifically at eight and two respectively. Last season, Christopher Newport was ranked number one in the nation in caused turnovers per game. 

Like the women’s program, the men also begin their regular season on the road against Washington College (Md.) and Roanoke College before coming to Jennings Family Stadium for their home opener against Hampden-Sydney College. Leading the side this season are the team captains and a trio of USILA All-Americans in #1 Scott McAneny, #6 Dylan Rice and #33 Max Wayne. 

These men are the only players in program history to earn that title. The three players contribute to both ends of the field contrasting nicely against each other. 

On the offensive end, there was Rice ripping rope with goal after goal and back on defense, Wayne shutting down attackers at almost every opportunity and, on the rare occasion that the ball did squeak by him, McAneny is there to make the save.

Rice has been a standout on the field since he laced up his cleats for the Captains two years ago when he rattled off five goals in his game for CNU against Washington and Lee. Since then, out of 39 games, he has been held without a goal just three times. 

With over 100 goals in his first two seasons, Rice is already third on the all time list for both goals and points. Currently he shares the record for most goals in a single season, 56 in 2018 alongside Will Geise.

Touted as one of the most talented goalies that head coach Mikey Thompson has ever coached, McAneny is back for his senior season. With nearly 2,000 minutes played and 382 saves, he has undoubtedly made his home between the pipes. 

He holds the single season record with 243 saves last year and is currently third all time with his number of saves. 

Matchups against six teams who played in the NCAA tournament last season and seven inside the top 20, McAneny and the rest of the Captains will have their hands full as they look to improve on last season and climb their way to the top of the rankings.

~Austin Urch, Staff Writer~

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