With the Canisius women’s lacrosse program winning its third-straight MAAC Championship in 2013, the Griffs became the first team in league history to three-peat as champions.
In 2014, the goals are set even higher – to compete with some of the nation’s top teams and not only get to a fourth-straight NCAA Tournament, but to advance.
“A MAAC Championship isn’t really our goal at this point, it’s something we expect of our team each year,” said head coach Scott Teeter. “Our goal this season is to take that next step and advance in the NCAA Tournament.”
The Canisius schedule will certainly test the Griffs ability to do just that, with five of the team’s first six opponents currently receiving votes in the IWLCA coaches poll, including No. 1 North Carolina and No. 2 Syracuse.
“I think our schedule will challenge us, but it will also prepare us for the competition that we’d face in the NCAA Tournament,” Teeter said. "What’s really driving this team though is the opportunity to win a fourth straight MAAC Championship, especially given that we’re hosting it this year. The senior class wants to go out with a perfect record in the conference tournament.”
Junior Tori Quinn
After setting the single-season points record in 2013, junior attack Tori Quinn comes into the 2014 campaign with high expectations after being named the MAAC Preseason Co-Player of the Year. The Griffs will look to fill in additional scoring options around their proven point producer this season.
"There's been great improvements on the offense as a whole over the past six weeks," said assistant coach Rachael Burek. "There's obviously always room for more growth and improvement throughout the season, but I think we're at a good place right now as we get the season started this weekend."
Teeter expects his other three juniors and two sophomores to provide Quinn with additional help around the net and thinks a number of them can challenge for playing time on the Griffs' first line attack.
Megan Cuddy, Jr • 19gp, 23 pts, 20g, 3a, 20gb, 5ct
“Megan Cuddy is really coming into her own off the left wing side. We’re expecting a breakthrough year for her. She was a midfielder that we moved to attack that was putting things together at the end of last year and we’re looking for a big year from her.”
Whitley Perry, Jr • 15gp, 12 pts, 9g, 3a, 3gb, 3ct, 11dc
“Whitley is really working hard on her inside game and backdoor cutting. She’s in a three-person race with Natalie Wagaman and Caroline Odgen for a starting spot and those three push each other every day.”
Tori Quinn, Jr • 19gp, 79 pts. 47g, 32a, 30gb, 15ct, 37dc
“Our attack is obviously going to be led by Tori Quinn. Hopefully she can progress off her Regional All-American season from last year. She has tremendous vision and is our quarterback up there and really knows our systems inside and out.”
Natalie Wagaman, Jr • 12gp, 1 pt, 1 g
“Natalie is really the spark plug energy type player that draws energy to the team and creates for her teammates. She’s right in the mix of things on our attack”
Taylor Giglio, So. • University of Albany
“Taylor will give us a one-two punch with Tori Quinn that we can feed from the left or right side that we’ve been missing in the last few years.”
Caroline Ogden, So. • 19gp, 20 pts, 10g, 10a, 8gb
“Caroline has very good vision from up high and can also play in the post. She’s competing every day and pushing other girls for a spot on our attack.
Sophomore Ashley Bull
The biggest blow from graduation hits the Canisius midfield, with Lindsey Morgan and Morgan Leonard – who combined for 121 points – both graduating. However, the Griffs still have MAAC Preseason co-Player of the Year Maria Kotas roaming both ends.
“We’ve got some holes in our midfield that we’re looking to replace. We lost Lindsey Morgan and Morgan Leonard to graduation and those are big shoes to fill. People were always telling me that I had the three best midfielders in our conference, but we lost two of them. But now it’s Maria Kotas’ show."
Canisius also moved Preseason All-MAAC player Ashley Bull up to the midfield from defense.
Maria Kotas, Sr. • 19gp, 67 pts, 42g, 25a, 46gb, 21ct, 55dc
“We’re expecting big things from Maria. It’s her show and we expect her to step up, take the bull by the horns and be that dynamic player in the midfield that we’ve seen her be.”
Tori Greco, Jr. • 19gp, 5 pts, 4g, 1a, 2gb, 1ct, 8dc
“Tori is all about intensity and she tends to bring it up in our practices. She’s someone who is competing for a spot in the starting lineup for us.”
Kali Baird, So. • 12gp, 2 pts, 1g, 1a, 1ct
"After being with us last season, transferring out and then transferring back, Kali is someone who will also compete for time, she just has to get back in the swing of things. She needs to get herself back in game awareness shape and once that comes she’ll be ready to go.”
