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Clemson lacrosse set to kick off 2nd season against Davidson

Ashleigh Snyder
The team runs off the field with sticks held high after the final whistle blew against No. 11 Duke last March, giving the Tigers their first ranked win by a score of 11-10.

Clemson lacrosse is set to kick off its second season this Saturday against Davidson following the record-breaking success of last year’s inaugural team.

The match, set to take place at the team’s recently constructed and yet-to-be-named home field, will set the tone for the Tigers. Last year’s home opener saw a 22-point margin of victory when head coach Allison Kwolek led her squad to a 23-1 win over Wofford, and the Tigers went on to achieve the fifth-highest scoring margin in the nation by the end of the season.

The team is returning many veteran powerhouses on both sides of the ball. Last year’s leading scorer, Hanna Hilcoff, who sent 51 shots to the back of opposing nets, will take to the field for her final collegiate season. Midfielder Emma Tilson, who had 25 goals and seven assists to her name last year, will also be bringing back her veteran experience.

Each possession of lacrosse depends on the initial faceoff to provide momentum. Luckily for the Tigers, their roster includes senior midfielder Ella Little. Little, who won the National Championship with North Carolina in 2022 before transferring to Clemson, dominated in the circle as she recorded 108 draw controls in 2023.

The other half of Clemson’s success lay in its brick wall defense, which protects the top third of the field. Guarding the 12 and the 8-meter arcs will once again be Paris Masaracchia, Bella Karstien and Nakeeya McCardell, who combined for 69 ground balls.

No defense would be complete with an empty net, and goalkeepers Emily Lamparter and Krissy Kowalski will help ensure that the Tigers are well-protected after they combined for 143 saves last season.

Kwolek brought in eight transfers over the offseason to further reinforce her roster, many of whom arrived from blue chip programs such as No. 2 Boston College, No. 3 Syracuse, No. 6 James Madison and No. 9 Maryland.

The transfer class is highlighted by midfielders Demma Hall and Summer Agostino from Maryland and Boston College, respectively, who were the No. 3 and No. 4 ranked recruits in their class of 2021, according to Insider Lacross. Conversely, the Tigers lost just one player to the portal following their inaugural season.

Kwolek further bolstered her roster from last year with her No. 4-ranked freshman class. Composed of another eight fresh faces — including three five-stars — this class will look to make their mark on the field with a list of elite awards and accolades.

The coaching staff grew in the offseason as well. Marina Miller, a team captain of the inaugural squad who scored four hat tricks and 34 total points last year, was named assistant coach to work with the midfield and offensive units.

In terms of schedule strength, Clemson is in for a challenge as it competes in one of, if not the most, competitive conferences for women’s lacrosse. A team from the ACC has competed in the last 11 national championships, winning four of them between North Carolina and Boston College, with Syracuse also being a consistent runner-up.

The Tigers will start conference play at the end of February when they take on Duke in Durham, North Carolina. Last season, Clemson upset the No. 11 Blue Devils at home, marking its first-ranked win. The road game in late February will be followed by Virginia and North Carolina at home before the team travels to Louisville to take on the Cardinals.

Clemson will play Notre Dame and Virginia Tech at home in March, and regular season play concludes in March after a tough stretch against Boston College, Syracuse and Pittsburgh. There are also several non-conference games throughout the season, with top competitors being Mercer, Furman and Queens.

Clemson will go against Davidson at 2 p.m. this Saturday on its new field by the rowing docks off of East Beach Drive.

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About the Contributors
Grace O'Donnell
Grace O'Donnell, Sports Editor
Ashleigh Snyder
Ashleigh Snyder, Photo Editor
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