When 11th-year head coach Scott Teeter first started to shape the Golden Griffin women's lacrosse program, he envisioned starting a powerhouse program at Canisius.
The program reached its first goal of a MAAC Championship with a title in 2011. The Griffs then proved that they weren't a one-year wonder and backed it up with a second-straight title in 2012.
In 2013, Teeter wants to the Griffs to go one step further. This season, Canisius has a chance to become the first team in the conference's history to win three-straight MAAC Championships and after that is where Teeter really wants to move this program.
"A MAAC Championship is not really our goal anymore as much as it is an expectation," Teeter said. "Our ultimate goal this season is to advance in the NCAA Tournament.
"Last year, it was important for our program to prove we weren't a fluke and that we were here to stay in the MAAC. We are now here to prove that we can reload year after year and continue to be a dominant force not just in the MAAC but also at the national level."
The pieces are there for Teeter's next step of his plan to come to fruition. Canisius returns 15 letterwinners and seven starters from last year's championship team. Add 10 talented newcomers to a lot of experience at every position and this could become the season where Canisius makes its name at the national level.
"We were playing our best lacrosse at the end of the season when it counted last year," Teeter said. "Now we need to do it more consistently and the sky's the limit for us. To advance the program nationally, we need to be more consistent from the opening whistle of the first game through to the last.
"We're a deep squad this season. Our strength is once again in the midfield and we should be able to push the tempo through our transition game. We have multiple threats on offense and a much more experienced defense than in past seasons."
Coming off the best offensive season in the program's history - where the Griffs averaged a school-record 13.21 goals per game - the attacking unit will have a new look with the graduation of 2012 MAAC Offensive Player of the Year Carly Quinn. The Griffs, however, won't have to look far to replace the program's all-time points leader as Canisius is moving her sister, Tori Quinn, into the position Carly held for the last three seasons.
"We have a little bit of a different look this year with the loss of Carly Quinn to graduation," Teeter said. "Carly's sister, Tori, will move a similar move into that position that Carly made after her freshman season with a trio competing for the other feeding position."
It also helps the Griffs ease the transition with Lindsey Morgan returning on attack. The senior placed fifth in the MAAC last season with 44 goals - the sixth-best mark in the program's history. Morgan is now expected to lead the attacking unit and not have it miss a beat from a record-setting campaign a year ago.
"Lindsey Morgan is going to be the key component for us this season," Teeter said. "She will be expected to put up big numbers again and lead our attacking unit. Lindsey is a great finisher and she will be surrounded by a lot of talent. As a whole, we are much more experienced up front this season then we were last year."
Meghan McGunigle, Sr • 14gp, 8 pts, 6g,
2a, 3gb, 3dc, 1ct
"We need to find a way get Meghan involved more on the offensive end," Teeter said. "She has a great shot and we need to see it more this season so we can utilize her biggest strength."
Lindsey Morgan, Sr • 19gp, 50 pts, 44g,
6a, 36gb, 21dc, 29ct
"Lindsey will most likely draw our opposition's top low defender," Teeter said. "She needs to win that matchup for us to be our most successful. Lindsey is our leader up front and her cutting and finishing are keys to our offense."
Whitley Perry, So • 18gp, 14 pts, 10g,
4a, 7gb, 4ct
"We are looking for Whitley to make the big step this season and be a consistent threat in our offense," Teeter said. "She has great size and can develop into a top attacker in our league."
Tori Quinn, So • 19gp, 25 pts, 20g, 5a,
17gb, 20dc, 16ct
"Moving to more of a feeding position this year from the midfield, Tori is doing a great job learning the ins and outs of our offense," Teeter said. "We are relying on her to distribute the ball to our finishers and run our offense."
Natalie Wagaman, So • 8gp, 2 pts, 1g, 1a
"Natalie's speed will help in our offensive transition game," Teeter said. "She will also help in our redefending and we will look for her to contribute more on the offensive end this season."
Caroline Ogden, Fr • Ridgefield, Conn.
"Caroline is adjusting to the Division I game nicely," Teeter said. "She has a great shot and should be able to contribute on the scoresheet this season."
Even with the graduation of one of the best players in the program's history, Megan Oosting, the midfield is once again a strength of the this year's squad. The Griffs return two All-MAAC selections from a year ago in Morgan Leonard - who was also named MAAC Preseason Player of the Year - and Maria Kotas.
The Griffs will look for those two to continue to control the game both on the offensive and defensive sides, while also filling the void left by Oosting.
"Morgan and Maria need to be our best two players on the field and they certainly have the talent to do so," Teeter said. "We graduated the most decorated player in our program's history in our midfield. It leaves a hole but Morgan and Maria have the ability to step right in so we don't miss a beat.
"Our midfield will have a different look but our new look will be tough for defenses to adjust. We are very athletic and we are able to pressure aggressively from riding and defending."
Morgan Leonard, Sr • 19gp, 39 pts, 29g,
10a, 45g, 37dc, 40ct
"Morgan Leonard is going to be counted on take the draw this season and build on her late-season MAAC Tournament MVP experience," Teeter said. "We opened her role toward the end of the year and she was able to contribute on the offensive side more. This season, we expect her to be one of our main threats and dominate both ends of the field."
Maria Kotas, Jr • 19gp, 31 pts, 23g, 8a,
40gb, 37dc, 23ct
"This is really Maria's year to shine," Teeter said. "She has all the pieces to be a dominant player in our conference. She is a heart and soul player that leads by example. Her effort is second to none and it is contagious throughout our whole team."
