SAINT LEO, Fla. – The time for building foundations is over. The time for achieving is here.
And finding the players who could immediately contribute to Saint Leo women's lacrosse and its pursuit of the inaugural Sunshine State Conference women's lacrosse title was the priority for Lions head coach Lesley Graham.
The fourth-year Saint Leo women's lacrosse program welcomed six newcomers to the roster this fall – three midfielders, two defenders, and an attacker – who will compete for Lions when the spring 2015 season starts up on Friday, Feb. 13, versus Molloy College.
"Our talented group of incomers are a diverse group – geographically, positionally, and personality-wise," said Graham. "They are a great group of athletes, and more importantly a great group of people. We can't wait for their official debut as Lions."
Alex Alvarez and Kaylynn Purdy will become the newest members of the Lions' defensive unit. Alvarez also brings some offensive abilities to the table, after charting 68 goals and 55 assists during her final season at University High School in Orlando, Fla. The recipient of her team's Coaches Award for leadership on and off the field as a junior, Alvarez is pursuing a degree in social work at Saint Leo.
"Alex is the type of kid that any coach would love to have on their team, so needless to say, we are excited she has chosen to join us," said Graham. "Alex is a consummate hard worker, always wanting to learn and better herself, and constantly pushes herself and her teammates to be better"
Purdy, who hails from Lake Worth, Fla., lettered all four years in lacrosse as a midfielder, but will move to the back line for the Lions. A three-time All-Conference selection, Purdy garnered All-Region honors as a junior and senior. She will be studying early childhood education at Saint Leo.
"Kaylynn is a great kid from a great family, and she is the epitome of a gamer. Although she may be smaller in stature, she plays big—lots of heart and lots of energy, and just what we look for on defense," said Graham.
The Lions will add just one player on the attack – 5-8 freshman Kathryn Casey. A three-year letterwinner in lacrosse at Holy Cross High School, Casey was sidelined for her junior season due to an ACL injury but rebounded to score 22 goals in 15 games. That dedication earned her team's Lancer Award for perseverance and leadership.
The Cinnaminson, N.J., native will study business at Saint Leo, with plans of becoming an actuary after graduation.
"Katie Casey joins our group of Jersey natives with a solid base of lacrosse knowledge, roots in hard work, and a positive attitude," said Graham. "She is working hard to get back to 100 percent after an injury sidelined her in her junior year of high school, and with her work ethic we know she will get there and be a force for us."
Larson was a US Lacrosse High School All-American at Apple Valley High School, and a finalist for Ms. Minnesota Lacrosse. The St. Paul Pioneer Press 2014 Lacrosse Player of the Year, Larson finished her senior season as the state's top scorer with 93 goals and 14 assists, to go with 59 ground balls.
That effort was the follow-up to an equally impressive junior season, where she charted 70 goals, 12 assists, and 64 ground balls as an All-State selection and Honorable Mention All-American.
"Katie comes from a non-traditional lacrosse area, but you would never know that with her depth of talent and hard work," said Graham. "She is a spitfire on the field with quick speed and a great finish to her shot — we are looking forward to her immediate impact on our offensive scoring."
Ross comes from much closer to Saint Leo; the Apopka, Fla., native was an All-Conference selection at Lake Brantley and capped her senior campaign with 58 goals and 22 assists. A competitive weightlifter early in her high school career, Ross was selected to play for the Brine National Team.
"Abigail has a stellar lacrosse IQ and a beautiful finish on her shot. We are excited about Abbie immediately making a name for herself in the conference this year due to her phenomenal efforts on the field," said Graham.
Coppolo was an accomplished lacrosse and field hockey player at Guilderland High School, where she earned All-District honors as a senior. A two-time team captain on the field hockey squad, she also received Guilderland's scholar-athlete award as a senior. More of a defensive midfielder, Coppolo joins the Lions from Hartwick College, where she was a member of the Hawks' field hockey squad for one season.
"Amanda comes to us from Hartwick where she was a standout field hockey player, and we are excited about her athleticism and work ethic to be an immediate impact on the growth of our team," said Graham. "Her defensive capabilities have shown through since day one."
For more information on the Saint Leo women's lacrosse program, visit SaintLeoLions.com. Also, be sure to 'Like' the Lions on Facebook and 'Follow' Saint Leo Athletics on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
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