For being only a second-year varsity intercollegiate program, the 2017 Felician University women's lacrosse team has experienced a great deal of transition. The Golden Falcons have already worked through a coaching change, and seen half of their roster turn over from a year ago.
Nevertheless, first-year head coach Natalie Bermudez is happy to have stayed with Felician after being the assistant coach for the 2016 squad. She is looking forward to the upcoming season and the program's short-term future.
"I have always wanted to coach at the collegiate level," Bermudez said. "Being a part of the team last year made me realize I wanted to stay at Felician and help our players develop and grow athletically and professionally. The idea of building a program and creating a culture is exciting."
The growing team culture has not gone unnoticed. It has become one of the team's major positive attributes coming out of fall workouts and throughout the spring preseason.
"Our team and coach camaraderie has been our greatest strength so far," Bermudez said. "We have done a great job of staying focused on our daily goals. The most frequent comments I receive from people in the campus community who interact with our players is how welcoming they are, and how well they listen and help others. If we all care about one another, we will do our best to help each other on and off the field."
The Golden Falcons took some lumps in 2016, posting a won-lost record of 0-11. With a roster that still contains players with varying degrees of lacrosse experience, Bermudez has been careful to keep her team's goals reasonable and attainable.
"We are giving our best efforts as players and coaches daily," she said. "Right now that is all we want to strive for. This year, we are all better versions of ourselves. The players do the basics without hesitation, they understand movement, and are hungry to get the program's first win. I would like to see us improve our shots attempted and caused turnovers, as these are statistics that can build our confidence. What I can guarantee is that we will approach each game with 60 minutes of intensity and focus."
GOALKEEPER: True freshman Megan Euler (Manchester, N.J./Manchester Township) will handle the bulk of the goalkeeping duties.
DEFENSE: Co-captain Berlina Cebien (Union, N.J./Union) is the top defensive returnee. Junior and first-year player Antoinette Baisden (Elizabeth, N.J./Elizabeth) could play a prominent role, and freshman Gabby Reda (Old Bridge, N.J./Old Bridge) has shown promise.
MIDFIELD: Sophomore Liana Chirichiello (Waldwick, N.J./Waldwick) topped the Golden Falcons in scoring, and was the national Division-II leader in ground balls per game, in 2016. Senior co-captain Tainely Perez (Totowa, N.J./Passaic Valley), classmate Kate Rohsler (Fredon, N.J./Kittatinny Regional) and sophomore Cassidy Charles (Irvington, N.J./Newark Tech) also return, and will be supported by newcomer Andrea Hill (Monroe, N.Y./Monroe-Woodbury).
ATTACK: The front line will be paced by a trio of rookies – true freshmen Winnie Huang (Parlin, N.J./Old Bridge) and Ennasya Rivera (Paterson, N.J./PCTI) and redshirt freshman Melissa Ballek (North Brunswick, N.J./Bishop George Ahr).