Meghan Cuddy, So • 19gp, 12 pts, 9g, 3a,
15gb, 5dc, 3ct
"We're hoping that Meghan takes a giant step forward this season to become a key contributor after a solid rookie season," Teeter said. "She needs to play with confidence and believe in her ability to succeed at this level."
Tori Greco, So • 13gp, 2 pts, 2g, 1gb,
"Tori is working hard every day on her skill sets and is coming off a great fall," Teeter said. "She will see increased playing time this year and will be able to contribute on both ends of the field."
Kali Baird, Fr • Williamsville, N.Y.
"Kali is a depth player that gives us a lot of options in the midfield," Teeter said. "If she is able to take advantage and make the most of opportunities, she will compete for playing time this season."
Cody Kucharski, Fr • Watertown, N.Y.
"Cody is a very talented player," Teeter said. "She is still adjusting to the speed of the college game and learning our systems. Once she progresses, she will be a dominant force on both ends of the field."
Brenna Murray, Fr • LaFayette, N.Y.
"Brenna adds depth and has impressed the coaching staff this past fall," Teeter said. "She is fine-tuning her game and increasing her lacrosse IQ. She just needs to gain some experience and she should be able to help our team this year."
A unit that has been a concern in each of the past two seasons due to inexperience is now one of the most experienced positions on the field for the Griffs. Prior to both the 2011 and 2012 championship runs, Canisius was forced to replace each of its four defensive starters from the prior season.
Now, the Griffs return nearly everybody from a defensive unit that posted the second-best goals against average in the program's history.
"I'm excited about our defense this season as we have a lot of experienced players returning from last year," Teeter said. "We are athletic on the back end, we understand our team concepts and compete at a high level.
"We're looking for Gabby Kotas and Casey Depauw to log a lot of time and really build on their strong seasons from last year."
Gabby Kotas, Jr • 19gp, 27gb, 6dc, 12ct
"We need Gabby to expand off her All-MAAC selection from last season," Teeter said. "She is one of our leaders on the back end and has the capabilities to be one of the best defenders in the league this season."
Stephanie Schmalz, Jr • 10gp, 4gb, 5dc
"Stephanie has been working hard every day in practice," Teeter said. "She will have a shot to make plays and contribute to our defense this season."
Taylor Smith, Jr • 8gp, 2gb, 1dc, 1ct
"Taylor is recovering from a knee injury and should be ready to go at the beginning of the season," Teeter said. "She needs to continue to work hard and get into game shape and that will lead to her being a part of our defense this season."
Casey Depauw, So • 19gp, 12gb, 7dc, 9ct
"Casey needs to use her size and draw from her basketball abilities to make plays," Teeter said. "She is coming off a solid rookie season and has put herself into the best shape of her career. That should help her take her game to the next level."
Ari Anderson, Jr • Quinnipiac University
"Ari is a transfer from Quinnipiac and is looking for a fresh start," Teeter said. "She is rebounding from an ankle injury suffered last year. She is improving every day in practice and I see her being able to help us succeed this season."
Ashley Bull, Fr • Langley, British
"Ashley is our most talented freshman," Teeter said. "She will be counted on to step in right away and win us the ball. Ashley has done a good job using her Under-19 Championship experiences to adjust to the Division I level very well."
Carley DePasquale, Fr • Loveland, Ohio
"Carley is a depth defender that is adjusting to the speed of the Division I game," Teeter said. "She is a hard worker that never takes a play off."
Sami Franco, Fr • Webster, N.Y.
"Sami adds depth and aggressiveness to our defense," Teeter said. "She is very good at pressuring the attacker and forcing them into mistakes."
Alexis Roskovich, Fr • Salisbury, Md.
"Alexis is a fearless, tough defender with great size," Teeter said. "Opposing teams will automatically feel her presence on the field."
One of the few question marks remaining for the 2013 team are at the goaltending position. Similar to the 2012 campaign, the Griffs have multiple goaltenders that can lead the team to success.
Last season, rookie Kayla Scully won the starting position during the year and then anchored a defensive unit that was peaking at the end of the season to a MAAC Championship. The Griffs are taking a similar approach this season and Scully will battle with senior Gina Molfetta and freshman Claudia Coleates for the number one goaltending position.
"This is the one position that is still up for grabs," Teeter said. "Throughout the fall, not one of the goalies could distance themselves and emerge as the starter. All three bring different qualities to the table and we will likely select which goalie to use based on their matchup and strengths."
Gina Molfetta, Sr • 11gp, 11.58 gaa,
.315 sv pct.
"Being our senior goalie, we are hoping for Gina to leave her mark on the program," Teeter said. "She has all the tools to be a top goalie in our conference and we just need bring it out of her and be more consistent."
Kayla Scully, So • 14gp, 10.29 gaa, .441
"Kayla was huge for us down the stretch last season after winning the job midway through the year," Teeter said. "She needs to learn what it takes to be a Division I athlete away from the field and when she does, she will be able to reach her highest potential."
Claudia Coleates, Fr • Stanley, N.Y.
"Claudia is a very talented goalie that just needs to gain some game experience," Teeter said. "She has all the tools to contribute right away."
Teeter is in his 11th season leading the Golden Griffin program and is joined on the sideline by Allison Daley, Kate Faas and Janelle Stegeland. Daley and Faas are both in their seconds season with the Canisius coaching staff, while Stegeland joins the Griffs after a successful four-year career at Syracuse, including an appearance in the national championship game last season.