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Women’s lacrosse preview: Manhattan, led by Long Island grads, opens today at Stony Brook

Wednesday, 15th February 2012

Categories College, Girl's/Women's, Posted 2/15/12
From Press Release

For the third time in as many seasons, the Manhattan Women’s Lacrosse team will be under the direction of a new head coach. Diane Haddeland begins her tenure with the Jaspers after spending the past three seasons as the top assistant at Division III Farleigh-Dickinson.

A strong recruiter, Haddeland helped build a team that captured the ECAC Mid-Atlantic Championship in 2010. Her staff includes assistant coach Courtney Burhans who comes to Riverdale after a season at Stony Brook where she worked exclusively with the defensive players and goalkeepers.

In 2012, the change surrounding the Jaspers program will be visible by a “return to basics” for Coach Haddeland. Veteran scorers and leaders will be relied upon to help the younger group compete on an every day basis while the team as a whole improves the fundamentals in pursuit of a MAAC Championship.

“We have such a raw group of kids that are all sponges and just absorbing a lot,” Haddeland says. “If we can get them all on the same page by the time our games get going then I will be very happy with this year.”


The loss of Julia DiBernardo between the pipes places a strong burden on the shoulders of freshman Christina Fiorinelli who is the only goalkeeper on the roster. A former All-County performer at Massapequa High School, Fiorinelli has the strong fundamentals to make an immediate impact on the field.

“It’s a tough spot for her to be in,” says Haddeland. “That’s a lot of pressure for a freshman but I think that her attitude will be what carries her this year.”


Senior captain Breana Leonard (Bay Shore) returns to lead a group of defensive veterans in 2012. Leonard enters the year after finishing second on the team last season in ground balls (24) and caused turnovers (12) in helping Manhattan finish second in the MAAC in ground balls as a team.

“Breana is such a vocal leader and I love that about her,” Haddeland notes. “I see her in practice taking that leadership role. Sometimes you have to teach that, she does it naturally.”

Joining her will be juniors Maria Aloe and Amy Branchini. Aloe played in 10 games in 2011, making 11 starts, while Branchini saw limited action in four contests as a sophomore.

The defensive unit will also see some youth tossed in to the mix as freshman Alex Rousseau (Wantagh) looks to compete for playing time. Rousseau has a knack for the defense earning honors in lacrosse along with playing goalie for Wantagh on the soccer field.

“They have really been learning a lot and I think we are pushing their minds a bit more than they have been before,” says Haddeland. “We have a couple of veteran players that are getting better each day in practice.”


The Jaspers will benefit from a talented core of veteran players in the midfield. MAAC All-Second team member Elizabeth Dugan returns after leading all position players with 38 ground balls and 13 caused turnovers in 2011. Dugan started all 14 games last year notching 11 goals in her junior season.

Dugan, one of four captains, will be leading a group brimming with youth. Sophomores Lauren Pribetich (Sachem East), Carly Eskenazi, Kelsey Rehain, and Clare Kerrisk look to improve after each saw playing time as rookies. Rehain led the team last season in assists (7) while scoring more goals than any other freshman (11).

New to the team this season will be Brianna Rickert who transferred in from Wagner after receiving a medical redshirt in 2011. A former member of the New York State U-15 National Team in 2005 & 2006, the sophomore will look to provide an immediate impact.

Freshmen duo Caitlyn Hynes and Domenica O’Brey will also fight for opportunities in their rookie campaigns in the green and white.

“We have some kids who can run,” says the first year head coach. “There is a great base of freshman that we are really going to look to this season along with our veterans.”


Another strong veteran group returns up top for the Jaspers as senior captains BrieAnna Spatarella (Rocky Point) and Chrissy Gutenberger return for their final season in Riverdale.

Gutenberger, the active points and goals leader, led Manhattan with 33 goals and 29 points despite playing in only 11 games. A natural scorer, Gutenberger enters the year with 128 career goals sitting 67 behind the program record of 195 set by Lori Graham (1997-01).

Sophomore Maria Toscano comes off a rookie season in which she started nine games notching eight goals and ten points. She will be joined by a group of four fresh faces to the program in freshmen Carly Cappello, Donna Jo DiNorcia, Kaleigh Howe and Samantha Nardo.

Cappello will be no stranger to Gaelic Park as her high school coach, and aunt, is former Manhattan coach Missi Holland. DiNorcia was named part of the 2010 NJGIL All-First Team and will be coming off ACL reconstruction surgery in April of 2011. Howe and Nardo were both All-League honorees in their senior seasons.


The 2012 season will begin today when the Jaspers travel out to Long Island to take on Stony Brook marking the second straight year Manhattan has begun their campaign against the SeaWolves. Ten days later, the team will open its home slate when they host Bucknell at Gaelic Park on Feb. 25. They will then go on the road for two straight contests visiting Wagner College on Feb. 29 as well as Long Island University on March 3 before returning home on the 4th to play Ivy League foe Brown.

The month of March will also feature the longest road trip for the Jaspers in the 2012 season when they travel to Central Connecticut State University (3/7), Saint Joseph’s University (3/14), Villanova (3/24) and then begin their Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference season at defending conference champion Canisius on March 31.

“A lot of the teams that we are playing are very good teams and it’s important to play games like that to see where you are as a team,” Haddeland says.

The MAAC slate continues with a home game against Marist on April 4, before two more road matches with Siena (4/7) and Fairfield (4/11), both of whom made the conference tournament last season. The Jaspers will end their season with two consecutive home games against Niagara (4/14) and another 2011 MAAC tournament participant in Iona on April 18 at Gaelic Park.

“I’m really excited about the season and the improvements within the program,” noted Haddeland. “Seeing each individual kid get better in their skills, that will be a successful first season for me.”

The MAAC Tournament will take place April 27-29 at the Demske Sports Complex on the campus of Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., with the top four teams making the playoffs.


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