Ashley Bull, So. • 18gp, 2 pts, 1g, 1a, 37gb, 8ct, 8dc
“Ashley has the ability to take the whole sport of women’s lacrosse to a whole new level. You’re going to see things from her this year that you don’t see too often in women’s lacrosse, so we’re looking forward to her changing the game.”
Cody Kucharski, So. • 5gp, 1gb, 1ct
“Cody had a bit of a difficult transition her freshman year, but now she’s right in the mix competing for a starting spot on the midfield, so we’re hoping that she can have a successful sophomore year.”
Brenna Murray, So. • 17gp, 2 pts, 2g, 6gb, 5dc, 2ct
"One thing that we need to work on is draw controls, it was an issue of ours from last year and something we need to focus on heading into this year and that’s an area where Brenna can help us. Brenna needs to continue the success she had last year with her All-Tournament Team honors."
Ashley Heisler, Fr. • Chilliwack, B.C.
"Ashley is also competing for time on that first unit and I’ve never had a player in my program that could play as fast as she does."
Rachel Toole, Fr. • Minoa, N.Y.
“Rachel has unbelievable stick skills and she’s starting to adjust to the speed of Division I lacrosse.”
Samantha Bianchi, Fr. • Irondequoit, N.Y.
“Sami is a true low defender who we’re converting to play in the midfield. She’s someone who has really impressed the coaching staff in the last three or four weeks.”
Senior Gabby Kotas
One year removed from posting the best goals against average in program history, the Canisius defense returns everyone who made seven or more appearances and adds three freshmen.
“We’re much older than we have been in years past. We return almost all of our defenders from last year and we’re really senior and junior loaded," Teeter said. "I’m very excited with what we have coming back and we’re challenging them with new things and throwing different systematic things at them.”
Those new systems will likely be challenged early in the season as the Griffs' kick things off against some of the most prolific offenses in the nation in Syracuse and North Carolina.
"The defense is coming together and they're really starting to improve upon those systems that we're putting in," said assistant coach Lindsay Rogers. "I think we're ready to go for the offense."
Ari Anderson, Sr. • 5gp
“Ari keeps plugging away. She’s continuing to learn our systems and is someone who will really add depth to our defense.”
Gabby Kotas, Sr. • 19gp, 31gb, 2dc, 14ct
"Gabe Kotas is leading the way for us on defense. As a senior, she’s one of the people we’re counting on."
Stephanie Schmalz, Sr. • 15gp, 2gb, 1ct
"Steph is another senior for us who will give us good defensive support and be a leader."
Taylor Smith, Sr. • 7gp, 4gb, 1ct
"Taylor is another person who brings leadership and depth to our defense."
Casey Depauw, Jr. • 24gb, 4dc, 6ct
"Casey is one of our leaders, she’s a team captain this year and we’re expecting a lot out of her."
Sami Franco, So. • 19 gp, 21gb, 6dc, 7ct
"Sami got a lot of playing time last year and really excelled in the role that she was given and will have more of an expanded role this year."
Alexis Roskovich, So. • 10gp, 1gb, 3dc, 1ct
"Rosko is a big presence out there and she’s someone that is really developing into a nice player."
Janae Guy, Fr. • Canandaigua, N.Y.
"Janae uses her basketball skills wisely. She’s still trying to figure out the complete Division I game, but it’s coming. It’s expanding every day and she’s starting to impress us coaches in practice."
Shannon Pelitera, Fr. • Pendleton, N.Y.
“Pelitera is another one who we’re sort of converting into a defender rather than playing on both ends. She’ll be a great matchup player for us. She has good size and is very athletic that we will use to give a certain assignment."
Junior Kayla Scully
Canisius returns two of its three net minders from 2013, including 2013 MAAC Defensive Player of the Year Kayla Scully.
“It’d be easy for me to hand over the starting job to Scully given how she played for us last year," Teeter said. "But we’ve got two very good options in net and can go either way. It’s a great problem to have as a coach.”
Kayla Scully, Jr. • 18gp, 7.81 gaa, .515 sv pct.
"Scully is a true gamer. The best thing I notice about her is that she came in ready to play this year. It was clear that she’d taken her game to the next level and really worked on her weaknesses."
Claudia Coleates, So. • 6gp, 12.99 gaa, .436 sv pct.
“Claudia is someone we can’t take for granted. She’s the one who pushed Scully to where she was at last year and she’s continuing to push and developing her every day.”