by Brett Amadon and Mark Macyk, Lacrosse Magazine (LaxMagazine.com)
Fall ball is all about the new kids on the block. Each September, Lacrosse Magazine picks 30 newcomers — 15 men and 15 women — poised to make an immediate impact for college teams that could utilize them in a big way right away.
Players are listed in alphabetical order:
Samantha Brescia - UMass
Brescia, who started on defense since her freshman year at Long Island power Farmingdale, could make a similar immediate impact in Year 1 in Amherst. UMass will be seeking its seventh consecutive A-10 title and its defense, which ranked No. 2 in the country last season, should only be better with Brescia on board.
Mary Claire Byrne - Virginia Tech
The Hokies will be looking for an immediate spark after going winless in the stacked ACC for the second consecutive season. Byrne, an intelligent player with a quick shot who piled up 103 goals, 68 assists and 107 ground balls for Holy Family (Va.) last year, could certainly provide it.
Madison Crutchfield - Duke
The dynamic midfielder led St. Paul’s (N.H.) in scoring and assists for four straight years and will look to carve out a role on a stacked Duke team that still features Kerrin Maurer and Taylor Trimble. If Crutchfield breaks out, the Blue Devils will be tough to beat, even in the ACC.
Marissa Hudgins - Brown
The Bears were better than their 9-6 record indicated, and three losses came by one goal. The hard-working midfielder out of West Genesee (N.Y.) 25 goals, 13 assists, 5 charges taken, is the kind of player who can swing those results, and Brown graduated its two leading scorers.
Lauren Hudson - Cincinnati
Last season, the Bearcats struggled mightily, as they went winless in their conference and suffered blowout losses to the likes of Notre Dame and Louisville. The addition of Hudson, an All-American out of Maryvale Prep (Md.), is a good step to solidifying a defense that is necessary to win big games and draw the attention of more recruits.
Amanda Ignacio - Georgetown
The versatile attacker led the IAAM in points a year ago, when she averaged nearly seven a game for Mount de Sales (Md.). That will come in handy at Georgetown, which averaged almost 12 points per game last season, but graduated three of its five leading scorers.
Gussie Johns - USC
Johns started out playing lacrosse with the boys when she was four years old, so the aggressive goalie will have something to talk about right away with Trojans assistant Devon Wills. Johns was known for kick-starting the transition game while at St. Stephen and St. Agnes (Va.), and is the kind of goalie that can redefine a young program.
Kenzie Kent - Boston College
The creative midfielder out of Noble and Greenough (Mass.) will get a chance to impact her new school even before the lacrosse season starts, when she suits up for the Eagles’ ice hockey team. When the spring comes she’ll swap sticks and find a team in need of offensive weapons after the graduation of Mikaela Rix and Covie Stanwick.
Hilary Lemonick - Cornell
Lemonick arrives in Ithaca more mature than your average freshman. The No. 1 ranked incoming defender credits being diagnosed with diabetes at age seven with helping her grow up in a hurry. The Big Red, who graduated two starting defenders, will need that kind of leadership.
Marie McCool - North Carolina
Championships are now expected at Chapel Hill, which is something McCool is cool with. The graceful midfielder won three straight New Jersey Tournament of Champion titles at Moorestown, which has won its last 77 games. Plenty of players have graduated since UNC’s 2013 NCAA title, McCool can help continue the winning tradition immediately.
Kelly Myers - Stanford
After leading Georgetown Visitation (D.C.) with 92 goals last season, Myers switches coasts and heads to Palo Alto, where she will fight for playing time on a talented Cardinal squad that ranked 11th in Division I in scoring a year ago.
Shayna Pirrecca - Florida
Fresh off a Long Island championship at Mt. Sinai (N.Y.), Pirrecca went on to take home MVP honors in the Under Armour All-American game. She’ll need to carve out a role on a loaded Florida team that still features Shannon Gilroy, but her talent will be tough to ignore.
Katy Pridemore - Liberty
This one may seem obvious, but Pridemore is one of the best women’s recruits out there. The Nike/US Lacrosse South Region Player of the Year out of Vero Beach (Fla.) originally committed to perennial NCAA tournament contender Florida but opted instead for Liberty, which is 21-64 since debuting in 2010. No doubt Pridemore can step in and contribute from day one.
Natalie Stefan - Penn
After helping propel Manhasset (N.Y.) to a No. 3 national ranking, Stefan will look to help the Quakers improve upon last season’s No. 20 national ranking. She’ll find her services very much in demand at Penn, which graduated leading scorer Tory Bensen, and will once again be in the battle atop the Ivy League.
Lydia Sutton - USC
The defensive-minded midfielder was considered by many to be the best prep lacrosse player in Minnesota history while at Blake. Sutton will now take her game to another up-and-coming hotbed, Southern California, where the Trojans would like to be contenders sooner rather than later.
Corinne Wessels - Northwestern
Alyssa Leonard is gone and so the Wildcats will have to replace one of the nation’s best collegiate playmakers. Luckily they have one of the nation’s best high school playmakers coming in. Wessels shattered the national assists record during her career at Osbourne Park (Va.). She’ll find plenty of scorers looking to finish her passes in Evanston.
Megan Whittle - Maryland
Whittle, the Nike/US Lacrosse National Player of the Year, is used to prematurely making an impact. She was the youngest player at the U.S. national team tryouts this year. The high-pressure situations will only continue when she arrives in College Park, where Cathy Reese loves to play freshmen and Whittle will reunite with former McDonogh (Md.) teammate Taylor Cummings.